New Zealand climate
The North Island enjoys mild winters and warm and humid summers, while the South Island is colder, with extensive snowfields and glaciers. Average winter temperatures are 10-15°C and all the mountains receive snowfall. The west coast gets the most rain. Average summer temperatures are between 20-30°C.
When to fly to New Zealand
Summer is the peak tourist season, especially around the school holidays from Christmas to end of January. Easter, Labour Day weekend in October and school holidays during the year are also busy. Flights to New Zealand will be most expensive during these times. The winter ski and snowboard season runs from June to October.
November and April are much quieter and it is easier to find accommodation and cheap flights to Auckland.
March to May can still have decent weather and the autumn foliage in Central Otago and Hawke's Bay is particularly picturesque.
Getting around New Zealand
Air New Zealand and JetStar are the main domestic carriers and there are several small airlines. Sounds Air flies regularly from Wellington to Picton, Nelson and Blenheim; Stewart Island Flights travels from Invercargill to Stewart Island and Fly My Sky and Great Barrier Airlines fly between Auckland and Great Barrier Island. If you want to get further afield Air Chathams offers a service between Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and the Chatham Islands.
A good public transport system (bus and coach) connects major cities to popular tourist destinations. Most travellers rent a car and many choose to get around in campervans and motor homes.
Tranz Scenic runs rail routes on the South Island, with the TranzAlpine linking Christchurch and Greymouth and the TranzCoastal operating between Picton and Christchurch.
There are plenty of cheap flights to New Zealand from Australia.
New Zealand insider information
- The protected nature reserve on Kapiti Island, north of Wellington, is home to some of the world's most rare birds, including the extremely rare flightless Takahe. It is also home to the nocturnal Kiwi, New Zealand's emblem.
- In central North Island, Rotorua - the heartland of Maori culture - is a geothermal area with hot mud pools and several gushing hot springs or geysers, including the spectacular 20m Pohutu geyser at the thermal village of Whakarewarewa. Most of the 16 lakes around Rotorua are fishable, including Rotorua, Rotoiti, Tarawera, Okataina and Rotoma, and stock various species of trout.
- Follow the Lord of the Rings trail: Named after one of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mount Aspiring National Park, south of the Southern Alps, is part of Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Area. The park is a popular spot for walking and mountaineering. Many scenes from the movie were shot in locations around Glenorchy village (Lothlorien, Amon Hen, Orthanc and Isengard).
- Queenstown is where commercial bungee jumping started. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the Remarkable mountain range, Queenstown has become the New Zealand's newest ski region. In late June and July, the place livens up with the Queenstown Winter Festival.
- Larnach Castle in Dunedin (South Island) is New Zealand’s only castle and the area's most popular attraction, breathtaking views over the Otago Peninsula. Erected in 1871 by William Larnach for his first wife, the castle is today privately-owned .
- Dunedin is also home to Cadbury World, a veritable chocolate theme park attached to the chocolate factory. Chocaholics will be drooling over the unique chocolate fall in a five-story high silo.
- While city-hopping around New Zealand, head to the hills for stunning views: from Mount Eden and One Tree Hill in Auckland, from Mount Victoria in Wellington, from the Port Hills in Christchurch and atop Flagstaff Hill in Dunedin.
- While Auckland is New Zealand's biggest city, the capital Wellington is the country's political centre and arts and cultural capital, hosting an array of festivals. It is also home to the country's thriving movie industry.