New Zealand is beautiful in all seasons, but the summer months provide great opportunities for people living in cold-weather climates to escape the snow and rain of winter in their area. If you’re planning a summer holiday, take a look at these tips for travelling to New Zealand and advice to make your visit a success.

Aerial view of the skyline and landscape of Queenstown


When is summer in New Zealand?

The summer travel season in New Zealand falls in December, January and February. This is the warmest time in New Zealand, making it a popular time for people to travel to different destinations across the country. These months also coincide with cold weather in northern climates, as well as school holidays, so it’s a good time for many to enjoy a warm-weather escape. Businesses in New Zealand shut down for a short period in December as well, so many locals take their vacation during this time.

Summer weather in New Zealand

During the summer in New Zealand, the sun is more in the south than the north, so the temperatures are much higher. The temperatures are almost the same between the North Island and South Island, but the summer nights are colder on the South Island. Some areas are really humid as well, which makes it feel warmer. On average, the temperatures on the North Island are a low of 8°C at night and a high of 32°C in the day, while the South Island has average temperatures at a low of 2°C at night and a high of 33°C during the day.

Best summer destinations in New Zealand

Most of New Zealand is great during the summer months, though the ski areas are closed. Most travellers visiting New Zealand in summer are looking for beach trips, lake trips and other outdoor adventures, which is best in places like Northland, Auckland and Wellington on the North Island and Tasman and the West Coast on the South Island. There are plenty of great national parks as well, such as Tongariro National Park, Abel Tasman National Park and Mount Cook National Park.

Mountain scenery at Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park

What to pack

New Zealand has a varied climate, ranging from semi-arid mountainous areas to forested, subtropical coasts. Even in summer, it’s common to experience drastic temperature changes throughout the day, especially if you’re travelling to different destinations or elevations. Ideally, you should pack a range of clothing for both warm and cold days, such as layers and waterproof outerwear like jackets and gloves. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outdoors, be sure to pack sunscreen and durable non-slip shoes for trips on rough terrain. Finally, check the weather to know before you go and anticipate what to pack.

Leave food at home

The Department of Conservation has strict biosecurity procedures to protect the ecosystem in New Zealand, so all international travellers have to declare food in their luggage. In most cases, the food you bring will need to be thrown out, particularly fruits and nuts. Outdoor gear needs to be cleaned thoroughly and declared as well to avoid introducing any non-native organisms. You can know before you go by checking the list of prohibited and restricted items on New Zealand’s Customs website.

The wildlife is relatively safe

You’re likely to encounter plenty of unique animal species on a trip to New Zealand in summer, but unlike many of the animals in neighbouring Australia, there are no large predators, venomous snakes or venomous insects on the entire island. You can safely hike in the woods without worrying about bears, mountain lions, wolves or other potentially dangerous large animals. There are many herding species, however, such as sheep, bull tahr and a variety of beautiful and unique deer and elk.

Grazing sheep and mountains in Glenorchy


Find local information at i-Sites

Each major town and city in New Zealand has a dedicated i-Site, which is a visitor centre with maps, local contact information, attraction brochures and other essential information about the area for travellers. Many buses stop near the i-Sites, making it easy to book your travel to the next destination and find the details about your location that you need. They’re easy to find if you hire a car as well, so you can get the information you need on your own.

Safety and travel tips

New Zealand is one of the safest travel destinations in the world, but it’s still smart to exercise caution on your trip. As with any other destination, you should guard your valuables, avoid walking alone in the evening and find out from locals whether there are any places you’ll wish you knew were unsafe for tourists. You can book tours to sightsee if you’re travelling alone. If there’s an emergency, dial 111 for emergency services, which directs you to an operator to request the police department, fire department, medical services or other emergency responders.

Ready for your summer holiday?

Now that you have all the essential information before visiting New Zealand in summer, you’re ready to plan your trip. Expedia has great deals on New Zealand holidays so you can save on the trip of a lifetime. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out travel guides for the Bay of Plenty and ‘Lord of the Rings’ locations in New Zealand.