Visiting New Zealand between January and April, when temperatures are in the mid-to-high twenties, and the weather is at its most settled, offers the best chance for you to enjoy all the water-based sight-seeing and activities you have in mind, though keen photographers may find the air a little too hazy for that perfect landscape shot. Many outdoor festivals, including most of the music and food and wine festivals, take place during February and March.
Though a little cooler, and with a greater chance of rainy days thrown in, October till Christmas, and again in April-May, are among our favourite times to travel, particularly in the North Island. With few crowds (except at the weekends) and a good chance of blue skies and daytime temperatures of 16 to 22 degrees, many outdoor activities, particularly those involving walking, can be very pleasant compared to the hotter months. Labour Weekend, New Zealand’s springtime three-day weekend, is the traditional time for kiwis to get out and about to celebrate the end of winter, and you’ll find a number of cultural festivals around the country at this time, as well as over the Easter break in autumn.
Ski-fields bring visitors flocking from July to September, both to the South Island and to the central North Island. The clarity of the air on fine days during winter, and the crispness it brings to images, makes it a fabulous time for photographing all those beautiful landscapes that New Zealand is famous for, though it pays to pack your thermals and a waterproof jacket to combat those lower temperatures and the inevitable rainy days. If you have time, the South Island’s west coast can surprise when picture perfect blue skies offer unrivalled views up and down the coast.
Make sure you book your accommodation and activities well in advance over the Christmas and January period, when most kiwis plan their summer holidays, plus over the spring and autumn long weekends, Labour Weekend (late October) and Easter. Outside these times, you only need to book a few days in advance, so you can just follow the sunshine to get the most out of your time in New Zealand.
Accommodation tariffs are at a peak from Christmas till March.