What is New Zealand weather like?

A temperate climate, perfect to explore our great outdoors!

Many people without any experience of these places believe that countries within the Australasia or Oceania regions are blessed with year-round sun, mild winters and only enough rainfall to water the plants every now and then. Now, while that may be true in certain parts of central Australia, for New Zealand this is categorically not the case. New Zealand is approximately 1,400 miles from Australia, to the south east, meaning that the weather there is a little less forgiving than that experienced in Australia.

An oceanic climate

In more specific terms, New Zealand experiences an oceanic climate (also known as a maritime climate), which is very similar to the United Kingdom, south-western South America and most parts of Europe. Countries with this kind of climate generally experience warm summers and cool winters (neither overly hot nor cold throughout the year), with a narrow annual range of temperatures during a single year. New Zealand's weather patterns are largely determined by the fact that we are an island, and things can change rapidly. Being an island nation located deep in the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is very open to the elements and is blessed or punished, depending on your outlook, with year-round rainfall but not usually in extreme amounts. Average rainfall recorded in cities in New Zealand ranges from around 650mm in Christchurch on the South Island, to 1500mm in Whangarei on New Zealand's North Island. Areas around the Southern Alps on the South Island enjoy as much as 6700mm of rainfall per year; an average based on data taken from 2007 – 2012.

Sunshine hours

In terms of sun, you can expect around 2,000 hours of sunlight per year in most places, with temperatures in the summer reaching 25-30 (possibly even 35) degrees Celsius. Temperatures in winter on the north island hover around 10-15 degrees Celsius, while on the south island, expect not only much cooler temperatures, but also regular snowfalls (something that is quite rare on the north island).

We frequently joke that New Zealand gets all four seasons... in one day. We do get our share of wild weather every now and again, but we do not have months of scorching heat or freezing weather. Our climate is mild and temperate with warm summers and wet winters. Most of the snow falls in the South Island which boats fantastic ski fields.

Being in the Southern hemisphere, our winter is June to August and summer runs from December to January, though for most of the country we enjoy warmth and sunshine from November to April.

Regional variations

Specific regions of New Zealand can experience very different types of climate; Central Otago, for example, is said to be semi-arid, while around Northland the climate is more subtropical, and the deep south occasionally gets chilly winds from Antartica. The north of the South Island (Nelson-Tasman and Marlborough) enjoys for the most part a rather Mediterranean climate with Bay of Plenty (North Island) another popular beach-side location.