Bailey Busslinger

Depending on who you talk to, you will get a different answer about what season is best for visiting New Zealand. The winter and summer seasons are the most popular times to visit simply because of the vast amount of things to do and see. 

In the winter, you have the incredible snow-covered peaks, the opportunity to so skiing or snowboarding, sit in hot springs in the snow or go for alpine hikes. But in the summer, you can enjoy the beaches and go camping! Each season has its own pros and cons, and in this blog, I will tell you what they are to help you decide when to plan your own New Zealand holiday!

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What to do during summer in New Zealand

The summer in New Zealand runs from December to March. These are the hottest months reaching up to 35 degrees Celsius in the North Island! However, in the south, it is common for most summer days to be around 25 degrees Celsius. The warmer weather and longer days during the summer make spending most of your time exploring the great outdoors easy! From camping to surfing the summer in New Zealand really does have something for everyone!

Road tripping in a van

The most popular way to travel around New Zealand is on a road trip. While road trips are possible in the winter, the colder temperatures especially in the South, make camping less desirable. The unpredictable winter weather can also cause certain roads to close! But in the summer, the sunshine and longer days allow you to drive and camp almost anywhere you want!

van travel in new zealand

One of the most popular ways to travel around New Zealand is in a self-contained van (#VanLife) which means you can camp almost anywhere while living in a van complete with a bathroom and kitchen! In the summer, a road trip all around New Zealand in a van would be a comfortable way to see all of the country while being budget-friendly at the same time!

When to go hiking in New Zealand

New Zealand is famous for beautiful walking trails. In the winter, the alpine environments and risks of avalanches seriously reduce the accessibility of the walks. But in the summer, there are literally thousands of different trails to tackle. If you want to tackle one of the famous "9 Great Walks" in New Zealand you will need to book in advance though and they are actually commonly only open in the summer as well!

Multi-day hiking adventures in New Zealand are also very popular as you can carry a tent with you and camp, or choose the more luxurious option of staying in one of the many huts. These huts are complete with kitchens, bathrooms, and bunk-beds allowing your stay to be a little more comfortable. 

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hiking in summer in new zealand

Visit the beach

New Zealand's coastline is incredible! While it is beautiful in both in the summer and the winter, swimming will be much more enjoyable with the warmer weather! You can sunbath on white sandy beaches, go surfing, snorkelling, or even scuba diving! Some other water activities that are best enjoyed in the summer are fishing, jet boating, parasailing, and more!

Beaches in New Zealand

What to do in winter while visiting New Zealand

For those who are looking for snow in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand is the place to be! While those in the north are enjoying summer, New Zealand is bundling up for a cold winter – one of its most busy tourist seasons!

Skiing or snowboarding in New Zealand

The most obvious reason to visit New Zealand in winter is to get out in the snow and hit the slopes. With dozens of ski resorts spread throughout the country, there is guaranteed to be one not too far from you. For those who have never skied or snowboarded before there are tons of classes and easier slopes for beginners making New Zealand the perfect place to learn.

Skiing in New Zealand

But what I love most about winter sports in New Zealand more so than other places in the world is the mild temperature! Yes, some days it can get cold, but for most of the winter, the weather is really reasonable allowing you to spend the entire day outside without completely freezing!

Make sure your travel insurance covers you for winter sports. Have a look at Cover-More's winter sports protection here.

Can I go alpine hiking in New Zealand?

For me, the absolute best thing about winter in New Zealand is the alpine hiking through the snow! Hiking is already challenging enough in the summer, but add some snow and ice and it is a whole new level – and an incredible adventure!

If you don’t have alpine experience, you should do your first hike on a guided tour and learn the ropes (quite literally!). Have a guide show you how to use crampons, ice axes, and ropes to safely navigate the mountainside without worry.

Not only does alpine winter hiking add a little bit of extra adventure to your trip in New Zealand, it also offers some of the best views ever. In the summer, the snow melts on most of the mountains in New Zealand. In my opinion, without the snowy mountain peaks, the mountain views are just not the same! The best views of the mountains are when they are covered in beautiful white snow. If you love sightseeing and photography as much as I do, then winter could be the best option for you!

Drink some mulled wine and warm ginger beer

Of course, mulled wine and warm ginger beer are a great reason to visit New Zealand in winter. But it isn’t just the drinks that are so special, it is the winter ambience. Getting bundled up in a scarf, sitting with a warm drink by a fire and enjoying a view of snow covered mountains is a truly authentic “winter” experience. For those who aren’t used to the traditional winter activities (Aussies, I’m talking to you), then the winter vibe is something not to miss.

What to do during any season in New Zealand

The truth is that there are a ton of things to do in New Zealand that can be done in both seasons. Adventure activities such as skydiving and bungy jumping can be done all year around. Many sights and tourist attractions such as Hobbiton, Franz Josef Glacier, glow worm caves, and Milford Sound are also all-season activities. So, no matter when you choose to visit NZ, you will have a ton of things to keep you busy and really enjoy your trip! Don't forget to pack your travel insurance. Consider Cover-More's travel insurance for New Zealand and get a free quote today.


Bailey Busslinger is on a never-ending (hopefully) adventure around the world. In the summer of 2019, she will travel around in her self-contained campervan. Follow Bailey on her adventures on Instagram @destinationlesstravel.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.