Images showing the four seasons in New Zealand
Images showing the four seasons in New Zealand

As we head into the winter once more, a small debate broke out amongst the team about the seasons in New Zealand and the best time to visit NZ. There were some strong opinions though about the best time to visit New Zealand. The skiers and snowboarders amongst the team were fighting hard for winter but the sun worshippers put up a pretty good argument for the summer months. With no conclusion in sight, we thought we’d put forth our arguments for each of the seasons and put it to a vote – seems to be the way to get things done these days!

The seasons in New Zealand

The first thing to agree on before we move forward is clarifying the exact months that make up each season as this often causes a bit of a stir as well. As the author of this post, my two cents would be that spring only truly starts when the clocks ‘spring’ forward at the end of September, however, I was overruled! Here are the ‘official’ seasons from the Met Office:

  • Spring – September to November
  • Summer – December to February
  • Autumn – March to May
  • Winter – June to August

When is the best time of the year to visit New Zealand?

Ok. So now we’ve got those seasons cleared up, let’s hear the arguments for and against each of the seasons and let the public decide exactly when is the best time to visit New Zealand.


The lupins in full glory around Lake Tekapo
The lupins in full glory around Lake Tekapo

There were definitely quite a few of the team in the ‘spring’ camp and for good reason. Spring is a sign of hope. A promise of the good weather to come and the start of the warmer days. Spring in New Zealand depends of course on where you are and is very different in the North Island compared to the South. The North starts to see temperatures creeping back up near the 20s and as the spring flowers start to come into full bloom, the North Island is awash with stunning colours. In the South, as the winter ski season comes to an end, it’s a great time to head down for a visit and check out the beautiful colours as well as get involved in some spring activities.

Top 3 places to visit in spring

If you are looking for ideas on places to visit this spring, here are three of our top tips:

  1. Lake Tekapo – heading to Tekapo in late spring is the perfect time for a visit. The lupins will be in full bloom which offers up a truly magnificent sight, the blue of the lake seems impossibly blue and the clear night skies are perfect for stargazing.
  2. Hamilton – New Zealand is not short on beautiful gardens, however, Hamilton Gardens are simply stunning in the springtime. With five country-themed gardens to explore, you will be blown away by the vibrant colours. There are plenty of other things going on in Hamilton so check out our recent post and discover some of the amazing things to do in Hamilton.
  3. Rangitata River – if you are looking for some action adventure then head for the Rangitata River in Canterbury in the springtime. As the snow begins to melt in the Southern Alps, the rivers are free-flowing which is the perfect time for a spot of white water rafting.

Vote for spring! If spring is your favourite time of the year, either comment with ‘Spring’ below or give our spring photo a thumbs up on Facebook!


Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park
Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park

Summer was the big winner in the team. There is just something about the summer months that brings out the best in all of us. People seem happier in the summer and we’re all excited to be welcoming international visitors back to New Zealand next summer. From December through to February, New Zealand really comes into its own. Summer is the time when the days are longer, the opportunities endless and it’s also the time when most of us take a well-deserved holiday and a break from work. It’s also the time when we welcome people from all around the world to New Zealand and this coming summer will be like no other as people flock from all corners of the globe to explore our beautiful country. No matter where you go in summer, you can expect much of the same; BBQs, ice creams and jandals. Kiwis love to embrace the summer months and it is a great time to come and visit and explore. The sunshine and blue skies seem to make every place sparkle and we definitely look forward to the warmer weather.

Top 3 places to visit in summer

Summer is the time when most tourists flock to New Zealand so picking our top three places to visit in summer was a tricky one but here goes:

  1. Bay of Islands – this place was just made for the summer. A trip to the Bay of Islands is a must. With so many water-based activities, this place is simply humming in the summer months and the temperature can top 30°.
  2. Abel Tasman National Park – we simply love this place. Catch a water taxi into the park or kayak around the crystal clear waters and golden sandy beaches. There are few better places in New Zealand when the sun is shining.
  3. Waiheke Island – making it into our top three is Waiheke Island. Such a great place to get away from it all in the summer months. A 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland and you may even feel the temperature rise a couple of degrees too. Simply stunning. Bonus: In late June 2022, we opened our latest car rental branch on Waiheke. As well as bringing our award-winning customer service and modern fleet of rental cars to Waiheke, we are also offering bike and e-bike hire on the island – a great way to get around. Check out our all-new Waiheke car rental branch today.

Vote for summer! If summer is your favourite time of the year, either comment with ‘Summer’ below or give our summer photo a thumbs up on Facebook!


Cycling in the autumn trees
Cycling in the autumn trees

Now, this is where we start to divide opinions a little bit. There are the warm weather lovers in one corner and the cold crisp day lover in the other. For us, the South Island is perhaps more spectacular than the North in the autumn months. The North Island has a lot of evergreen trees so many places don’t get the thrill of the autumn colours. The South Island on the other hand looks like someone went to town with the yellows, oranges and reds! Whilst it might be colder down in the South Island in autumn, there is no shortage of sunshine and blue skies which form the perfect backdrop to the stunning autumnal colours – make sure your camera is well charged for a trip to any of these places.

Top 3 places to visit in autumn

Whilst you can head to the likes of Matakana or Warkworth north of Auckland or even pay another visit to the gardens in Hamilton, autumn is all about the South Island for us:

  1. Queenstown/Arrowtown – we reckon Arrowtown is one of the most photographed towns in New Zealand and that 90% of those photos are taken in autumn! Heaps of people flock down here to take in the magnificent autumn colours and we can see why.
  2. Wanaka – just over the Cardrona Range, Wanaka is also another great spot for autumn lovers. Lake Wanaka is always spectacular but throw in the golden yellow poplars that line Roys Bay in autumn and it will take your breath away.
  3. Christchurch – it’s not called the Garden City for no reason. Christchurch has more than its fair share of gardens and parks and they all take on a vibrant colour during the autumn. A trip to Hagley Park is a must but you can take your pick. You won’t be disappointed.

Vote for autumn! If autumn is your favourite time of the year, either comment with ‘Autumn’ below or give our autumn photo a thumbs up on Facebook!


View from top of the Remarkbles Mountain, Queenstown, New Zealand
View from the top of the Remarkables Mountain, Queenstown, New Zealand

Perhaps the biggest rival to summer in our little debate was winter. New Zealand is definitely an all-year-round destination and the winter months offer up so much for visitors to both the North and South Islands. The South, and Queenstown in particular is extremely popular with visitors in the winter months. With world-class ski fields in abundance and an awesome apres-ski scene, Queenstown is a must-visit place in New Zealand during those winter months. Pick up a rental car in Queenstown, or take a scenic road trip down from Christchurch.

Not to be outdone, there is plenty for the skiers to enjoy on the North Island too and the Mt Ruapehu ski field is one of the busiest in New Zealand. If skiing is not your thing, you can always take a visit to the ‘winterless’ north which enjoys warmer than average temperatures all through the winter months.

Top 3 places to visit in winter

The South Island once again dominates when it comes to places to visit in the winter but the North Island still has its draws. Here are our top three places to visit in the winter:

  1. Queenstown – whether you’re into skiing or not, Queenstown is an awesome place to visit in the winter months. World-class skiing is of course a big draw but the scenery down here in the winter is truly stunning and can be appreciated by anyone and everyone!
  2. Hanmer Springs – whilst it is possible to ski in and around Hanmer Springs, we recommend heading there for some serious R&R. There is no better place for a thermal spa experience than Hanmer Springs in the winter with the Southern Alps all around. Spectacular!
  3. Rotorua – we wanted to throw in a North Island destination so the South doesn’t have a complete autumn/winter monopoly! Rotorua is a cool place to visit in the winter thanks largely to the amazing thermal spas including plenty of free options.

Vote for winter! If winter is your favourite time of the year, either comment with ‘Winter’ below or give our winter photo a thumbs up on Facebook!

So there you have it. The people have spoken and now all that remains is for you to vote. We think some compelling arguments have been made for each of the seasons but which is your favourite season in New Zealand and when should people really come and pay us a visit down here in NZ? We’d love to hear about your favourite time to visit and where you like to go during your favourite season so let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, we hope this little post has made you think about booking your trip to New Zealand today, no matter what time of the year you are planning on visiting.

Republished: 21 April 2022

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