Monthly weather forecast and climate
New Zealand

Flag of New Zealand
Flag of New Zealand

The climate of New Zealand

New Zealand has a predominantly oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb). A few regions exhibit a subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen Cfc), while mountain tops fall under subarctic (Köppen Dfc) and tundra (Köppen ET) zones. New Zealand lies in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, 1200 miles southeast of Australia. The country consists of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, and numerous small islands. The west coast of the South Island is exceptionally wet, while Central Otago and Canterbury's interior are semi-arid. The far north of the North Island is sub-tropical. The temperate latitudes, prevailing westerly winds, and proximity to the Pacific Ocean chiefly influence the climate. Mountain ranges are a significant factor in climate variations between various locations.

New Zealand lies 42°S of the equator and south of the Tropic of Capricorn. The country has a 990-mile long, and 250-mile narrow, northeast-southwest orientation. The vast coastline extends over 9300 miles. The exclusive economic zone, along with far-flung outlying islands, is 15 times the land area. The snow-capped Southern Alps run north-south in the largest landmass of the country, the South Island. At least 18 mountain peaks in the Southern Alps are over 3000 meters high. Fiord-like sounds, such as the Milford Sound, dominate the southwest. The Cook Strait separates the North and South islands. The North Island consists of a large volcanic plateau, with Mount Ruapehu as its highest mountain at 2797 meters. Sandy beaches dominate the far northern coasts. Lake Taupo, the country's largest lake, lies in the caldera of the Taupo volcano. The highest point in New Zealand is Mount Cook at 3724 meters.

New Zealand has four seasons that occur in the reverse order due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere. The average annual temperatures range between 10°C (50°F) in the south to 16.1°C (61°F) in the north. Temperatures rarely exceed 30°C (86°F) or fall below 0°C (32°F). Summers are warm, with average temperatures between 15.6°C (60.1°F) and 23.9°C (75°F) in the plains. The sunshine is moderate, but the ultraviolet index is high due to little air pollution. The Foehn winds bring high temperatures in the eastern part of the South Island. Winters are cold, with average temperatures between 7.2°C (45°F) and 15.6°C (60.1°F) in the lowlands. The South Island is colder than the North Island. Snowfall occurs mostly in the high mountains and interior regions. Spring is mild and often sees alternate periods of rain and shine. Autumn is mild to cold and sees a rise in precipitation.

The annual rainfall in New Zealand varies from 635mm (25") to 1524mm (60"). However, a few arid places, such as Alexandra, receive only 330.2mm (13"). On the other hand, Mount Cook receives 4470.4mm (176"), and Milford Sound registers a massive 6705.6mm (264") annually. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, with 85 to 150 wet days. The wettest period is from June to September in most regions. The driest period is from December to March. The least annual sunshine of 1400 hours occurs in the cloudiest southwestern part of the South Island. The highest annual sunshine of 2500 occurs in the sunniest northeastern part of the North Island. Snowfall occurs from June to early October. The southern and eastern parts of the South Island and mountainous regions across the country receive snow. The average seawater temperatures register in the cold 10°C (50°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) range over the year. The average wind speeds are in the 12.9km/h (8mph) to 25.7km/h (16mph) range.

The highest temperature on record in New Zealand is 42.4°C (108.3°F) in Rangiora, Canterbury, and Jordon, Marlborough, set on February 7, 1973. The lowest temperature on record is -25.6°C (-14.1°F) in Ranfurly, Central Otago, set on July 18, 1903.

The best time to visit New Zealand

The best time to visit New Zealand is during the summer from December to March. The conditions are warm and pleasant on the North Island, with clear skies and low humidity. The South Island is cool and comfortable in the summer. The average temperatures are in the warm 10°C (50°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) range and rarely go above 30°C (86°F). The daily sunshine lasts between 6 hours and 8 hours during the long summer days. The precipitation is relatively low, and there is ample sunshine for sunbathing on the sandy beaches. However, there is a possibility of tropical cyclones between January and March.

The worst time to visit New Zealand

The worst time to visit New Zealand is during the winter from June to August. Although freezing temperatures are rare, nights remain below 4.4°C (39.9°F) in many regions. July registers 1.1°C (34°F) in Christchurch and -2.2°C (28°F) in Alexandra. The average seawater temperatures are cold and register below 10°C (50°F). The daily sunshine is less between 3 hours and 5 hours, and the days are short. Rain, frost, and snow affect outdoor trips. The North Island has relatively warm temperatures than the South Island in the winter. Snowstorms occur during the winter, but ski-enthusiasts and snow lovers like the cold season.

Weather hazards

New Zealand is prone to floods, earthquakes, volcanic activity, tropical cyclones, and tsunamis. Flooding is the most common natural hazard. Many settlements are close to hilly areas, which receive heavy rainfall. Mountain streams rise rapidly during periods of heavy rain. Christchurch has a history of several earthquakes between magnitude 6 and magnitude 7, especially since 2010. New Zealand records 14,000 earthquakes annually due to the constant activity of the Indo-Australian plate. Tropical cyclones occasionally occur between January and March, mainly on the North Island. Tsunamis affect the country periodically. The Taupo Volcanic Zone in the central part of the North Island is a region with active volcanoes. Droughts occur mostly in Otago and the Canterbury Plains but are less frequent. Forest fires occur during the summer.

Weather in January

January is the warmest month of the year in New Zealand in the summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Wellington, the capital, registers average temperatures in the mild to warm zone of 15°C (59°F) to 21.1°C (70°F). The daily sunshine lasts for 8 hours in the capital, and precipitation is to the tune of 78.7mm (3.1"). Weather in January »

Weather in February

February is the driest month of the year in New Zealand. The average temperatures are in the 13.3°C (55.9°F) to 24.4°C (75.9°F) range in the north. The south is between 10°C (50°F) to 25°C (77°F). The skies are generally bright and remain clear up to 66% of the time in Wellington. Weather in February »

Weather in March

March brings the mild warm autumn season to New Zealand, with a gradual decline of sunshine. The daily sunshine lasts for a maximum of 6 hours in the north and drops to 5 hours in the south. The average temperatures are in the mild 15°C (59°F) to warm 22.8°C (73°F) zone in Auckland and 13.9°C (57°F) to 20°C (68°F) in Wellington. Weather in March »

Weather in April

April is mild to cold in New Zealand during the middle part of the autumn. The landscape is colorful, and the atmosphere is pleasant. Temperatures are mild in Dunedin and Christchurch between 7.8°C (46°F) to 17.8°C (64°F). Napier registers between 10°C (50°F) and 20°C (68°F), while Auckland is in the 12.2°C (54°F) to 20°C (68°F) zone. Weather in April »

Weather in May

May is cold and wet in New Zealand. The temperatures decline to register in the average range of 6.7°C (44.1°F) to 17.8°C (64°F) on the North Island. The South Island registers cold temperatures between 1.7°C (35.1°F) and 16.1°C (61°F). Weather in May »

Weather in June

June is the beginning of the cold and wet winter season in New Zealand. The skies are cloudy up to 44% of the time. The sunlight is weak and lasts between 3 hours and 4 hours in most regions. Taupo is one of the coldest places in the north and registers cold temperatures between 2.8°C (37°F) and 11.7°C (53.1°F). Weather in June »

Weather in July

July is usually the coldest and wettest month of the year in New Zealand. The average temperatures in the north are in the 2.2°C (36°F) to 15.6°C (60.1°F) range, while the south is between -2.2°C (28°F) and 12.8°C (55°F). Nights register below freezing in the highlands. The precipitation ranges between 127mm (5") to 177.8mm (7") in the northern region. Weather in July »

Weather in August

August is cold and wet in much of New Zealand. The skies are cloudy and dark and allow only 4 hours of sunlight every day. Christchurch records 2.2°C (36°F) to 12.2°C (54°F), with cold and frosty nights. Wellington is above freezing in the north between 6.7°C (44.1°F) to 12.2°C (54°F) but receives at least 114.3mm (4.5") of rainfall. Weather in August »

Weather in September

September is wet and cold in New Zealand in the early spring season. The skies begin to clear, and the humidity levels gradually go down. The landscape becomes green with the arrival of the spring. The average temperatures are in the 2.2°C (36°F) to 15.6°C (60.1°F) range, with mild to warm days and cold nights. Weather in September »

Weather in October

October is a mild and wet month in the middle of the spring season in New Zealand. The far south sees significant rainfall between 101.6mm (4") and 127mm (5"). The North Island receives between 76.2mm (3") and 101.6mm (4") of precipitation. The temperatures rise gradually to register in the average range of 4.4°C (39.9°F) to 18.3°C (64.9°F) range. Weather in October »

Weather in November

November is warm and bright in New Zealand, with a significant amount of rain. The skies remain clear up to 60% of the time. Late spring registers an increase in temperatures everywhere. The average temperatures in Auckland register between 12.2°C (54°F) and 19.4°C (66.9°F), while Hamilton is between 10°C (50°F) and 20°C (68°F). Weather in November »

Weather in December

December is the beginning of the warm summer of the Southern Hemisphere in New Zealand. The average temperatures rise to register in the 10°C (50°F) to 21.1°C (70°F) range. Auckland registers between 15°C (59°F) and 22.2°C (72°F), while Wellington is between 11.1°C (52°F) and 17.8°C (64°F). The precipitation is in the range of 76.2mm (3") to 101.6mm (4") in the lowlands and varies by topography. Weather in December »
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