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Climate and WeatherBack to top Back to main Skip to menu
New Zealand - Climate and Weather
Despite the fact that the overall climate in New Zealand is temperate, there are climate variations in different regions of the island.
• The Northern Island has a sub-tropical climate
• The Southern Island has a temperate climate
• The inland mountainous regions have alpine and tropical rainforest climates
The weather in New Zealand alternates between warm and sunny and cold and rainy. The country has very unpredictable weather. Cool and snowy mornings can morph into hot and sunny afternoons. However, the weather conditions are mostly mild with some unexpected rains during various times of the year. The Southern Island has slightly lower temperatures than the Northern Island. It also experiences most rain in autumn and spring than the Northern Island, which experiences more rain in winter.
Summer is experienced in the months of December, January and February. It is characterized by high temperatures and lots of sunshine. However, sunshine may be accompanied by some rain in the Southern Islands.
This comes in the months of March, April and May. The temperatures are cooler (16 – 20 degrees Celsius) than summer and the weather is favorable for outdoor activities.
June, July, and August are winter months. The weather is quite cold with temperatures as low as -6 degrees Celsius. The northern islands experience the most rain during winter. Snow also occurs in the mountainous regions.
Spring occurs in September, October, and November. However, it becomes a little bit cold during September before warming up with time. During September, snow in the mountains usually melts. The temperatures range between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius.
Weather changes in New Zealand can occur anytime. Therefore, you should pack all types of clothing when travelling to New Zealand. However, in winter, the most important items are heavy jackets, raincoats, gloves, hoods and any other clothing that you may need when it rains. In autumn, the weather is very cool, so the focus should be on light clothing and gear for various outdoor activities such as swimming and hiking. In summer, light clothes are the best but a few heavy clothes must be packed just in case it starts raining. In spring, you will need heavy clothes for early September and light clothes will come in handy when it warms up. Make sure to follow the weather forecasts to help you know how you should dress when leaving the house and whether you should carry a jacket.
Monthly temperature ranges
New Zealand is typically a country of mild temperatures, but sometimes the temperatures do fall quite low.
• In December, January and February (summer), there are lows of 9 - 15 degrees Fahrenheit and highs of 19 – 24 degrees Fahrenheit.
• In March, April and May (autumn), there are lows of 6 – 13 degrees Fahrenheit and highs of 15 – 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
• In June, July and August (winter), there are lows of 1 – 6 degrees Fahrenheit and highs of 9 – 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
• In September, October and November (spring), there are lows of 5 – 11 degrees Fahrenheit and highs of 13 – 19 degrees Fahrenheit.
New Zealand receives mean annual rainfall of between 500 and 1500 mm. More rain is experienced on the western side of the Southern Island, with the eastern side and the mountains receiving the least rainfall. However, rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year.
In summer, the Mackenzie region records the lowest rainfall of 40 mm while Fiordland, located in the south west of the Southern Island, receives the most rainfall of 350mm a year. Other areas that experience low rainfall are Canterbury and Marlborough. The areas that receive the most rainfall are West Coast and Rotorua.
In autumn, the country experiences a little bit more rainfall. Mackenzie still receives the least amount of rain at 50 mm while Fiordland receives the most rainfall at 360 mm. Northland, Auckland, Coromandel, and Taranaki also experience significant amounts of rain during autumn.
In winter, the rains also increase especially in the Northern Island. Northland, Auckland, Rotorua, and Wellington experience the greatest increase in the amount of rain received. Although the amount of rain experienced in the Fiordland decreases to 260 mm during this period, it still receives the most rain in the island. Central Otago records the lowest amount of rain at 50 mm.
In spring, the amount of rain received in the island decreases except for the West Coast and Fiordland. Fiordland records the most rain at 340 mm while Canterbury recieves the least at 49mm.
In New Zealand, the sun shines throughout the year. The New Zealand atmosphere is known to be quite clean, which allows the sun’s rays to penetrate the atmosphere at a very high rate. This leads to high heat levels even during winter and on cloudy days.
The average amount of sunshine received per year is 2000 hours. Marlborough, Bay of Plenty, and Nelson receive the most sunshine at more than 2300 hours. Invercargill and Dunedin parts of the Southern Island receive the least sunshine at 1500 hours per year. Since New Zealand is a very sunny country, you should always carry sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats when going outdoors to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.
Being an island, New Zealand is quite humid. The lowest humidity levels are experienced during summer. Humidity levels are usually 60 percent during the day and rise to 80 percent at night. The highest humidity levels are experienced during winter. High humidity levels pose a few threats to human health especially for people with a history of chest problems.
New Zealand’s weather is very unpredictable, which can make it quite difficult for you to determine the type of clothes to wear. You may suffer from the effects of the elements if you are not prepared for abrupt weather changes. The country has also experienced destructive tornadoes, landslides, and earthquakes. Nevertheless, New Zealand is safe country that hosts millions of visitors each year.
Read more about this country
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