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New Zealand Climate

The land of the Long White Cloud - sunny with a chance of hail, gale or rain

Since the Maori people named New Zealand ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, climate has been of paramount importance to the people of New Zealand — many of whom make their living from the land. New Zealand has mild temperatures, moderately high rainfall, and many hours of sunshine throughout most of the country. Its climate is dominated by two main geographical features — the mountains and the sea.

Kayaking Okarito Lagoon on a sunny winter's day

Temperature

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While the far north has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as —10°C in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine.

Because New Zealand lies in the Southern Hemisphere, the average temperature decreases as you travel south. The far north of the country has an average temperature of about 15°C, while the deep south has a cooler 9°C average. January and February are the warmest months of the year, and July is the coldest.

Four Seasons in One Day

New Zealand does not have a large temperature range, lacking the extremes one finds in most continental climates. However, the weather can change unexpectedly — as cold fronts or tropical cyclones quickly blow in. Because of this, you should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature if you’re going hiking or doing other outdoor activities.

Sunshine - heaps!

Most places in New Zealand receive over 2000 hours of sunshine a year, with the sunniest areas — Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Nelson/Marlborough — receiving over 2350 hours. As New Zealand observes daylight saving, during summer months daylight can last up until 9.00pm. New Zealand experiences relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries, which makes the UV rays in our sunlight very strong during the summer months. In order to avoid sunburn, visitors should wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats when they are in direct summer sunlight, especially in the heat of the day (11am — 4pm). While summer is sunnier than the other seasons, most regions in New Zealand have a relatively high proportion of sunlight during the winter months.

The highest temperature ever recorded in New Zealand was 42°C, in Marlborough, Christchurch, and Rangiora (in Canterbury). The lowest temperature ever recorded in New Zealand was —22°C at Ophir, Central Otago.

The Wanaka cycle trail, under blue skies

Rainfall

New Zealand’s average rainfall is high — between 640mm and 1500mm — and evenly spread throughout the year. As well as producing areas of stunning native forest, this high rainfall makes New Zealand an ideal place for farming and horticulture.

Trip Reviews

  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Tui Trip Nov 2017

    My husband and I, along with two other friends, went on the 8 day Tui Trip in November of 2017. It was truly the trip of a lifetime. We spent additional time in NZ on our own, but the Tui Trip was the hands down highlight. This type of trip was our of our usual wheelhouse, typically preferring city based trips, but this may have changed our outlook forever! The day hike in Siberia Valley and night spent under the stars was a personal favorite. Ben and Liana were incredible guides. They made us feel at home immediately, and kept it fun and casual throughout. Our group was the perfect size. By the end of 8 days, it felt like we were leaving a new family behind. I would recommend this trip to anyone and everyone and would do it again in a heart beat!
    Lindsay Busch Review Image
    – Pennsylvania, United States
    Tui, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Exceeded Expectations

    In planning my trip to New Zealand I specifically signed on to the Rimu trip to achieve 3 goals: first to see as much of the South Island as possible in 2 weeks, second to get outdoors and get a feel for the environment and third to have fun with a group of people. My Rimu experience accomplished all three goals and then some. The mixture of driving, and daily activities was perfect. It allowed us to cover lots of terrain while getting us out and active every day. Our guides, Ben and Emma, were terrific. They were tireless workers who not only made us comfortable but created a positive group dynamic that helped bring complete strangers together into a cohesive group. Ben was great at sharing his knowledge of NZ culture and natural history. Emma was a fantastic cook who kept us well fed even at a hut at 1300 meters. Everything about the trip was well organized and well planned. Thank you for such a great experience.
    Tim Reed Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Rimu, January 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Loved it!

    We thoroughly enjoyed our trip and felt we saw and experienced much of the island. Ben and Emma were exceptional guides: friendly, fun, knowledgeable, and hard working! We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with this trip and they went out of their way to make it even more special. The sites were amazing and to top it off we had outstanding weather.
    Bonnie Mastolier Review Image
    – Alaska, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Amazing Tui Trip

    We had an amazing time in New Zealand and enjoyed our Tui trip of the South Island! It was an excellent way to travel and see so many different places in one trip. Our guides, Eve and Katie, were great! They were extremely knowledgeable and very attentive to our needs, and always made sure we were well fed. We would definitely recommend the Tui trip to anyone traveling to New Zealand!
    Dana Pasini Review Image
    – Pennsylvania, United States
    Tui, November 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Worth every penny!

    This was an amazing trip - highly recommended! Our guides, Koru and Liana, were great - kept us moving and active in all kinds of weather and conditions. Some of the planned tour had to be modified due to weather - it does rain a lot - but no regrets at all. We got a taste of New Zealand on beautiful days, rainy days, and once in rain, sleet and hurricane force winds, but we were always well cared for and felt like we'd seen New Zealand in all of it's majesty. The hiking was strenuous enough to feel like a challenge and leave us tired and a bit sore most days, but never too difficult. The Siberia Valley part of the trip was just spectacular! Koru's knowledge of New Zealand's native plants and animals, history, Maori heritage, and Lord of the Rings stories were particularly fascinating. Would love to go again!
    Bob Martin Review Image
    – South Carolina, United States
    Tui, December 2016

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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