In all truth, you can visit NZ anytime of the year and have a pretty special time, however most of our visitors arrive during the Spring and Summer months so what should you expect during these seasons?
During spring, the rivers are full of snow melt and lambs are popping out all over the country. Last year, one of our early cruise ship tours during October in Dunedin was flexible enough to include a pair of twin lambs being born.
The summer months bring with them long days, clear blue skies and temperatures that can soar to 40C (104F) making mosquitos drop like flies. Expect high temperatures and lots of sunshine as kiwis take to the beaches and bush to enjoy a multitude of outdoor activities. You’re never too far from a beach in New Zealand so be prepared to see a lot of sand n’ surf.
New Zealand sits in the South Pacific where predicting the weather can be impossible at times, especially when the wind comes from the south making things colder than a penguin’s pecker, so be prepared by wearing layers.
I’ll summarise what you can expect in the three ports of call we offer tours in – Dunedin, Akaroa and Tauranga. It should be emphasised that these are daily means, not average daily maximum temperatures, so if you arrive on a perfect day add several degrees!
Spring (September – November)
If you’ve booked one our scheduled tours in Tauranga the chances are you’ll be heading through to Rotorua where you’ll experience a mild climate with a daily high for 17-20C (64-68F). Rotorua springs to life during the annual Tulip fest, with over 100, 000 tulips planted throughout the city. It’ll pay to take a few minutes to sniff them too because you’ll be sniffing hydrogen sulfide for the rest of the day, the compound that is distinctive in volcanic areas and also responsible for the awful smell skunks and rotten eggs give off – don’t worry, you’ll get used to it, the 70 000 locals have.
Akaroa harbour is a popular place to come across marine wildlife, in particular dolphins and occasionally Orca whales. The small Hector dolphins are resident in the harbour and can often be seen from a boat. There is no official ‘orca viewing’ season however there are usually a few sightings during spring so if you’re out on the deck of your cruise ship keep your eye’s peeled, you might see them feeding on some rays. Expect an average of 17C or 64F
Spring brings life, expect to see a number of chicks of various waders and waterfowl on your trip with us in Dunners. October and November represent the windiest months here – hold on to your hats! There can be quite a variation in temperature during this period with an average low of 5C and high of 17C.
A visit to Larnach Castle’s garden’s during spring is a great time to see the Laburnum Pergola in full bloom. It’s quite an amazing view looking towards the city, this flower tunnel is a great picture opportunity if the weather plays the game.
Summer (December – February)
Summer time up this way is pleasant, temperatures can rise to about 29C (84F). Make sure you bring a hat and some sun screen because you’ll need it. Rotorua is one of the top travel destinations in New Zealand, it’s a place where many visitors enjoy learning about NZ’s indigenous people (a third of the population are Maori) and experience our geothermal wonderland first hand. Rotorua’s location is inland and sheltered by high country to the south and east making it less windy than most of the exposed port of calls your likely to visit during a cruise around NZ.
In general, most New Zealanders go on holiday during the school holidays (December 14th – January 29th). Akaroa is a popular holiday destination, where many kiwis have ‘holiday homes’ so the town’s population swells during this period. Water restrictions are often enforced during the summer as temperatures soar with spectacular blooms of vibrant lupins and gorse spreading across the hills. Travelling across Bank Peninsula is one of the great scenic drives New Zealand has to offer – the views of the Southern Alps before you descend into Christchurch are amazing. On average, January is the hottest month in Christchurch with highs of 23C to be expected.
Down south in Dunedin the average high during the summer is 18C with an average yearly rainfall of below 800mm of rain, so its dry but unfortunately, we do get most of that rainfall during the summer. Interestingly, the rainfall does decrease as you leave the city and head towards some our coastal beaches – we have some of the finest beaches in New Zealand, and there so close to the city. You can’t really say you’ve been to Dunedin unless you’ve set foot on one of our beaches. Book one of our Dunedin tours and you’ll get a chance take your shoes off and feel the sand between your toes.