Site Search:

New Zealand's Climate and Weather Patterns

Author: Grant Eckert

The weather in New Zealand is often like the country's landscape: dramatic, wild and unpredictable. For such a small country, New Zealand has an incredibly varied climate, and there can be major differences in the weather. New Zealand's climate creates some diverse landscapes as well, ranging from almost tropical conditions in the north to snowy glaciers in the south.

Just like neighboring Australia, the seasons are the reverse of those in the northern hemisphere, when it is winter in the United States and Europe; it is summer in New Zealand, The reverse is true as well. Summer temperatures can be as high as 104F degrees; winter temperatures can plunge to 14F degrees. Also, like Australians, New Zealanders also tend to take their main summer holiday between the middle of December and the end of January, something to consider when planning a trip.

Most visitors to New Zealand notice the similarities with England - the country was once a British colony, after all. One of the biggest similarities is the weather - just like the UK, New Zealand has what is called a maritime climate. The weather is influenced by the sea, no place in the country is more than 79 miles from the sea, and it can also be very transient. The differences in temperature tend to be more pronounced on the South Island.

Similar to England, New Zealand experiences its fair share of rain, although many rain showers are over quickly. On both of the islands, the west side tends to be wetter as the country's interior mountains block the moisture laden winds that blow in from the Tasman Sea. On average, the wettest part of the country is the southern part of the South Island and winter tends to be the wettest month.

One of the wettest places in the country is the area around Milford Sound, the area averages around 23 feet of rain per year and the record rainfall in one day was 9 inches. Milford Sound is actually a fjord, a narrow inlet, surrounded by steep mountains rising up from the sea and is considered to be one of the most spectacular places in a country that is not short on dramatic scenery.

Many visitors claim that Milford Sound is actually at its most dramatic in the rain, when the many waterfalls swell and cascade down the cliffs, and throw dramatic plumes of spray into the air. The area takes on an almost mysterious quality, and if it looks vaguely familiar, several scenes for the recent "Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy were filmed here. Even on clear days, the weather in the area tends to be unpredictable.

However, New Zealand's forecast does not always include rain. New Zealanders enjoy their summer, which lasts from around the beginning of December to the end of February. In many towns and villages, the arrival of summer means an abundance of outdoor festivals and events, popular summer events include the Auckland Regatta, the Wellington Carnival and the spectacular New Zealand Air Games.

Summer also brings an increase in visitors arriving to enjoy the so-called extreme sports that New Zealand has become known for: white water rafting, jet boating, caving and mountaineering. Also included is most extreme of extreme sports: bungee jumping. The capital of extreme sports is Queenstown, which enjoys an average summer temperature of around 72F degrees.

One aspect that many visitors to New Zealand notice is the clarity of the air. Because of the relatively small amount of industry and the constant exposure to winds, the skies are often bright and clear, which are perfect for photography. New Zealand has long been recognized for its environmental efforts, it was the first country to declare itself a nuclear-free zone and to ban nuclear powered ships from its waters.

The most extreme weather in New Zealand occurs in the Southern Alps, the line of mountains that straddles the South Island. In this area, snow, heavy rain or strong winds can occur virtually any time of the year. Temperatures can fall quickly and rain and melting snow can quickly cause rivers and streams to flood. If you are visiting the Alps, you should anticipate a change in weather before the day is over.

New Zealanders love to ski and the country is one of the biggest ski destinations in the southern hemisphere. Ski resorts generally open in June, although the best conditions can usually be found from July to early September. Some ski resorts stay open into October, including Whakapapa, the country's biggest and most crowded resort.

So, if you are planning a trip to this remote and beautiful country, plan for several kinds of weather, from rain to sun and strong wind. As they say in some parts of the country - if you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes.

Reviews / Comments for New Zealand's Climate and Weather Patterns

No reviews have been written write a review now.

Developed by Wetstone Technologies