The Expat Hub

The climate in New Zealand

New Zealand’s moderate climate is heavily influenced by the masses of ocean that surround it and the vast mountain ranges that cover the land. Rainfall levels are high all over the country, but the weather is liable to change at any time. Very much like the climate in the UK, days can swing from extreme sunshine to heavy rain in the blink of an eye. Extreme temperatures are fairly rare at both ends of the spectrum.

Countries in the southern hemisphere experience seasons at the opposite time of year to the northern hemisphere; in New Zealand: spring runs from September to October; summer stretches from December to February; autumn is from March to May; and winter hijacks the months of June to August. Rainfall is marginally higher in summer and the temperature generally decreases the further south you go.

Here is a list of the average temperature in different parts of New Zealand:

City: Summer Avg. Temp. Winter Avg. Temp.
Bay Islands 20°C 10°C
Auckland 18°C 12°C
Rotorua 18°C 9°C
Wellington 17°C 9°C
Christchurch 17°C 8°C
Queenstown 16°C 6°C

The sunniest areas such as the Bay of Plenty, Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay receive more than 2000 hours of sunshine each year, so be careful to pack your sun cream – the air in New Zealand is exceptionally free from air pollution and as such UV rays can be particularly dangerous to the skin.

The average amount of rainfall is between 640mm and 1500mm each year, with extreme areas pushing the figure up to 8000mm a year! There are usually dry periods during the year, but there is always a constant risk of rain.

The mountainous peaks of New Zealand are often covered in snow and some of the southern regions can also be subject to the white blanket during winter. Snow is rarely seen by the coast, but country skiing is popular inland.

New Zealand is unfortunate to be located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, and as such it suffers from over 20,000 earthquakes every year. The majority of these are too weak to be felt, but around 200 annually are strong enough to shake the country up a little. To combat the rogue 200 virile tremors New Zealand has implemented building regulations designed to combat the risk.

Strong storms, such as hurricanes, tropical cyclones and tsunamis can hit the country every few years and cause severe damage to property.