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The Best Time Of Year To Visit New Zealand

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New Zealand is a great year-round destination, with something for everyone, whatever the season! You may not need convincing when it comes to choosing New Zealand as your road trip destination, but when is the best time to hit the road?

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Travellers roam the country in the summer months which run from December to March. During the warmer months, visitors and locals alike enjoy the beautiful wineries, golden sand beaches and great walks of NZ on offer. Winter in New Zealand (between June and August) is another popular season to travel, with plenty of snowy mountains to marvel at and slopes to ski, plus roads are quieter too.

We’re breaking down the pros and cons of travelling during peak seasons, the perks of travelling during shoulder or off-peak seasons and how you can see and do more in a campervan.

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How To Travel Around New Zealand

New Zealand may have been on your travel bucket list for a while, or you may be a local who’s finally decided to explore your backyard. Either way, a campervan holiday is the best way to get around - the journey is the destination! Sure there are other ways to get around, from planes, trains and ferries and rental cars, but with so many dramatic landscapes and breathtaking views to see, local cuisine to try and hidden gems to discover, a campervan really is your gateway to a great New Zealand adventure.

Campervan Hire New Zealand

Travel New Zealand like never before, in a premium motorhome. Explore the unbeatable range of modern campers at Maui, fully equipped for you to travel in style with all your home comforts. Enjoy the freedom that comes with sticking to your own schedule and take accommodation off your to-do list by hiring a campervan.

Travel Between The Islands

Travelling between towns and cities is one thing but travelling between islands is quite different. Luckily, the Interislander Ferry is a super convenient way to continue the trip with your camper. You can catch the ferry from Wellington and set sail to Picton in New Zealand’s South Island. The sail to the South Island is just as spectacular as the end destination. Be sure to head out on deck when crossing through the Marlborough Sounds and soak in the incredible views. Once you arrive in Picton, embark on the scenic coastal drive down south.

Alternatively, fly to any one of our New Zealand branches to pick up your campervan and choose your own adventure.

Pros of visiting New Zealand during off-peak seasons

You may be asking yourself, what are the off-peak months for travel in New Zealand? The shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn tend to be the ‘off season’ for New Zealand tourism. Spring runs from September to October and is a great time to travel due to quieter roads and the many flowers in bloom. Autumn runs from March to May and you’ll witness the leaves turning red, golden light and crisp, clear evenings as you explore the country.

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If you prefer a loosely planned, somewhat spontaneous sort of holiday, you’ll love visiting New Zealand during the offseason. Enjoy the remote beaches, secure a prime spot for the van, and take advantage of un-crowded tourist attractions. New Zealand has it all going on at any time of the year, but you might have more elbow room to enjoy it if you book to travel during Spring and Autumn. Here are some of the top benefits when travelling during shoulder seasons.

1. Beat the crowds in Spring and Autumn

Enjoy the quiet country roads in your camper during Spring and Autumn. The kids are at school, and most of the country is working, meaning traffic is minimal, and you can hit the open road. Find out how to make the most out of your motorhome.

Tourist attractions are more accessible during Spring and Autumn. You will probably be rewarded with discounted prices during the quieter travel months. It’s no secret that booking a hut on one of The Great Walks Of NZ can be difficult in the height of summer. Wait until the crowds fade away, and you can take your pick of them all.

If you prefer two wheels to two feet, New Zealand has a national cycle (Nga Haerenga) that connects 22 Great Rides with a network of local rides suited to all levels of age and experience. These are open all year round, but more accessible during Spring and Autumn.

Looking for more inspiration for the best places in New Zealand to visit in Spring or Autumn? Explore our guides.

2. Enjoy great weather during the shoulder months

New Zealand’s mild climate means Spring and Autumn are packed with warm days allowing you to make the most of your time there. Consider visiting in Spring, when the sea is warming from a cold grey into a vibrant turquoise and there are lots of cute animals to spot.

While Autumn temperatures are lower than the peak of summer, the weather is usually quite calm and beautiful, perfect for enjoying warm days and comfortable nights in the camper. Your summer clothes will still be appropriate, and the waters are warm enough for a refreshing ocean dip. Make the most of the beautiful fall foliage and golden light on a long scenic drive in your Maui motorhome.

3. Great time to explore the great outdoors

New Zealand is famous for its outdoor activities. Whether you’re into hiking, mountain biking, or kayaking, there’s something for everyone. And, it just so happens that Spring and Autumn are the ideal times for these activities. No one wants to hike up a mountain in the sweltering summer heat or spend all day cycling in the pouring winter rain. The shoulder seasons offer a more temperate climate, perfect for immersing yourself in the great outdoors.

New Zealand is home to world-class stargazing locations with clear skies in Autumn and minimal light pollution; this is the perfect time of year to gaze out at the evening stars. Visit the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to lie under the sparkling night sky. Gaze out at the shooting stars and constellations.

Cons of visiting New Zealand during off-peak season

There really aren’t that many! You’ll want to be mindful of key school holiday dates, as this can mean more Kiwi families are on the road. There are a few public holidays over spring and autumn, so you may also want to check the calendar and ensure that attractions you plan on visiting will be open when you’re passing through.

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Visit New Zealand in Summer

Summer is the peak season for New Zealand travel. Kiwis take full advantage of the school holidays and office closures during the festive season and flock to the country’s coastal areas. This means the roads are busier and accommodation books out far in advance.

Enjoy the long, hot days of summer at the golden sand beaches. Relax by the tempting turquoise waters and recharge your batteries. Fill your days with lake swims and hiking trails and embrace the kiwi summer.

Summer is the perfect time to explore New Zealand’s wine regions. World-famous for its delicious Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, New Zealand has entire regions full of flourishing vineyards. These regions are brimming with boutique wineries and incredible views over beautiful natural landscapes. Travel to Waiheke IslandHawkes Bay and Marlborough to get a taste of the fine wines on offer.

A must-do when visiting New Zealand in summer is the Golden Bay area. You can take a leisurely stroll through the Abel Tasman National Park or tackle the entire 5-day trail. Take on one of The Great Walks Of NZ through the National Park and enjoy beach views for miles. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the sea life around; Stingrays like to bask in the warm shallow waters.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is another top thing to do in New Zealand if you’re an experienced hiker visiting in winter. The rugged terrain is a little more complicated in winter, so booking in with a guide is recommended. You will be rewarded with spectacular views of snowy peaks and turquoise pools. Allow 9 hours for this epic walk.

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Visit New Zealand in Winter

In the winter, tourism moves to the magnificent mountain towns of New Zealand. Queenstown, Wanaka and Ohakune come alive with the influx of visitors and world-class winter sports. Our top picks for skiing are Coronet Peak in Queenstown and Mount Ruapehu in Ohakune. Take your pick and hit the slopes.

Skiing isn’t the only thing that makes New Zealand an epic winter destination. You can marvel at the stunning snow-capped mountains from afar. The cool winter days are ideal for enjoying the geothermal hot pools and springs, prominent in Taupo and Rotorua. When the earth’s crust gets thinner, it heats the water, and when those hot streams reach cold rivers, the waters mix into the perfect temperature for you to sit back and relax. Take full advantage of the hot pools after a long day of hiking; it will soon sort out any of your aches and pains. Head to the Hot Water Beach in Coromandel, the Otumuheke Stream in Taupo, or the Wai-O-Tapu Springs in Rotorua to experience a wonderful thermal retreat.

Embrace yourself in New Zealand’s snowy magic and make a motorhome trip through the stunning scenery.

New Zealand Must-Dos

Regardless of what time of year you’re travelling around New Zealand, there are a few must-dos to add to the top of your travel itinerary.

  1. Take a tour around the world-famous Lord of the Rings movie set, Hobbiton.
  2. Unwind in Rotorua’s Geothermal Hot Pools.
  3. Stroll through Hamilton's beautiful Botanical Gardens.
  4. Visit Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
  5. Go whale watching in Kaikoura.

The best thing about a campervan holiday is the ability to call the shots and plan a holiday that’s tailored to your interests. Check out our get inspired hub for popular routes, travel tips and a guide to the best destinations to start building your itinerary now.

Now You're Ready For Your Next Kiwi Adventure

New Zealand is a bucket list travel destination at any time of the year. With everything from adventure sports to geothermal hot pools, there is something for everyone and fun to be had in every season. So what are you waiting for? Book a Maui motorhome today. Or check out our latest deals and specials here.