Your Trip to New Zealand: The Complete Guide

Best Time to Visit

Weather & Climate

Top Places to Visit

North Island vs. South Island

Cities to Visit

Getting Around New Zealand

Best Auckland Hotels

New Zealand's Airports

Driving in New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand With Kids

One Week in New Zealand

North Island Road Trip

South Island Road Trip

Top Things to Do

Best Beaches

Skiing in New Zealand

Top National Parks

Museums & Art Galleries

Hot Springs

Wildlife Reserves

Must-Try Food in New Zealand

New Zealand's Wine Regions

Best Restaurants

Nightlife in New Zealand

September in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Jonathan Chiang / Scintt / Getty Images

September marks the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. In New Zealand , the skiers start to pack up their snow gear and head home, but the influx of summer travelers won't arrive for at least another month. The weather warms country-wide as new signs of life crop up everywhere: trees leafing out, flowers blooming, and baby lambs by the millions dotting the countryside (there are more than 10 sheep for every person in New Zealand).

While it's still a bit cool to swim at the beaches in the north, the warm days are perfect for walking and exploring the coast. Ski fields on both the North and South Islands remain open through September, so powder seekers can still hit the slopes. Spring is a popular season for white-water rafters as melting snow increases river levels. And because it's considered the low season, tourists are more apt to get deals on accommodation and activities around the country.

New Zealand Weather in September

New Zealand is a small place (about the size of Colorado), but its north and south tips can vary drastically in terms of temperatures and weather . While the beaches in the Bay of Plenty beckon bikinis and sunscreen, the Southern Alps remain snow-capped and chilly year-round. Average daytime temperatures during spring tend to linger above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) throughout most of the country.

  • Aukland : 62 F (17 C) / 49 F (9 C)
  • Rotorua : 68 F (20 C) / 41 F (5 C)
  • Wellington : 57 F (14 C) / 47 F (8 C)
  • Christchurch : 59 F (15 C) / 40 (4 C)
  • Queenstown : 55 F (13 C) / 36 F (2 C)

The weather isn't stable in September. Crisp, sunny days can quickly turn dreary and cool.  Auckland gets about 13 days of rain, on average, and the mountainous Milford Sound region gets about 17 days during September.

What to Pack

Given the season's unpredictability, you'll want to pack for all sorts of weather and activities. Long-sleeved shirts (opt for technical, moisture-wicking fabrics), sweaters, and a pullover or waterproof jacket are musts and an umbrella would be a bonus.

Comfortable, waterproof walking shoes or hiking boots are essential if you plan to explore New Zealand's many trails on your spring vacation. Bring a day pack where you can stow water and an extra layer of clothing while you're out for the day. And even though you may encounter a lot of rain, you should still pack hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Kiwis stick to a simple, laid-back style. Outdoorsy attire is the norm and even at upscale restaurants and bars, the dress code is casual. It's best to dress for practicality than fashion in this country. If you plan to partake in one of the country's famous adventure activities (white-water rafting, skiing, golfing, skydiving, or bungee jumping), make sure to bring activity-specific clothing and gear. You can always rent locally, but prices are generally expensive.

September Events in New Zealand

September not only marks the much-anticipated return of certain outdoor activities; it also draws a drove of fun festivals and events.

  • New Zealand Fashion Week : This seven-day gathering of local and international designers in Auckland typically ends the first week of September. In addition to runway shows, the event features free, open-to-the-public exhibits and workshops around the city. It's been canceled in 2020.
  • Whitianga Scallop Festival: Celebrating all things seafood in Whitianga, Coromandel (on the North Island), is the annual Scallop Festival, a great opportunity to sample the local fruits of the sea and learn about the area's maritime heritage. The event would typically entertain with live music, cooking classes, and chef demonstrations, but it's been canceled in 2020.
  • World of WearableArt (WOW) : This month-long design show and competition opens in Wellington at the end of August and attracts entries from more than 40 countries. WOW showcases the best, most innovative wearable art creations in a spectacular event attended by thousands. WOW 2020 has been canceled.
  • Wellington Spring Festival : The capital celebrates the return of spring with a parade, arts and crafts booths, and an art show. It all takes place at the Wellington Botanic Garden, which puts on a grand display of blooming tulips this time of year.
  • Lambing season at Cornwall Park : September is when countless lambs are born in the countryside of New Zealand, but you can see the wooly critters up close at Cornwall Park, a farm in the middle of Auckland. By the end of September, Cornwall Park moves the lambs who are strong enough to an area where they can be viewed by the public. Read the park rules before going to ensure the lambs are kept safe and healthy.

September Travel Tips

  • New Zealand's school holidays start toward the end of September, which means early in the month is less crowded and ideal for touring.
  • Parks are full of spring flowers in September, so be sure to stop by the  Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park or the Wellington Botanic Garden for ample photo ops.
  • The  ski fields on the North Island  will still be open and the ski fields on the South Island and Central North Island provide some late-season skiing and snowboarding, but most usually close by the end of the month.

October in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

November in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

January in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

March in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

August in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

December in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

July in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

April in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

The Best Time to Visit New Zealand

The Best Time to Visit Japan

The Best Time to Visit Spain

How to Spend One Week in New Zealand

The Best Time to Visit Oklahoma City

The Best Fall Getaways for Families

Weather in New Zealand: Climate, Seasons, and Average Monthly Temperature

How to Travel From Taupo to Wellington by Plane, Bus, and Car

new zealand travel september

  • Itineraries
  • Short breaks
  • Waitangi & Bay of Islands Region
  • Far North & Northland Region
  • Auckland & Auckland Region
  • Thames & Coromandel Peninsula Region
  • Hamilton & Waikato Region
  • Tauranga & Bay of Plenty Region
  • Napier & Hawkes Bay Region
  • New Plymouth & Taranaki Region
  • Wellington & Wairarapa Region
  • Blenheim & Marlborough Region
  • Nelson & Nelson Region
  • Greymouth & West Coast Region
  • Christchurch & Canterbury Region
  • Dunedin & Otago Region
  • Queenstown & Arrowtown
  • The Catlins Region
  • Invercargill & Southland Region
  • Stewart Island
  • National Parks
  • Maori Culture
  • Conservation
  • Walks & Hikes
  • Gardens & Parks
  • Odd & Unusual
  • Heritage & Art
  • Plan Your Trip
  • Travel Guides
  • Best Time to Visit
  • Travel deals
  • Seasons in New Zealand: Weather and Rainfall Travel Facts for Overseas Visitors
  • New Zealand in September – Things to Do & Reasons to Visit

New Zealand in September - Things to Do & Reasons to Visit

Is it your first time in New Zealand and not sure what to do? Check out Best Bits – Things to Do as you sort out the best month to visit New Zealand.

Weather in New Zealand is four seasons in one day . Aotearoa New Zealand is several skinny narrow islands isolated in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Glorious day throughout the year is a promise together with the option of rain throughout the year. 

Seasons are the opposite to Europe, United Kingdom, North America (northern hemisphere) creating a great winter escape for our neighbours in the Far East and beyond. Peak season is summer, December to February.

September is for wildlife and birding enthusiasts with spring lambs in paddocks, albatross sitting on nests, and seals tending to newborn pups. The night sky is clearer with Aurora Australis a tendril promise in the sky.

new zealand travel september


In NZ early spring heralds wildlife bursts of activity and baby lambs frolicking. September and October are peak months for viewing wildlife with new births and a flurry of activity around feeding hungry mouths. Adrenaline adventure tourism has fast flowing white water rafting on offer with the spring melt creating ideal conditions for visitors.

Aurora Australis temperamental light show is still around. New Zealand photo opportunities galore. Expect some wintry blasts from the past in a month transitioning to spring. Best time to visit in September is the last week of the month.

  • Whitianga Scallops Festival is seafood bonanza
  • World of Wearable Art (WOW) Award Show (Wellington) unmissable fantasy art dressed up on people
  • Spring tourist travel deals from accommodation to tours, usually at short notice so be prepared to check regularly . It is unlikely places will be fully booked. Although heading into October (beginning of the peak season check status beforehand)

new zealand travel september

TIP: Walks can be closed due the lambing season. Check on the Department of Conservation website for updates.

new zealand travel september


North Island NZ September monthly average temperature:

Average low + 7°c  

Average high + 17°c  

South Island NZ September monthly average temperature:

Average low + 3°c 

Average high + 13°c 

Check out New Zealand average temperatures for the month you are planning to visit either the North or South Island. Or anywhere in between. The most reliable weather forecast service is NZ Met Service .


Four seasons, four opportunities to experience what New Zealand has to offer visitors. The climate, the daily weather forecast and the distinct seasons add to the rich palate of attractions from spring festivals to winter ski resort activities.

Find out more

new zealand travel september


  • Monthly temperature data is sourced from Monthly | NIWA . For visitors fascinated by climate change data NIWA provides a rich publicly available resource to browse
  • Source The uniqueness of New Zealand plants an excellent school resource handy for visitors to help understand NZ’s unique biodiversity



Best Bits travel guide is published by . Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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New Zealand in September: A Guide to New Zealand during the Spring

September in New Zealand marks the end of the winter and the beginning of the warmer spring time season. New Zealand in September is characterized by seasonally warmer temperatures and yet wintry cool breezes are still a regular feature.

Temperatures can soar to the high teens and early twenties and swing back as equally drastically to below zero within the same day. Since September marks the advent of the spring season, the weather tends to be particularly unpredictable during this time of year. 

Weather in New Zealand in September

  • September marks the dawn of spring in New Zealand and with this comes the much-awaited warmer temperatures! The temperatures around the North Island fluctuate from lows of around 6°C to highs of 17°C while the South Island experiences temperatures ranging from highs of 17°C while lows, during the nights become much colder and can reach 1°C. 
  • While the winter season may have officially drawn to a close in September, and the mountains start shedding itself of skiers and snowboarders, New Zealand turns over a new leaf during this month.
  • Signs of spring make themselves known as flowers begin to bloom and the ice begins to thaw as temperatures around the country inch up the thermometer. 

Hagley Park in Spring

  • As is the case throughout the year, the weather tends to be colder and drier the further South you head from the North Island. While Rotorua and Wellington experience relatively warmer highs temperatures of 20 and 15°C respectively, Queenstown’s September temperatures rarely ever exceed 13°C. 
  • Regions around Lake Tekapo and Nelson will bloom with life and the bright lilacs and purples of wildflowers around the region will surely make for incredible sights and even more captivating Instagram pictures.
  • With the warming temperatures, most of the activities that would have been closed during the winter months will have opened up over the month of September. This is the perfect month for wildlife enthusiasts, as parks and sanctuaries begin to open up.  

Lupins in bloom

  • The rainfall during September also tends to be considerably less heavier than it was in July and August as well. The days also grow longer as winter draws to a close, making it more convenient for tourism and is more conducive to sightseeing activities. 

Where to Go in New Zealand in September

  • While the winter season may have ended, the ski fields around Tongariro National Park around the North Island still remain open through the month and offer great skiing. The ski slopes in the South Island, around Queenstown and Wanaka also remain open, offering the perfect chance for snowboarders and skiers to get in some late-season, spring skiing done! Ensure that you head to the mountains of the South Island early on in September because the ski resorts tend to shut by the end of the month.


Christchurch Botanic Gardens

  • Christchurch in particular comes alive with the bright and vibrant colours of spring. Hagley Park, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, or the Wellington Botanic Garden all would become ideal hotspots for getting the perfect floral Instagram picture! The Garden City truly lives up to its name and bursts into life during September. 


  • Queenstown and Wanaka also begin to earn their reputation for being the Mecca for adventure sports as temperatures warm up. More activities like jet boating and bungy jumping becomes more commonplace as the weather becomes more accommodating. White water rafting becomes a particularly enjoyable activity to do as the melted water from the glaciers begin to fill up the rivers with frothy water that is perfect for rafting.

Wildlife Sanctuaries

  • New Zealand’s unique and endemic wildlife, marine mammals, and bird species become most active during springtime, so a visit to any of New Zealand’s wildlife sanctuaries is sure to be a hugely rewarding experience! 

Hamilton Gardens

  • Hamilton is another New Zealand town that is famous for its gardens and September is the ideal time to watch the flowers come into their own! Botanic gardens around the country become magnets for spectacular floral arrangements and the most famous ones can be found at Christchurch, Hamilton, Auckland, and Wellington. 

Events in New Zealand in September 

September heralds the beginning of the spring season in New Zealand and nothing gets the Kiwis more excited than springtime. The number of festivals across the country that celebrate the dawning of spring does not go unnoticed and offers travellers that have grown weary of the cold a much-needed respite with splashes of floral colour and springtime mirth.

Spring Festivals

  • Festivals that celebrate the coming of spring like the Alexandra Blossom Festival and Nelson’s Cherry Blossom Festival are proof of this! September is also popular for the array of comedy festivals and pop-ups that occur at bars and comedy clubs in Auckland and Wellington especially, known for the distinctive brand of Kiwi comedy on show for those looking for a few laughs.

Auckland on Water Boat Show

Auckland on Water Boat Show

  • Auckland Harbour also plays host to one of the country’s best boat shows, the Auckland on Water Boat Show. The Auckland Harbor comes alive with boats of all kinds ranging from simple dinghies to lavish, multi-million dollar yachts and everything in between. 

What to Pack for New Zealand in September

While spring may have well and truly arrived by September, the early days of the month still feature plenty of cold weather and cool breezes. So it is essential to pack warm, waterproof, and protective clothing as an important part of your luggage.

  • Your suitcases can contain summer-y tees or shirts, alongside loungewear as the temperatures continue to warm up. Woollen beanies, socks, and sweaters will be especially appreciated during the cold winter nights on the South Island especially. 
  • Waterproof clothing can be especially important in Auckland in particular as the city experiences most of the year’s rainfall during this time, and while rainfall is less in September, Auckland still faces considerable rainfall, so be sure to pack accordingly.
  • September is particularly known for how unpredictable the weather is, so be sure to prepare for all eventualities!

This post was published by Ken Chiramel

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Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Places to Visit in New Zealand

Nz pocket guide is 10 years old. thank you for trusting us with your trip for over a decade, where to visit in new zealand and when.

Let’s be honest, New Zealand can be enjoyed year-round. However, if we have to be picky, there are a few destinations that are just that little bit better during some months than others. So when you’re planning your New Zealand travel itinerary, keep these destinations in mind with our month-by-month guide to the best places to visit in New Zealand!

You’ll notice that New Zealand has different seasons to what you experience in the Northern Hemisphere. In New Zealand, the seasons are summer (December, January and February), autumn (March, April and May), winter (June, July and August) and spring (September, October and November). Find out more about The New Zealand Seasons and Climate and  When is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?

New Zealand Month-by-Month

Click on the month you are coming to New Zealand to see what there is to do, what the weather is like, and what prices to expect.

New Zealand in January

  • New Zealand in February

New Zealand in March

New zealand in april.

  • New Zealand in May

New Zealand in June

New zealand in july.

  • New Zealand in August
  • New Zealand in September
  • New Zealand in October
  • New Zealand in November

New Zealand in December

January – northland.

Northland is famous for having the warmest weather in the whole of New Zealand so take full advantage of this in summer! Explore the amazing Bay of Islands, packed with water activities, visit the northernmost point of New Zealand at the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, and enjoy an awesome road trip along the coast.

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Northland

  • Paihia for its wealth of water activities and boat trips in the Bay of Islands
  • Cape Reinga Lighthouse with awesome views from the northernmost point of New Zealand
  • Nighty Mile Beach to do sandboarding on the sand dunes (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )
  • Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri are among some of the most majestic waterfalls in the country
  • Poor Knights Islands are a top diving location (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )!

For more Northland inspiration, see our Northland destination category .

February – Hawke’s Bay

Summer is by far the best time to visit the Hawke’s Bay region of the North Island. Not only does the region’s main city, Napier, host the unmissable Art Deco Festival on the streets of it’s Art Deco style buildings, but the whole coastline is also lined with amazing beaches best experienced when it’s “beach weather”.

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Hawke’s Bay

  • The Art Deco Festival in Napier (usually around mid-February)
  • Cape Kidnappers to see amazing coastal landscape and the world’s largest mainland gannet colony (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )
  • Waimarama Beach ( see more Hawke’s Bay beaches here )
  • Lake Waikaremoana to do one of the New Zealand Great Walks
  • Hawke’s Bay Wine Trail – visit all the wineries around Napier and Hastings

Find out more things to do in Hawke’s Bay in our 10 Hawke’s Bay Must-Dos .

March – Gisborne

As the days start to get a little cooler, a good place to still get some consistently good weather is in the Gisborne region of the North Island. It’s also the best time to see the Eastwoodhill Arboretum as the autumn colours start to emerge in the largest collection of Northern Hemisphere trees in the Southern Hemisphere! Gisborne is also a great New Zealand destination for road tripping by campervan!

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Gisborne

  • Eastwoodhill Arboretum for their autumn colours!
  • The Rere Rockslide and Rere Falls – slide down the world’s longest natural waterslide
  • East Cape Lighthouse to watch the sunrise at the easternmost point of New Zealand
  • Relax with a glass of wine at the Gisborne Wine Centre or one of the surrounding vineyards
  • Walk the longest pier in New Zealand, Tolaga Bay Wharf

Find out more to do in Gisborne in our 10 Must-Dos in Gisborne

April – Milford Sound

April is considered the shoulder season in New Zealand meaning that you often feel like you have the whole country to yourself. Take advantage of this by visiting one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Zealand during it’s quietest time. What’s more, the unpredictable weather means you could see Milford Sound in the sun or dramatic waterfalls under the rain. It’s win-win!

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Milford Sound

  • Take a kayak tour or boat cruise in the majestic fiord of Milford Sound
  • Take on one of the many walks in the wild Fiordland forest
  • Go scuba diving to see black coral
  • Walk to one of the many stunning Fiordland lakes like Lake Gunn or Lake Marion
  • Enjoy an epic road trip down the Milford Road.

For more things to do in Milford Sound, see Guide to Milford Sound and the Milford Road .

May – Wellington

The weather might be starting to turn to sh*t, but New Zealand’s cultural and political capital is the best place to spend this time between autumn and winter. Packed with lots of indoor activities, Wellington has the Weta Workshop for movie buffs, the Te Papa Museum to learn more about New Zealand, and not to mention all the eateries and bars to enjoy the Kiwi city lifestyle.

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Wellington

  • Te Papa Museum is the national museum of New Zealand free entry!
  • Take a tour around the Weta Workshop to see how The Lord of the Rings and other movies were made (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )
  • Try the local cuisine by following our guide in Cheap Eats in Wellington
  • On a good day, walk around the huge Wellington Botanic Garden
  • Check out the Wellington nightlife .

For more Wellington inspiration, see 10 Wellington Must-Dos .

June – Rotorua

As New Zealand starts to plunge into winter, nowhere looks better than the steaming geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. All the steaming lakes, bubbling mud pools, geysers and vibrant formations are much more emphasised in cooler weather.

5 Places in Rotorua You Can’t Miss

  • Any of the many geothermal parks to see the earth in action!
  • One of the many captivating Maori cultural performances
  • The Skyline Gondola for the seriously fun Luge rides (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )
  • One of these 5 Free Natural Hot Pools in Rotorua
  • Walk or mountain bike through the Redwoods forest

There’s so much to do in Rotorua, just see 20 Awesome Places to Visit in Rotorua .

July – Queenstown

In the thick of winter, be sure to check out the adventure capital, Queenstown! There are four ski fields within an hour’s drive of the town. Plus, most of its adventure activities can be done even at this time of year. You’ll find that Queenstown is definitely the most lively New Zealand town in winter.

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Queenstown

  • The Remarkables ski field is one of the closest ski fields to Queenstown with the best mountain views
  • The Kawarau Bungy is the first commercial bungy jumping location in the world (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )!
  • Glenorchy for an awesome road trip with great mountain scenery
  • Take on the terrifying Canyon Swing (on Viator and Tripadvisor )
  • Keep warm in the Onsen Hot Pools (on Viator and Tripadvisor )

For more Queenstown inspiration, see 10 Queenstown Must-Dos.

August – Methven

For more winter sports fun, don’t miss Methven in the Canterbury region of the South Island. This small town comes alive in winter with the opening of the Mt Hutt Ski Field. Plus, with lots of walking trails, you’ll find plenty more things to do if you don’t want to strap on a pair of skis.

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Methven

  • Ski at the Mt Hutt Ski Field
  • The Rakaia Gorge for stunning walks and jet boat rides
  • Washpen Falls for waterfalls, views and a lagoon with a rowing boat
  • The Mt Hutt Forest for a sheltered walk at the base of Mt Hutt
  • Paradiso Cinema to cosy up with a movie on a cold winter’s night.

Check out more things to do in 5 Methven Must-Dos .

September – Hamilton

Spring is here and a great time to visit the most famous gardens in New Zealand, the Hamilton Gardens! The Hamilton Gardens is free-entry and packed with stunning themed gardens that will come into bloom during September. Hamilton also makes a great base for exploring the wider Waikato region, such as the surf town of Raglan or even the glowworm caves of Waitomo!

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Hamilton

  • The Hamilton Gardens for their amazing blooming spring flowers
  • Waitomo caves to do caving and see glowworms
  • Raglan to catch some waves before the busy summer season
  • Zealong Tea Estate to taste tea in New Zealand’s only tea plantation
  • Hobbiton to see how The Lord of Rings was made (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )

For more things to do in Hamilton, check out the 10 Hamilton Must-Dos .

October – Taupo & Tongariro

Just as the winter has passed and before the summer crowds make their way to New Zealand, Taupo and Tongariro are the best places to visit in October. Walk the most popular day hike in New Zealand, the Tongariro Crossing while there are still remains of snow on the volcano-tops among the volcanic vents and Emerald Lake. It’s also a great time to try out the adventure activities that Taupo has to offer.

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Taupo & Tongariro

  • Hike the Tongariro Crossing for its amazing volcano views
  • Kayak or take a boat trip to the Maori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupo
  • Skydive over New Zealand’s largest lake (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )
  • See the impressive Huka Falls
  • Bathe in the natural hot spring at Spa Park

For more Taupo inspiration, see 10 Taupo Must-Dos .

November – Aoraki Mt Cook

Marvel in the majestic mountain landscape in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park in the South Island! During the last month of spring, the mountain village in the heart of Southern Alps comes alive again for sensation walks, glacier heli-hikes, scenic flights and so much more!

5 Places You Can’t Miss in Aoraki Mt Cook

  • The Hooker Valley Walk or one of the other 5 Aoraki Mt Cook Must-Dos
  • Take a scenic flight around New Zealand’s highest mountains and longest glaciers (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )
  • Do a glacier heli-hike on the Tasman Glacier (on Viator and Tripadvisor )
  • Take a boat tour around the Tasman Glacier Lake among giant icebergs
  • Stargaze in the middle of an International Dark Sky Reserve .

For more things to do in Mt Cook, see 5 Aoraki Mt Cook Must-Dos .

December – Bay of Plenty

While Christmastime means snow for much of the Northern Hemisphere, it means summer has just begun in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a great time to explore the coast of the Bay of Plenty region in the North Island, especially at the pohutukawa trees (the New Zealand Christmas tree) starts to blossom red flowers.

5 Places You Can’t Miss in the Bay of Plenty

  • Kayak in Whakatane to the wildlife sanctuary of Whale Island or along the pohutukawa-lined coast of Ohope
  • Walk on New Zealand’s only active marine volcano at White Island [Update: White Island tours have been suspended until further notice.]
  • Bike the Motu Trails at Opotiki
  • Climb The Mount at Mt Maunganui in Tauranga
  • Go on a dolphin swimming tour from Tauranga (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor )

For more Bay of Plenty inspiration, see the Bay of Plenty destination category .

More About Which Month to Visit New Zealand

  • When is the Best Time to Go Backpacking in New Zealand?
  • New Zealand in a Month: Road Trip Itinerary
  • The Best Time to Visit New Zealand

Plus, have you planned your route around New Zealand yet? Check out the following itineraries for the best road trip routes!

  • North Island in One Week: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
  • South Island in One Week: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
  • North Island in Two Weeks: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
  • South Island in Two Weeks: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
  • New Zealand in Three Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary

The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

  • Tourism New Zealand (General travel advice - Updated [2024])
  • Immigration New Zealand (Visa and immigration advice - Updated [2024])
  • New Zealand Customs Service (Customs and Biosecurity - Updated [2024])
  • New Zealand Traveller Declaration (NZTD online platform - Updated [2024])
  • Tiaki Promise (Care for people place and culture - Updated [2024])
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Exploring New Zealand in September: A Guide to Weather, Activities, and Travel Tips

Homepage Blog Travel Information

Posted Jun 06, 2024 in Travel Information

New Zealand in September

Welcome to the enchanting world of New Zealand in September! As the chill of winter recedes and spring begins to unfold, this beautiful country reveals its lush landscapes and a host of activities perfect for any traveler. 

Whether you’re looking to embrace the great outdoors, indulge in local cultural festivities, or simply enjoy the milder weather, September in New Zealand offers a unique opportunity to explore without the crowds of peak tourist season. 

Join us as we delve into what makes this month an ideal time for an adventure in one of the most picturesque destinations on earth.

Is September a Good Time to Visit New Zealand?

New Zealand in September offers a unique blend of early spring weather and vibrant landscapes, making it a captivating time for travelers. As the winter chill begins to wane, the country bursts into life with blossoming flowers and gradually warming days. 

This transitional period is not only picturesque but also less crowded, providing a more relaxed touring experience. 

In September, New Zealand experiences a mix of warming weather with daytime temperatures often reaching the high teens to low twenties (°C). However, chilly breezes can still cause temperatures to drop sharply, sometimes below freezing, within the same day.

September in New Zealand

Weather in New Zealand in September

Expect a mix of cool mornings and pleasantly mild afternoons throughout New Zealand during September. In the North Island, temperatures generally hover around 11°C to 16°C, while the South Island can be a bit cooler, ranging from 8°C to 15°C. 

It’s a time when you might still catch the tail end of winter's crispness in the air, particularly in the southern regions, yet the days grow increasingly warmer.

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Things to Do in New Zealand in September

Explore spring gardens.

The Auckland Botanic Gardens burst into color in September, showcasing over 10,000 plants from around the world in a serene setting. Meanwhile, the Dunedin Botanic Garden offers a stunning display of early spring blooms and a rich collection of exotic and native species, making it a tranquil retreat for nature lovers.

Experience Adventure Sports

Thrill-seekers can plunge into white-water rafting on the Kaituna River for heart-pounding rapids or tackle the trails in Rotorua for some world-class mountain biking. Both activities provide an exhilarating way to experience New Zealand’s rugged landscapes and are perfect for adrenaline junkies looking for a challenge.

Kaituna River

Celebrate Spring Festivals

The Hawke's Bay Spring Festival celebrates the season with wine tastings, garden tours, and culinary events, capturing the essence of spring in the region. The Alexandra Blossom Festival, a herald of spring since 1957, features parades, live music, and a carnival atmosphere that brings the community and visitors together in celebration.

Ski the Slopes

In the South Island, Queenstown and Wanaka are prime destinations for skiing well into September, with their peaks often still blanketed in snow. Queenstown offers a vibrant ski scene with diverse runs that cater to all levels, while Wanaka charms with its scenic landscapes and quieter slopes, providing a more laid-back skiing experience.

Explore Milford Sound

Embark on a journey through Milford Sound, where kayaking provides an up-close perspective of majestic waterfalls and towering cliffs. Alternatively, a scenic cruise can offer a more relaxed way to take in the breathtaking views, with opportunities to spot wildlife and learn about the area's natural history from knowledgeable guides.

Milford Sound

Visiting New Zealand in September is a wise choice for those looking to enjoy the natural beauty, cultural richness, and adventurous activities without the peak season crowds. 

With favorable weather and a diverse range of activities, this month offers a perfect balance for a memorable trip. Considering a campervan journey? It’s a fantastic way to experience New Zealand's dynamic landscapes and vibrant culture at your own pace.

Ready to explore New Zealand in a unique and thrilling way this September? Visit Campervan Rentals New Zealand to start planning your dream adventure today!

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New Zealand in September: Weather, Tips & Adventure Sports

Head to Fiordland National Park on your visit to New Zealand in September.

  • ~ mins read

September is the start of spring in New Zealand and a good time to visit this scenic country if you want to make the most out of fewer crowds and pleasant weather. In September, the country sees melting snow, warmer temperatures, and flowers blooming, while the natural beauty of the country remains stunning year-round. From exploring the untouched wilderness of the Fiordland National Park to late-season skiing adventures in Queenstown, you’ll find there are many things to do on your trip to New Zealand in September.

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New Zealand Weather in September

The roads will be wet as the weather in New Zealand in September is rainy.

September is spring, and while not cold, it is a wet month in most areas of the country, so you can likely expect some rain. Rainfall differs by location; for example, the rain in the north tends to slow down in September while the South Island usually becomes wetter throughout the spring season.

In the capital city of Wellington, the average high temperature in September is around 14°C, while the average lows hover around 8°C. Queenstown's average high and low temperatures are 13°C and 2°C, respectively. In the Northland region and Auckland, temperatures range from 17°C to 10°C in September.

For a seasonal overview, check out our article on the best time to visit New Zealand .

Weather in New Zealand in September - Rainfall and Temperatures

Why visit new zealand in september.

September is ski season in New Zealand.

New Zealand is known for its beaches, landscapes, and vibrant culture, all of which you can experience year-round. But here's why you should visit the country in September:

  • Festivities and events: In September, New Zealand hosts the World of Wearable Art festival in Wellington, an internationally recognized design competition that draws thousands of visitors. Another event for those who like to play hard and party hard is Snowboxx , the famous European skiing, raving, and partying festival which has opened a New Zealand chapter in Cordona, one of the country’s most popular ski areas.
  • Adventure sports: The ski season in New Zealand ends in mid-October so it's still a good time to hit the slopes. Also, spring means higher water volume due to the melting snow, which makes rafting in New Zealand on the Kaituna River or Wairoa River a wild activity.
  • Better prices: September is shoulder season, which means that the prices for flights and accommodation are likely to be lower than usual.
  • Lesser crowds: For those who want to avoid the thickest crowds, September is a good time to visit New Zealand. You'll enjoy having most of the countryside and the tourist destinations to yourself.

Where to go and what to do

A humpback whale breaching off the coast in New Zealand

Although winter has ended, you can still go skiing in North Island, because many ski fields near the Tongariro National Park are open throughout September. If you’re going skiing in South Island, it’s best to go in the early days of September because the resorts close by the end of the month. But for some late-season skiing, Queenstown and Wanaka are ideal destinations.

Adventure sports are a huge thing in New Zealand, and if you’re into that, then you should certainly visit Queenstown and Wanaka, the Mecca of adventure sports in New Zealand. Jet boating, bungy jumping, and skiing are among the most enjoyable activities here.

For beachgoers, the Abel Tasman National Park is the go-to place on the South Island since it is famous for its golden sand beaches with forest backdrops. While you’re there, you should also visit the Tonga Island Marine Reserve, a mating ground for humpback whales.

You'll find some of the most beautiful alpine lakes in all of New Zealand in Nelson Lakes National Park. Consider extending your stay in Nelson during your New Zealand trip if you want to experience a diverse range of sights and activities from exploring the wilderness and viewing local art in the city. It is also a great spot to visit or base yourself in September, as it is usually sunny!

A visit to New Zealand in September is as good as an incomplete trip if you don’t get to admire the endemic wildlife. Visiting any of New Zealand’s wildlife sanctuaries would be a rewarding experience, but we highly recommend visiting the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre on North Island or, for a likely drier experience, Otago Peninsula or Banks Peninsula on the South Island.

What to bring

Head to the beaches in New Zealand for some warmth under the sun.

Although September marks the beginning of the spring season in New Zealand, you'll still face cold weather and breezes during the early days of the month, and likely some rain. Therefore, packing waterproof and protective clothing is highly essential.

It's an excellent time to visit New Zealand in September because you get to experience both winter and summer activities while the crowds are lesser. The pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, beautiful landscapes, and lively culture make New Zealand one of the best countries to visit. You can reach out to our travel experts, who can help you choose a perfectly customized trip to New Zealand according to your preferences, time, and budget.

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The best time to go to New Zealand

Oct 3, 2023 • 5 min read

new zealand travel september

Plan the best time of year for your visit to New Zealand with this seasonal guide Michael Hall / Getty Images

Journeying to New Zealand and exploring Aotearoa is a good choice any time of the year – but your experience will vary depending on what season you choose to visit.

During summer, you can enjoy a southern hemisphere adventure by hiking New Zealand 's Great Walks and partying at the year's best music festivals, while the more affordable months of autumn lend themselves to RV vacations. Winter is the time to combine snow sports with urban experiences, while spring marks the arrival of flavor-packed festivals showcasing local beer, wine and seafood.

Here's our guide to the best time to visit New Zealand. 

December to February is the best time for outdoor activities and festivals

Summer in New Zealand means busy beaches , (usually) good weather for hiking (known locally as "tramping") and leisurely cricket matches. On the festival front, highlights include Gisborne ’s Rhythm & Vines and Wanaka ’s Rhythm & Alps , two DJ and dance music multi-day events. In February, Napier is enlivened with a celebration of all things art deco, while Splore attracts Aucklanders for three days of Burning Man-inspired art, music and dance. Eating and drinking exceptionally well is the focus at the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival . Booking ahead for the most popular festivals is vital – both to score event tickets and secure accommodation.

Summer school holidays from mid-December to early February increase accommodation prices for hotels, motels and holiday parks. Try and book ahead, especially across the Christmas and New Year periods, when popular North Island beach resort towns like Tauranga ’s Mt Maunganui and Whitianga are packed with Kiwi families and revelers. Waitangi Day, New Zealand’s national day, is celebrated on February 6.

If you’ve seen New Zealand’s wild lupin flowers flooding your social feeds, December to February is the best time to view these colorful blooms around Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country. Note that some areas of the South Island (especially around Lake Tekapo, where they once flourished on the shore) are attempting to eradicate the spread of the invasive species.

A person in a white costume and mask at the WOMAD

March to May means more festivals and good-value road-tripping

Transitioning from late summer to a southern hemisphere autumn (fall), March to May in New Zealand offers cool but pleasant weather, and a warmish ocean that’s still okay for swimming and watersports – especially at North Island beaches around March and April. 

With often settled and drier weather in most regions, it’s a great time to explore Aotearoa. Due to fewer Kiwis traveling (the exception being around Easter, when kids are out of school for two weeks) visitors can expect better value accommodation and shorter lines at key attractions . There’s also less traffic for road trips from Auckland to the Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula , or for motor home journeys on the most popular routes in the South Island.

Popular March festivals include WOMAD NZ ( New Plymouth ’s annual celebration of global beats and world music) and the quirky Wildfoods Festival . The latter, held in the South Island town of Hokitika, is where you can sample local beer, venison and eel, alongside more challenging dishes such as lamb’s testicles and fried locusts. At Auckland’s Pasifika festival, also in March, vibrant music and dance from Auckland’s Pacific Island communities are paired with food from Samoa, Tonga, Niue and the Cook Islands.

A snowboarder jumping off a cliff on a sunny day

June to August is the best time for city breaks and snow sports

Popular summer destinations such as Golden Bay , the Coromandel Peninsula  and the Bay of Islands will be very quiet during the cooler months of June to August. In these areas, many tourist-oriented businesses close down for the winter. It’s also not the best time to embark on many of the country’s Great Walks, with challenging and often dangerous conditions on alpine and sub-alpine tracks in the South Island and Tongariro National Park. It is, however, usually a good time to experience the Abel Tasman Coast Track . Wrap up warmly for cool mornings, but look forward to blue-sky conditions later in the day.

The snow sports season also kicks off at this time of year, especially around Queenstown and Wanaka in the South Island. Booking ahead for accommodation is recommended, particularly during another set of school holidays in July. Note that skiing in New Zealand is increasingly popular for Australian families, so it’s also worth checking when Australian school holidays fall.

In New Zealand’s cities, shorter days and longer nights mean there is a focus on indoor events. Wellington comes alive in August with the craft beer and culinary combination of Beervana and Wellington on a Plate (WOAP) , while the historic South Island town of Oamaru is enlivened by the quirky Steampunk festival in June. Highlights of winter in Auckland include Elemental , the city’s annual July and August festival focused on arts and culinary events. Restaurant Month in Auckland is a great opportunity for discounted dining at some of the city’s best eateries.

First inaugurated as a national public holiday in 2022, Matariki is a celebration of the Māori New Year. The actual date varies depending on the lunar calendar, but incorporates a Friday holiday weekend around late June or early July. Matariki events and cultural celebrations are becoming increasingly popular throughout New Zealand.

Winter is also one of the best times to experience New Zealand’s Dark Sky Sanctuaries, thanks to clearer skies and longer nights. Popular destinations for stargazing include Aotea/Great Barrier Island off the coast of Auckland, and the South Island’s Mackenzie Country.

The tail fin of a whale raises high above the water near a mountainous coastline

September to November is the best time for hiking and foodie festivals

A spring rain shower is never far away from September to November, so definitely pack a lightweight waterproof jacket. New Zealand’s shoulder season usually offers better accommodation prices, although another two-week burst of school holidays in September can impact demand and pricing for hotels and motels. 

The snowsports season largely concludes around early October, meaning October and November can be a good time to visit Queenstown or Wanaka, especially for mountain biking amid still cooler weather. New Zealand’s Great Walks hiking season also kicks off in late October and runs through until April. Bookings to secure trail access and hut accommodation can be made on the Department of Conservation (DOC)’s website , usually from May. It’s essential to book ahead for popular experiences including the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler Tracks.

Spring festivals include Crayfest Kaikōura , pairing everyone’s favorite crustacean (crayfish) with local wine and craft beer. It’s also a good time to incorporate some whale watching at Kaikōura . Toast Martinborough attracts Wellingtonians across the Remutaka Range for a one-day November pinot noir-fuelled celebration of food, wine and music.

This article was first published Apr 21, 2021 and updated Oct 3, 2023.

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Visiting New Zealand in September

While September in the UK marks the end of the summer sun, the first falling of the leaves and the arrival of the early signs of winter; September in New Zealand indicates the exact opposite! September in New Zealand heralds the end of the winter: the blossom blooms, the wildlife regains its joie-de-vive and flowers return to the landscape, bringing with them the promise of summer. In New Zealand, the season in September is spring. And we love it!

What’s New Zealand Like in September?

Spring has sprung and daylight hours are getting longer (you can expect around 12 hours of daylight in September). But is it cold in New Zealand in September? Well, the New Zealand September weather forecast can be a little changeable. Some days will see temperatures soar up to the low twenties, while others will see the brief return of arctic winds and snowfall on the mountains. Whilst you won’t feel the heat of summer quite yet, I always find spring noticeably warmer. Temperatures in the daytime are mild (late teens) and New Zealand rainfall in September is lower, dropping to about the same as it is in summer.

As usual, temperatures vary between the North and South islands, with the mercury on the cooler South ranging between -3 ° C and 22 ° C, and the North island seeing a slightly warmer 2 ° C – 23 ° C.

When it comes to weather conditions in the cities, contrary to much of the country (and verifiable from personal experience!) Queenstown tends to see more rain in spring than winter, but this is tempered by the average highs climbing up to 13 ° C (from 10 ° C the previous month). Auckland, which sees less fluctuation in temperature, nevertheless warms up a bit, with average highs hitting 16 ° C (up from 15 ° C in August), and the winter rainfall eases up.

We’re often asked whether there is still snow in New Zealand in September, and the answer is yes! As September bridges the gap between winter and the warmer months, you’ll still find snow around in early spring. The snow conditions in New Zealand in September, while certainly not as heavy as in winter, are still pretty good. We’ve always found plenty of skiing and snowboarding available at higher altitudes, although lower-level cross-country skiing becomes harder to find.

What To Do in New Zealand in September

spring flowers at the government gardens, rotorua

It’s not just the flora and fauna that comes to life with the arrival of spring in New Zealand, you’ll find that the range of activities, festivals, events and general life-affirming culture really explodes, leaving you wondering what to do first!

Here’s a selection of some of our favourite things to do in New Zealand in September, following an informal straw poll taken in the office yesterday afternoon:

  • Celebrate the Beginning of Spring at Alexandra Blossom Festival
  • Take in the World of Wearable Art in Wellington
  • Sample Seafood Delights at the Whitianga Scallops Festival or the West Coast Whitebait Season
  • Check out Hastings’ Blossom Parade (we know, two blossom festivals, but there’s a lot of it about at this time of year!)
  • Just get out and about and frolic amongst with the joys of spring!

Alexandra Blossom Festival

Alexandra, on the South Island not far from Queenstown, is a beautiful place renowned for its production of summer fruits and wool. Each September Alexandra holds a festival to celebrate its contribution to these industries, but over the 60 years it’s been held, it has grown into something much more than just plums and pullovers. Today, the Blossom Festival offers music, comedy, car shows, processions, garden tours and even freestyle motocross! Last year over 15,000 folk took part in this festival, and as a visitor myself in the past, I can heartily recommend it as a wonderful way to usher in spring.

World of Wearable Art

world of wearable art UV room

Wellington hosts some of New Zealand’s most exciting and unusual events, and September is no different. The World of Wearable Art (or WOW) is an international design competition, theatrical show and spectacular visual feast of contemporary artistic clothing. A fairy-tale castle worn as a dress, futuristic alien fashion and a zebra amoeba are just a few of our own personal favourites in a basically indescribable collection (check out the website and you’ll get the picture). This show is a truly magical and unique experience and it might just change the way you see clothes forever!

Whitianga Scallops Festival & West Coast Whitebait Season


Photo by  Augustine Fou  on  Unsplash

As a lover of seafood, I’m keenly aware that the freshness and creativity of the cuisine produced by island cultures is always a little bit special. But never was this truer than in Whitianga and on the West Coast. The scallops in Whitianga are simply the best I’ve ever tasted, and the event also features community groups, arts and crafts. It sells out every year, so book early! The West Coast Whitebait Season offers similar culinary delights, with the whitebait (juvenile forms of the Galaxiidae fish family) heading upriver from the beginning of September (you can even try and catch some yourself!) If you’d rather let someone else do the work, cafes and restaurants begin offering their delicious whitebait dishes at this time of year – definitely not to be missed!

  Hastings Blossom Parade

Since 1950, the arrival of September has been observed in Hastings with their Blossom Parade when the place jumps into a celebration of springtime with floats rolling out through the streets, markets and performances throughout the day. It may not be as famous as some of the other activities on our list, but here at Silver Fern, we love this little festival and some of us have spent many a September day partying amongst the Hastings blossom.

Just Get Out and About!

Huka falls, taupo, New Zealand

Photo by  Antony PANG  on  Unsplash

Getting out and about in New Zealand in September is a great idea. The ski fields are still open (good weather AND good slopes?!), the snow melts mean the rivers are full and perfect for white water rafting and boat rides. And then there’s the wildlife! Birds and marine mammals are at their most active in spring, so we say why not just get out there and watch the display?

What To Pack for New Zealand in September

Knowing what to pack for New Zealand in September can be a little tricky, as the transition from winter to spring can present us with four seasons in a single day! However, things are warming up, so I tend to pack slightly in favour of the warmer weather, with a few emergency woollies to fend of the odd arctic wind. Here’s my suggestion of what not to forget when you’re packing for New Zealand in September (beyond the usual staples like underwear, socks and sunnies):

  • A rain jacket. Always a rain jacket. And preferably one with wind protection.
  • A fleece for general cosiness
  • Cardigans or tank tops make great multi-season solutions
  • A couple of long sleeve tops (make one a smart shirt or blouse for nights out)
  • Lightweight scarf, hat and gloves
  • Comfortable walking boots (plus one pair of smarter shoes)
  • Swimming suit and travel towel
  • Quick-dry trousers (loved these!)

Do remember though, that New Zealand is set up for both rural and urban environments, as it is the perfect mix of both (and oh, we love it so!), which means you’ll be able to find extra layers, adventure gear, glam urban wear, hiking and camping equipment galore while you’re out there. And it’s probably cheaper than you can get it at home!

September is a wonderful time to visit New Zealand. Blossom abounds, flowers bloom and the country livens up. Plus you still get the best of the winter activities in a much more hospitable climate. We love it, and we’d love to tell you more about our experiences there at this time, so don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you’d like to discuss your very own trip to New Zealand as spring bursts into life.

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New Zealand climate and weather

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Whatever the season, it’s always a good time to visit New Zealand as there’s so much to see and do year-round.

Seasons in New Zealand  

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, family fun , rest and relaxation, food and wine, cultural experiences or a bit of everything, New Zealand has something to suit, no matter when you visit.  

New Zealand’s busy ‘high season' is summer, while the quieter ‘shoulder seasons’ are spring and autumn. Winter in New Zealand can be busy or quiet depending on where you go – ski areas like Queenstown and Wanaka in the South Island and the Central Plateau in the North Island are always buzzing in the depths of winter, whereas coastal areas and big cities like Auckland and Wellington are less crowded. Travelling in the shoulder seasons can be a good idea as you’ll often find more availability and better rates on accommodation and activities.  

Summer (December-February)

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

By Bush and Beach

This is the most popular time to visit New Zealand for sunny beach days , adventures on the water , beautiful bush walks and mountain hiking . Visitor numbers are high and summer holidays mean more Kiwis are travelling around New Zealand too, making the most of the sunshine and Christmas break.    

Autumn (March-May)  

Clutha Gold Trail - Autumn

Clutha Gold Trail - Autumn, Clutha

By shebikeshebikes

If you would like sunshine but fewer crowds, then autumn is a fantastic time to visit New Zealand . T he days are still quite warm early in the season ( that means beach swims through March and well into April in some parts of the country ) with cooler evenings, and t here is beautiful scenery as the autumn colours spread through the countryside. Bush walks and hiking are great options now as the days are not as hot.  

Winter (June-August)    

Playing in the snow at Ruapehu

Playing in the snow at Ruapehu, Ruapehu

By Visit Ruapehu

Winter in New Zealand is the best time to visit if you’re into snow sports. Queenstown and Wanaka in the South Island and the Central Plateau in the North Island are the most popular spots for skiing and snowboarding. While many ski fields open in June, the highest snowfall is usually throughout July and August. If you’re planning on driving in areas of New Zealand that are prone to snow, you’ll need to carry chains and take extra care on the roads.

Spring (September-November)    

Hagley Park

Hagley Park, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Julian Apse

Spring in New Zealand is when the weather starts to warm up, although there is a high chance of rainfall around this time of year . It’s the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking , and there is often spring skiing available at some ski fields too. You’ll find New Zealand’s countryside full of bouncing lambs and spring blossoms, so it makes for great photos! Warm days and cool nights are common .   

December - February Average daytime temperature: 20 - 25˚C (68 - 77˚F)

March - May Average daytime temperature: 17 - 21˚C (62 - 70˚F)

June - August Average daytime temperature: 12 - 16˚C (53 - 61˚F)

September - November Average daytime temperature: 16 - 19˚C (61 - 66˚F)

Regional Temperatures

Weather in new zealand.

Temperatures in New Zealand are generally mild, but the weather can vary a lot around the country and might change quickly as we are a relatively narrow island nation . Locals like to joke that you can experience four seasons in one day! It pays to be prepared for what you might encounter on your travels.  

New Zealand’s climate is diverse – the north of the North Island can have warm subtropical weather in summer, while inland alpine areas of the South Island can have heavy snow and temperatures as low as -10°C (14°F) in winter.   

The hottest months in New Zealand are January and February, and the coldest month of the year is July. The average temperature in New Zealand decreases as you travel south.    

Rain, snow and sun  

New Zealand is lush and green for a reason! Our average rainfall is high and spread evenly throughout the year. Whatever time of year you are visiting, pack a raincoat as you never know when you might get showers.   

Snow typically falls during the months of June through to October, though cold snaps can occur outside of this. Most snow in New Zealand falls in the mountainous areas, like the Central Plateau in the North Island, and the Southern Alps in the South Island. It also falls heavily in inland Canterbury and Otago in the South Island. It very rarely snows in the coastal areas of the North Island, although they experience some heavy overnight frosts in winter.   

The sunniest places in New Zealand (recorded hours of sunshine) are the Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay and Nelson/Marlborough. As New Zealand observes Daylight Saving, daylight can last up until 9.30pm during summer months.   

Be SunSmart  

The sun in New Zealand is much stronger than elsewhere and in warmer months you can get burnt quickly without sunscreen or other sun protection. This is because we have relatively little air pollution compared with many other countries, and less ozone, which makes the UV rays in our sunlight very strong.   

Take particular care from September to April, especially between 10am and 4pm, even on cloudy days. Be 'SunSmart' by using these three simple steps when you go outdoors:  

  • Stay in the shade whenever possible.
  • Wear a shirt, hat and sunglasses.
  • Use SPF 30+ sunscreen. Reapply every two hours and after swimming.

You can check New Zealand weather conditions on the  MetService website. (opens in new window)  

Select a region below for current local weather

Local weather.

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New Zealand Travel Insider

New Zealand in September

Find out whether September is a good month to visit New Zealand, what to do, where to go, and what New Zealand’s weather is like in September.

September marks the beginning of spring in New Zealand.

The school holidays start toward the end of September, so places like parks and recreational areas tend to get busy with people who have children.

But all in all, September is not a very busy month to visit New Zealand .

September is also the month to see spring blossoms in New Zealand , although flowers start to already come out in August , which technically speaking is still winter in New Zealand .

Things to do in September in New Zealand

Because September marks the arrival of spring , a good activity to do would be walking and visiting gardens and parks to see flowers.

And because ski fields are still open in September, you can also visit New Zealand for winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding .

Low-elevation activities such as cross-country skiing may not be possible in September, since there might not be enough snow on the ground – generally only high on the mountains.

For example, Snow Farm, a popular cross-country skiing area near Cardrona on the South Island of New Zealand, closed on September 19 in 2015.

But closing dates of ski fields vary every year, because they are very dependent on the weather and the amount of snowfall.

Cherry blossoms in Christchurch in September on the South Island of New Zealand

Cherry blossoms in Christchurch in September

Because September is the first month after winter, the demand for activities you would do in summer is low and business is slow for tour operators, so do not expect everywhere to be open for business.

However, you can always look for and find similar activities you would otherwise do in summer , ranging from mountain biking and climbing to sailing and kayaking . The water might be a bit too cold to go for a swim, though.

Places to visit in September in New Zealand

Because September is a month to see flowers, you can head to places that display spring blossoms or spring flowers. Gardens are your best bet for this.

I highly recommend taking a stroll in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park or visiting the Wellington Botanic Garden toward the end of September to see the impressive and colorful floral displays when the Wellington Spring Festival is taking place.

There are also several other places with spring blossoms on the South Island that you can visit.

For skiing you can head to the usual ski fields on the North Island or ski fields on the South Island , although ski fields in Central North Island – generally Whakapapa – are typically the last ski fields to close for the snow season.

Just check the snow conditions in New Zealand before you come over.

Other than that, September is still a good month to see snow on the mountains , so you could also go scenic driving on the South Island .

New Zealand weather in September

September brings a variety of weather. There are days when the temperature shoots up in the high teens or low twenties with the sun feeling nice and warm.

There are also days when polar air hits New Zealand, snow falls on the mountain tops, and it feels like winter all over again.

Because September lies on the border of two seasons, the weather tends to need to adjust itself for warmer things to come, which is why you get a bit of everything, ranging from sun to hail.

Temperatures in September tend to fluctuate between 2 and 23 degrees Celsius (36 – 73 degrees Fahrenheit) on the North Island of New Zealand .

Temperatures on the South Island tend to fluctuate between -3 and 22 degrees Celsius (27 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit). The lower temperatures generally take place a night.

Generally, you can feel the difference in temperature when going from August to September. Daytime temperatures tend to be mild in the mid to high teens.

[Photo: Floral dislays in Wellington in September (59 KB)]

September is not an extremely rainy month . Some places get less rain in September than in October or November . Other places receive a similar amount of rain in September and October.

But apart from a few exceptions, the amount of rainfall in September is close to the amount you would get in summer.

However, less rain tends to fall in September than in winter in New Zealand, except for a place like Queenstown , which tends to get more rain in spring than in winter.

Coming out of winter, the days continue to get longer in September.

The sun rises between 6:45 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. at the beginning of September and between 6:55 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. at the end of September. The sun sets between 5:55 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. at the beginning of September and between 7:25 p.m. and 7:50 p.m. at the end of September.

So you have approximately 11 to 12.5 hours of daylight in September.

The times mentioned above are for Wellington and Queenstown and may vary depending your location in New Zealand.

This article falls under Travel Guide .

Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

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The best time to visit New Zealand is during the summer months of December to March. Expect long, bright, sunny days and temperatures between 61°F and 75°F. It’s an ideal time to visit the lovely beaches or enjoy the many outdoor activities available, such as hiking and mountain biking.

However, New Zealand’s rugged beauty and varied landscapes make it a spectacular destination to visit at any time of year. Just be prepared for a fair sprinkling of rain whenever you decide to visit.

Snow often arrives in the South Island between June and September, as well as in some of the North Island’s more mountainous areas, attracting skiers from far and wide.

The spring and fall months herald milder weather and fewer visitors, but this is still a very pleasant time to visit. Temperatures normally sit in the fifties and sixties.

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Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand in January - February

The warm sunny days of summer make this an ideal time to visit, particularly for snorkeling or outdoor pursuits, but it can be harder to find accommodation. School vacations run into the first two weeks of January, while tourists arrive in large numbers to make the most of the warm climate until the end of February. It's also a great time to spot dolphins and fur seals off the coast of the South Island.

Events & Festivals

  • Marlborough Food and Wine Festival (February): This is New Zealand's longest running wine festival, right in the heart of the world-famous wine producing region.
  • Rugby Sevens (January to February): Thousands flock to watch the country's favorite sporting event in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington.
  • Wellington Fringe Festival (February to March): This lively festival brings masses of entertainment in the form of music, comedy and theater to venues across Wellington.

Picton & The Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand in March - May

The arrival of fall brings cooler days and quieter roads. While the weather will be more changeable, there is still a fantastic array of wildlife to be seen and the changing colors of the leaves add a new dynamic. If you are happy with cooler weather then this is a great time to make the most of lower prices and fewer crowds.

  • Bluff Oyster Festival (May): This festival celebrates the season's oyster harvest with music, food and wine.
  • Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow (every other year over Easter weekend): This thrilling air show brings historic aircraft and modern fighter jets to the skies in the South Island.

Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast

Visiting New Zealand in June - July

Winter in New Zealand can be both beautiful and challenging. While the North Island  sees much rain, snow in the South Island  can make mountain passes more difficult and many excursions cease to operate. It is, however, a spectacular draw for skiers and a fantastic time to see the country away from the crowds that the summer brings.

Whale from the air, Kaikoura

Visiting New Zealand in August

As winter continues, areas in the North Island such as Rotorua and the Bay of Islands remain relatively popular as they benefit from milder weather than the south. The South Island holds its own charms, though, as humpback whales pass by Kaikoura on their way north to warmer waters.

Glenorchy, New Zealand

Visiting New Zealand in September - October

Temperatures begin to rise and snow on the mountains starts melting, making this a fantastic time for white-water rafting as the rivers are full and fast. The weather is changeable, but as most tourists are yet to arrive the roads are quiet and accommodation is easier to secure. September is also a brilliant time to see newborn lambs gamboling in the fields and orcas gracing the coastline with their presence.

The Coromandel Peninsula

Visiting New Zealand in November - December

The warmer weather isn't the only draw of the start to New Zealand's summer; stunning wild gorse and vibrantly colored lupins spread across the country, making it one of the most impressive times to visit. As peak season begins, prepare for busier attractions and book early to secure accommodation in the more remote areas.

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  • North Island New Zealand Weather in September

Geothermal Rotorua

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September marks the transition from winter into spring in New Zealand, and this is clearly felt through changes in weather across the North Island. In the subtropical northern regions, the tail-end of the rainy season is still felt earlier in the month, as is peak ski season in the central plateau and subalpine regions.

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Average Temperatures in the North Island in September

Average sunshine hours per day in the north island in september, average rainfall in the north island in september.

  • Best Things to do in the North Island in September 

Combined with ever-lengthening daylight and sunshine hours and the fact that accommodation rates are still in a shoulder season - as opposed to high season,  September is a great time to book a North Island self-drive tour or package holiday , wherever you plan on visiting!

With the ski season in full swing in some areas, and the pending arrival of spring evident in others, the average temperatures to expect for the North Island in September depend a lot on where you want to go, and when you plan on being there. 

Here’s a more detailed look around the cities and regions:

Taranaki Garden Festival

September bridges the gap between dark winter days and the ever-approaching arrival of spring and long summer days. By the end of the month, there are nearly 12 hours of daylight and over 6 hours of sunshine per day in certain parts of the North Island (such as Napier). Elsewhere, the lingering rain clouds (Auckland) or snow (Taupo) can limit the average sunshine hours per day to below 5. 

Overall, though, there are plenty of pockets of sunshine throughout the month.

September is still a wet month in the far north of the North Island, where the winter rainy season is winding down, and the average number of wet days is over 12. Elsewhere, though, such as sunny Napier, September is already relatively dry, with barely 7 wet days for the month on average.  

Best Things to do in the North Island in September  

Taste new zealand’s best seafood at the whitianga oceans festival.

New Zealand is surrounded by ocean, and unsurprisingly seafood is an important part of food and local cultures. There are few better places to celebrate that than in Whitianga, on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, for a day showcasing the range and diversity of New Zealand seafood. Formerly known for its associations with a damaging and destructive scallop industry, this Whitianga festival has revitalised itself as a leading light for how to both enjoy and protect New Zealand’s oceans. Most importantly though – it’s a fun time showcasing delicious dishes, live music, cooking classes, and a chance to get involved with local community groups.

See the return of the world’s biggest gannet colony

For any visiting bird- and nature-lovers in New Zealand, Hawke’s Bay is home to a phenomenon that shouldn’t be missed this time of year. Just half an hour from Napier, Cape Kidnappers is home to the world’s largest mainland gannet colony. Every September, adult birds finish their annual vagabonding and return to Cape Kidnappers in huge numbers to prepare their nests for the upcoming breeding season. If you’re lucky, you may also spot some migrating penguins and whales at this time, too!

Gannet Colony at Cape Kidnappers

Ski on ancient lava flows at New Zealand’s biggest ski area

The North Island New Zealand ski season is in full flow during September, when locals and international visitors alike flock to the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu, a short drive south of Taupo in the heart of Tongariro National Park in the central North Island. New Zealand’s two largest commercial ski areas are found here, Turoa and Whakapapa, and between them there’s no end of extensive runs ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert levels. The region’s volcanic heritage and ancient lava flows create natural half-pipes and terrain to challenge even the most accomplished of skiers, while beginners and intermediates will find a wide range of runs to suit them, along with first-rate facilities and plenty of stunning views of the surrounding volcanic landscapes.

How to make your North Island holiday happen

Like the sound of a North Island holiday in September? Take a look at the different North Island tour packages and self-drive itinerary options provided by First Light Travel . 

Contact FLT’s travel advisers directly, online, to customise your own version. If you still have questions, the many articles on FLT’s dedicated New Zealand travel blog could help to answer them.

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new zealand travel september

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A girl's adventure in food and travel around the world, new zealand south island itinerary: 10-day road trip guide.

So, you’re planning to visit New Zealand ? Lucky you, because you’re about to experience one of the world’s most beautiful places.

In this post, I’ll be taking you through my New Zealand South Island itinerary, which shows off some of the best sights New Zealand has to offer.

New Zealand South Island had long been on my to-visit list, but New Zealand is located out of the way from most places. It requires proper planning and setting aside precious vacation days, and I just kept getting distracted by other destinations to ever consider visiting New Zealand properly. So when an opportunity came up to check out the country, you bet I jumped on it! In total spent 2 weeks in New Zealand.

10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Anyway, enough fluff. let’s talk more about the big New Zealand trip!

New Zealand South Island Overview

How long should i set aside for the south island in new zealand, when is the best time to visit the south island, new zealand south island travel tips, packing list for hiking in new zealand, weather in the south island of new zealand, accommodations in the south island, the 10-day new zealand south island itinerary.

  • Example Cost Breakdown of 10 days in New Zealand

New Zealand is made up of about 600 islands, but there are only two major islands: North Island and South Island. The majority of beautiful New Zealand landscapes and photos you see in travel magazines are located on the South Island.

And I swear, there are a lot of things to see here . 10 days was barely enough to scratch the surface of South Island. This is because every point of interest is so spread apart with a lot of ground to cover. After all, at around 150,000km², it’s not exactly a tiny island.

Despite this, I was surprised to learn that there are fewer people in the entirety of the South Island than there are people living in Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand on the North Island.

So to put things into perspective for myself, I looked up the comparison of South Island to Singapore (where I live) in terms of population density. It turns out that there are nearly 6x more people on the tiny island of Singapore than on the South Island, even though the size of Singapore is only 0.5% the size of the South Island.

Crazy stuff, hey? Either Singapore is way too tiny or New Zealand is just that sparsely populated (I think it’s both).

OK, now that I’m done feeling small about my home country – back to the travel tips.

You’ll need at least 10 days to properly see the South Island, and that’s why this blog post has been written as a 10-day itinerary.

However, there is so much to see on the South Island that you can stay here as long as you have the time for. If time is not a constraint, I would stay at least 14 days so I have more time for all the hikes I didn’t get to do.

Remember that New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere, so its seasons are the opposite of what one might believe are the conventional seasons.

Here are the seasons in New Zealand:

With this in mind, I think the best time to visit the South Island is at the tail end of Spring and towards Summer, in November or December . Summer is a very popular time to go to New Zealand due to all the natural activities that can be done in the Summer.

That said, we went at the tail end of Winter in September, and we still had a great time. It’s a different kind of beauty to see the beautiful landscape in crisp winter air.

I find that New Zealand is very similar to Australia , so a lot of the tips below are going to overlap with my previous posts:

1. Renting a car – You MUST rent a car when visiting the South Island in New Zealand. Driving is pretty much a requirement to see most of the South Island, especially if you want to do it in 10 days. One way to further optimize this is to arrange to pick up the car straight from the airport you’re flying into, then arrange to drop it off from the other airport you will be flying out of. This saves you tons of time! For example, we picked up our car at Queenstown Airport but will be dropping it off at Christchurch Airport. Which, brings me to my next point…

2. Open-jaw your flight ticket – We have a lot of ground to cover in the South Island, so we decided to open-jaw our trip for the sake of time optimization – we flew into Queenstown and flew out of Christchurch. That way, we won’t have to drive back to Queenstown at the end of the trip. I highly recommend doing this too if you are pressed for time! You can do this in reverse too, of course. Meaning, that you can choose to fly to Christchurch and fly out of Queenstown, it makes no difference!

3. Driver’s License – Make sure you have your valid Driver’s License with you. If your license is not in English, you’ll need to have it translated by an authorized department or have an International Driver’s License with at least a month’s validity left.

4. Speed Limit – Like Australia, the New Zealand traffic police are strict on speed limits! We got pulled over once for driving a little over the limit at Fiordland National Park , but they let us off with a warning.

5. Fill up the fuel tank before returning your rental car – or it’s going to cost you later. The rental car will fill it up for you and charge you a premium for it!

6. Get a local SIM Card for data – you can pre-purchase a SIM card here and pick it up once you’re in NZ. 4G connection is widely available in most of the towns I went to. You do lose connection when you’re out in remote areas, but the cities remain well connected.

7. Things are closed early – In smaller towns, most amenities are closed by 6 pm. Yes, even grocery stores, so plan if you need to replenish resources. In bigger cities like Auckland, Christchurch, and Queenstown you might still have a chance to shop a bit later than 6 pm.

8. The sun was super strong in NZ  – always wear sunscreen and layer up with extra light clothing and a hat to shield yourself, even when you plan to be in the car all day.

9. Download Google Maps offline – I downloaded offline maps on my Google Maps app just in case we go off the grid. I experienced low connectivity when deep inside the National Parks, and having the map offline was massively helpful.

10. Check road conditions – If you are visiting during Winter or the beginning of Spring, make sure you check road conditions ahead of time. A change of weather might render certain routes impassable – for example, a few days after we left, the South Island was hit with a huge snowstorm which knocked over some trees, and the road to Glenorchy was cut off from Queenstown for some time.

11. Take the DOC’s grading of hiking tracks with a grain of salt – Even if it says “easy” it might not be a walk in the park either (see my Ben Lomond summit blog for example). I feel like the DOC – short for Department of Conservation, the Nature Park Service of New Zealand – is catering to a very fit audience.

12. Apply for NZ ETA – Make sure to check if you need to apply for NZ ETA before arriving in New Zealand. NZ ETA is the travel authorization needed for those who hold passports with visa waiver for visiting New Zealand. You can apply for NZ ETA here .

The main reason why many people come to visit New Zealand is to enjoy the beautiful nature. And you can only get the most of that by hiking! If you are planning to hike, here are some things that might come in handy:

  • As with any trip, bring a Portable Charger . My favorite charger is the Xiaomi 10,000 mAh. This stuff is super powerful. It can charge an iPhone 7/8+ twice.
  • Bring a good yet light  windbreaker . It gets very windy and cold on some days. I used Uniqlo Blocktech Parka which was sufficient.
  • Sunscreen – can’t stress this enough! Protect your skin!
  • Sunglasses – for the same reason as above. Also, if you plan to go somewhere with snow on a sunny day, it will protect you against snow blindness . Something I only learned during the hike to Ben Lomond .
  • Snow gloves – if you visit at the tail end of Winter or the beginning of Spring, there might still be some snow in the mountainous area. So you’ll want something waterproof and insulated to crawl on snow if necessary. This was yet another thing I learned during the hike to Ben Lomond .
  • Hiking shoes – yes you need to wear proper hiking shoes with enough treads! My hiking boots are Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II in Mud/Sanguine which served me really well during this trip and many other hiking trips. I wanted a pop of color so I changed the laces to the  3M Rope Laces in Red  from Slickies.

I was in New Zealand in the first two weeks of September (September 1 to 17) and the weather gets very cold once you hit South Island.

On average, the daily temperatures were 9-12 C but some nights could go below 0 C. There was even a snowstorm that hit Queenstown and Wanaka (thankfully a few days after we left) even though it was already mid-September.

The temperature day-to-day varies greatly. One day it would be sunny and warm with blue skies, the next day it would be rainy and cold. Make sure to plan if you’re planning to do a long hike!

Since we were a group of 5 people, we booked 3 bedroom houses with a full kitchen and amenities, and they ended up costing us about $30-40 / night per person through Airbnb.

Of course, if you are traveling in a smaller group, it will cost more. If I was traveling by myself I would look at backpacker hostels instead.

The area you’d want to visit in South Island falls under  Te Wahipounamu , which is Maori for “the greenstone waters”. It’s the South West New Zealand World Heritage, which in turn is internationally recognized by UNESCO World Heritage. This list encompasses Fiordland, Mount Aspiring, Mount Cook, and Westland Tai Poutini.

If you are only in South Island for 10 days, you can probably only cover 3 out of 4 unless you really pack in the days.

Here’s our 10-Day New Zealand South Island Itinerary:

  • Day 1-3: Get to Queenstown and Fiordland National Park
  • Day 4-5: Queenstown and surrounding areas
  • Day 6-7: Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National park
  • Day 8-9: Aoraki / Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo
  • Day 10: Drive to Christchurch and Fly out
  • Cost Breakdown of the trip

You can check the map below to visualize my itinerary. I’ve also marked up things to see and restaurants to eat at.

Map of New Zealand Itinerary

🗺 Save this map to your phone!  If you are a Google user, click on the image of the map above. The map will then be saved to your “Recent” maps viewed.  Click here for instructions on how to view the map later . It will work from your phone too.

Alright, now let’s cover the details of the 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary:

Day 1-3: Get to Queenstown and explore Fiordland National Park (Stay overnight at Te Anau)

As mentioned before, we decided to open-jaw our flight tickets. Meaning that we would fly to Queenstown first and then fly out of Christchurch at the end of our trip. We do this to save time since there is a lot to see and do on the South Island!

Our first stop, Queenstown , is the most beautiful town I’ve ever flown into. We flew to Queenstown from Auckland, and I paid an extra $5 to get a window seat since I had a feeling the view would be epic. And I was right!

10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

I was lucky enough to have picked the side of the plane that’s facing West , which is where all the scenic Southern Alps are. I highly recommend sitting on this side if you ever fly in or out of Queenstown. The last hour of the flight before descending to Queenstown was just pure scenic – worth the measly $5 I paid to sit in a window seat.

As soon as we landed in Queenstown, we picked up our rental car and drove down to Te Anau , which took 2.5 hours. Te Anau is the closest civilization to Fiordland National Park, and where most people would stay overnight.

Once we got to Te Anau, there wasn’t much else we could do since it was already late. So we settled in our Airbnb and watched the sunset from Lake Te Anau, which was very picturesque that night.

10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

The next day, we drove up to Fiordland National Park . This national park is located in the southwest of the South Island and houses some of the most famous sights of New Zealand. Fiordland National Park is part of Te Wahipounamu  and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What to do at Fiordland National Park:

1. Lake Marian Hike – My favorite hike in the Fiordland. It was a sufficiently challenging yet short hike, and the reward at the end of it was a beautiful alpine lake. What more could you ask for?

Dive Deeper: I wrote a separate post about our experience hiking to Lake Marian . You can read the post for more information!

Lake Marian - 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

2. Gertrude Saddle – This track is highly technical. It is described as an expert and unmarked track. However, I’ve heard the reward at the end is massive – you get to overlook Milford Sound from the top of the saddle. We went at the tail end of winter, and unless you have experience with ice climbing and the right equipment, I don’t recommend going up to the summit. So we just stayed around in the valley which was still quite scenic.

Gertrude Saddle - 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

3. Key Summit Track – This is another popular track, though we did not have a chance to visit. I think the Key Summit track would be an excellent choice for a day hike – it’s a 3 hours return journey.

4. Milford Sound – Probably the most famous attraction in the park! I’ve got to be honest, I found it a little underwhelming and very touristy compared to everything else we saw, but it’s still a must-visit.

Our Itinerary at Fiordland National Park

  • Day 1/10: Get to Queenstown and drive to Te Anau
  • Day 2/10: Milford Sounds and Gertrude Saddle at Fiordland National Park (or Key Summit Track)
  • Day 3/10: Lake Marian Hike at Fiordland National Park

In retrospect, I think I would have swapped Day 2 with the Key Summit track since we love hiking. I personally felt Milford Sound was a little underwhelming even though it’s a popular site.

Where to stay in Te Anau

Airbnb – We stayed at an Airbnb in Te Anau, however it is no longer listed. At that time, it was a brand new 3-bedroom house with very modern amenities. Very close (1-2 minute walk) to the lake.

Budget Options – If you are looking for budget accommodation, I recommend the following hostels:

  • YHA Te Anau
  • Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers
  • Barnyard Backpackers – this one is out of the Te Anau, but closer to Fiordland National Park than Te Anau

Day 4-5: Queenstown

Queenstown is the most beautiful town I’ve ever visited. Everywhere you look, you are greeted with a beautiful view of the dramatic Southern Alps mountain range over Lake Wakatipu.

I know we aren’t supposed to play favorites, but Queenstown was my favorite stop in this itinerary. Could you blame me though, when the beautiful lake and snow-capped mountains can be seen right outside the windows of our Airbnb? I did not want to leave!

View of Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown - 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

What to do at Queenstown

1. Hiking to the summit of Ben Lomond – My most memorable moment in Queenstown is hiking to the summit of Ben Lomond. The track is NOT an easy hike despite being graded as “Easy” by the DOC, but it’s worth it.

Dive Deeper: I wrote a very detailed post about hiking up Ben Lomond. More info on hiking Ben Lomond in this blog post!

View from Ben Lomond Hike

2. Take a short drive to Glenorchy , a cute little town just north of Queenstown. There are a few cool tracks you can do (Lake Sylvan track for example) near Glenorchy. Otherwise, the drive up from Queenstown to Glenorchy was just beautiful. This trip is doable on your own, or you can opt to take this Glenorchy Tour which will also show you the shooting locations of a famous movie *cough cough* Lord of the Rings.

Glenorchy - 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

3. Do Adventure Sports – Queenstown is known for high-adrenaline sports activities. So if you’re up for it, here are some activities you can do. I suggest you pick one:

  • Skydiving in Queenstown – New Zealand is known as one of the best skydiving spots in the world. If you want to skydive in New Zealand, Queenstown is THE place to do it!
  • Kawarau Bridge Bungee Jump – If Skydiving is not your thing, then perhaps you can try the bungee jump instead! It’s a 43m jump over the Kawarau River.
  • The Nevis Swing – The swing is also a great option for that adrenaline rush, you’ll be swinging across a canyon 160m over the Nevis River.
  • Shotover Jet – If you prefer to do water sports instead but still want the excitement, then you might be interested in this 30-minute jet boat ride on the Shotover River.
  • Skyline Gondola (with optional Luge Ride) – You can take this gondola to see Queenstown from above, or as a shortcut to the Ben Lomond summit. I highly recommend reading my blog on Ben Lomond first if you are thinking of hiking up. It may not be as easy as you expected.
  • If you decided to take the Gondola, then you might be interested in The Ledge Swing as well. It will send you 400m flying over Queenstown!

Our Itinerary at Queenstown

  • Day 4/10: Drive to Queenstown from Te Anau (2.5 Hours) in the morning, visit Glenorchy, or do one of the activities I mentioned above!
  • Day 5/10: Hike up to Ben Lomond in Queenstown (approx 6-8 hours)

Where to stay in Queenstown

We stayed at an Airbnb in Queenstown – (update: Unfortunately this Airbnb is no longer available for booking, but I’ll list some similar options below) It is just an average 3-bedroom apartment, but that view was the best out of all the accommodations we had. Check this out:

View from Airbnb in Queenstown at South Island, New Zealand - 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

Hotels – As mentioned above, the Airbnb I booked is no longer active but here are some similar options in the same area. You’d want to stay near Frankton Road for the view I posted above ( click here for the general area ).

These accommodations are 5-10 minutes’ drive to town so I would only recommend it if you are driving.

  • Panorama House
  • Mountain & Lake Views Holiday Home
  • Highview Terrace

Budget Options – If you are looking for budget options, you can look at the following hostels. It might not have a spectacular view like the one I posted, but it will be right in the middle of town and close to amenities.

  • Absoloot Value Accommodation Hostel
  • JUCY Snooze Queenstown
  • The Flaming Kiwi Backpackers
  • Base Queenstown
  • Nomads Queenstown Backpackers
  • YHA Queenstown Central
  • YHA Queenstown Lakefront

PS: YHA, Base, and Nomads are all well-known chains for backpacker hostels across Australia and NZ, while Absoloot and JUCY are local NZ businesses.

Day 6-7: Mount Aspiring National Park (Stay overnight at Wanaka)

Mount Aspiring National Park is part of the Southern Alps that I saw on my flight down to Queenstown. Like Fiordland, Mount Aspiring National Park is also part of Te Wahipounamu  and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What to do at Mount Aspiring and Wanaka:

1. Rob Roy Glacier Track – A beautiful AND easy hike just an hour away from Wanaka. Part of the road leading to the start of the track is private farmland, so if you’re a city girl like me this would be a very amusing drive.

Dive Deeper: You can read all about my experience on the Rob Roy Glacier track here . Hint: So many cows. So many sheep. So much everything.

West Matukituki River - 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

2. Roys Peak – Probably the most Instagrammed hike in New Zealand. It’s very popular so you’d be hiking with a lot of people. The hike is also very dull since it just zigzags up the hill, but I heard the view above is worth it! You just probably have to queue for it since this is such a popular hike. We chose not to do this since we had just hiked up Ben Lomond a few days prior.

3. Isthmus Peak – similar to Roy’s Peak, but lesser known. You can try this hike if you don’t feel like dealing with the crowd at Roy’s Peak.

4. Lake Wanaka and That Wanaka Tree – This lake is right in the middle of Wanaka town so you have no excuse not to check it out! There is also a pretty cool tree that is partly inside the lake and is a popular subject for photography.

5. Skydive Wanaka – If you missed out on skydiving in Queenstown, you can still do it here in Wanaka. You’ll see the Mount Aspiring range from the sky.

Our Itinerary at Wanaka

  • Day 6/10: Drive to Wanaka (1 Hour) in the morning, visit Lake Wanaka, and see That Wanaka Tree
  • Day 7/10: Rob Roy Glacier Track at Mount Aspiring, followed by Skydiving

Where to stay in Wanaka

  • The White Room – This is a studio apartment that can accommodate up to 4 people.

Budget Options – If you are looking for budget options in the town, you can take a look at the following hostel:

  • Holly’s Backpacker
  • Base Wanaka

PS: YHA and Base are well-known chains for backpacker hostels across Australia and NZ

Day 8-9: Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park (Stay overnight at Twizel)

This area had been long known to Maori as Aoraki, which means “Cloud Piercer”. It was then renamed Mount Cook after James Cook in 1851, but the name Aoraki was reincorporated back in 1998 out of respect for Maori history.

And yep, you guessed it. Like the other two national parks I’ve mentioned above, Aoraki is also part of Te Wahipounamu  and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What to do at Aoraki / Mount Cook:

1. Hooker Valley Track – This is a very easy and very scenic 10km return route. The track is mostly flat and can be done by children and adults alike. I saw many families picnic-ing on the trail. The trail ends at Hooker Lake, with a great view of the famous Mount Cook.

Dive Deeper: You can read about my Hooker Valley Track experience here .

First Suspension Bridge  at Hooker Valley - 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

2. Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier – another easy track, shorter than Hooker Valley that ends up with a glacier view.

3. Lake Pukaki – This is the lesser-known twin of Lake Tekapo. I preferred Lake Pukaki better than Tekapo because it’s quieter! If you are here in the Spring, it’s also known for the Lupin flowers.

4. Lake Tekapo – probably the most famous Alpine lake in New Zealand. Unlike Lake Pukaki, you can find restaurants and a tourist center at the base of the lake closest to the main road.

5. Church of Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo – Lake Tekapo is also where the famous church is located. This tiny yet picturesque stone church is an iconic landmark of Lake Tekapo and has been a popular subject of night photography. Don’t expect to be the only photographer here!

Recommended itinerary at Aoraki / Mount Cook

  • Day 8/10: Drive to Twizel (1 Hour) in the morning, visit Hooker Valley Track at Aoraki and Lake Pukaki along the way
  • Day 9/10: Visit the Lake Tekapo area and the Church of Good Shepherd

Where to stay in Twizel / Aoraki

  • Our Airbnb in Twizel – A cozy little 3-bedroom house. It is very convenient as a base for Aoraki and Lake Tekapo.

Other economic options you can consider:

  • YHA Aoraki / Mt Cook – This one is not in Twizel, it’s located in Mount Cook village which is right where the Hooker Valley Track is. It’s a bit more on the pricier side even though it’s a backpacker hostel, but you cannot beat this location.
  • High Country Lodge and Backpacker
  • Lake Ruataniwha Holiday Park
  • Lakefront Lodge Backpackers – This one is by Lake Tekapo, also a bit pricy for a backpacker hostel.

Day 10: Drive to Christchurch and fly out

We spent some time in Christchurch after leaving Twizel, but this was only because we were flying out of Christchurch Airport. It’s not that Christchurch is not worth visiting – I think it’s a very cool city. But if you are optimizing time to see nature in New Zealand, then Christchurch won’t be at the top of your list.

Keep in mind the drive from Twizel to Christchurch is 3 hours , so if you’re flying out early you might want to stay in Christchurch the night before to make sure you won’t be missing the flight.

Where to stay in Christchurch

For backpacker options:

  • YMCA Christchurch
  • Jailhouse Accommodation
  • JUCY Snooze Christchurch
  • YHA Christchurch Rolleston

Example Cost Breakdown of 10 days stay in New Zealand

Since a lot of people emailed me about this, here are the total cost expenditures for 10 days in South Island for 5 people. I was able to get a detailed number since we were using Splitwise to track group spending!

My airfare to NZ costs S$1260 (or roughly US$920) . I did not include it in the cost calculation, because airfare cost varies depending on where you’re coming from.

Obviously, If you are traveling with fewer people, the cost could go up since sharing a car and hotel with fewer people means more total per person.

But as you can see, the majority of the cost comes from accommodation . We stayed mainly in Airbnb, but if you are willing to go budget, then the cost can go down quite a bit. I also would budget a few hundred dollars more for any emergencies and activities you might want to do (skydiving and tours).

Do you still have more time to spend on the South Island?

If you are staying longer than 10 days in the South Island (oh lucky you!!!) – you can consider hitting up the following places:

  • Kahurangi National Park to the northwest of Christchurch. I had heard great things about Arthur’s Pass.
  • Westland Tai Poutini National Park . This is where the highly photographed Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier are! I would definitely go visit if I had the chance to go back.

And… that’s all from me for New Zealand! I can safely say New Zealand was the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited, in terms of nature and scenic routes. It could be because I haven’t traveled to the mountains during winter, so seeing snow almost every day was a brand-new experience for me.

And of course, what’s a road trip without friends? I did this trip with my teammates who are also my good friends. This was a remote work trip for us. We would go hiking in the morning and work in the afternoon and into the night to sync up with the team in Singapore.

Thank you, Lucas for organizing the trip, Shekhar for driving (a LOT), and Ezra and Nishant for being great travel buddies! This is one of the most memorable trips that I keep thinking back about.

Hooker Lake at South Island, New Zealand - 10-Day New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary

PS: Want to reference this post later?

Click on any of the images below to pin to your Pinterest board!

10 Days in New Zealand Itinerary


  • January 5, 2024

Great piece of content Melissa, cheers.

  • November 15, 2023

Thanks for the detailed write up! I was wondering if you think its’s possible to do solo female road trip in south island following your route? Anything to watch out for?

  • November 16, 2023

Hi Dan, NZ is fairly safe, so I think should be ok. Still I would exercise caution when going to remote areas (basically anything outside of Queenstown) as there will not be many people. Make sure you know what to do when alone in wilderness and careful not to get lost. Always tell someone where you will be for the day.

  • December 21, 2023

Hi Dan, I just completed my solo trip in NZ. I did this itinerary but backwards from Christchurch to Queenstown and I met another solo girl traveller who had done both islands in 3 weeks and had also hired a car. It’s very safe for girls on their own. Queenstown is especially welcoming and when I was solo cycling around in the wilderness it was safe to do so. It’s sooo under populated but the tracks are well maintained and it’s a small country so I was never completely isolated or without mobile phone reception. I wouldn’t stay at Te Anau, this town was pretty depressing!

  • July 31, 2023

Hi Melissa! Was it easy to find places to eat for breakfast lunch and dinner? Or most of the time you kinda need to prepare meals?

Which areas would you say is the hardest to find food and hence need to be prepared for?

Hey Amelia, in the towns there would be 2-3 restaurants depending on how big the town is. Lesser variety on smaller towns and things close early. We did not have difficulty with finding food. I did find the food to be pricey though so we cooked some meals.

  • April 2, 2023

Hello Melissa! May I ask what camera gear are you using? Thank you 🙂

i’m just using an iPhone 🙂

  • October 29, 2022

Hi, just wondering if the hikes are doable in June. Will it be too cold? Thanks.

  • September 16, 2022

Any recommendation for Car rental company . Your group rent car from which company ? I am looking for 7-8 seater since we are 5 so get better space with luggage .

  • August 30, 2022

Thanks Melissa for you suggestions.

  • August 29, 2022

Lot of useful information you provide here in your blog for South NZ . See if you can help in our NZ trip plan We are group of 5 pax , 4 of age ( 50-60 ) and 1 below 20 . Our plan to visit NewZealand in 2nd week .

here is our plan need some advice Day1 – Arrive Queenstown airport at 12.30 pm after overnight flight from Singapore , pickup car from Airport . On that day where we can go after hotel check in ? Question 1:Day-1 , any suggestion of some near by sight seen destination .

Day-2 – Package tour to Milford Sound

Day-3 Queenstown to Wanaka Question 2: Day-3 Any recommendation on the way (QT to Wanaka ) should we stop any place for sight seen?

Day-4 Spend at Wanaka

Day-5 Wanaka to Mount cook Question 3 : Day-5 Any recommendation on the way should we stop any place ?

Day-6 Spend at Mount Cook

Day-7 Mount cook to Christchurch ( Stop over at Lake Takapao )

Day-8 Christchurch to Greymouth (via Train TranzAlpine ) Question 4 : Ovenight stay at Greymouth , Punakaki or Hokiata ?

Day-9 Greymouth to Christchurch ( via Train ) Day-10 Christchurch sight seen Question 5 – Any 1/2 day sight seen recommendation ?

Hey Pavlesh!

Here is what I know:

Day 1 – I suggest going to the water front and walking around the downtown area for your first day. Would be nice chill day after an overnight Day 3 – This drive is quite scenic! Crown Range Road Scenic Lookout is a great place to stop by Day 5 – You can stop by Lake Pukaki on the way Day 10 – Christchurch Botanic Gardens was a nice place to visit. There is also Christchurch Gondola if you want to see the area from above

  • August 26, 2022

U mentioned u travelled in 5 but d accommodation suggested had o ly 4 beds. Where did the fifth person sleeps?

Hey Tina, which one are you looking at? We def had at least 5 beds in all of our accommodations 🤔

  • June 26, 2022

Thanks Melissa. We are planning a family holiday this summer, featuring lots of hiking, and you have really helped shape our travel planning. What a great trip you had and thanks for helping others. Stu

Hey Stu, I hope you’ll have fun in New Zealand with your family! Thanks for the kind comment

  • May 4, 2022

Hi, is it possible to share which car rental company that you used? Thank you

  • May 5, 2022

Hi Mel, I suggest looking into Klook for car rentals

  • April 28, 2022

Hi, Like your blog! You seem very keen on the fly in one city and out the other but if you had flown in and out of Queenstown you would have saved nearly 100km of driving. Were there any reasons why you flew out of Christchurch? Spots to see between Twizel and Christchurch?

Thanks Damien

Thanks Damien! Tbh i forgot the reasoning, but I think we just wanted to drive and see as many different places as possible. We’re coming from Singapore where a road trip isn’t really a thing! the drive from Twizel to Christchurch was nice too, though I wouldn’t go out of my way as you can find beautiful drives everywhere in the south island. So if you’re not keen to drive, and if there are good flight time options to go back to your destination, then going back to Queenstown is the right choice.

  • April 4, 2022

Hi Melissa, My wife & I are thinking of a 2-week free&easy trip to NZ South Island and 1 1-week North Island. Thank you for your tips!

  • April 6, 2022

Hope my blog helps! let me know if you have specific questions

  • September 23, 2020

This is wonderful information about new Zealand south island itinerary, thanks a lot for sharing kind of content with us. Your blog gives the best and the most interesting information. I wonder if we can gather such practical information about it, a great post definitely to come across.

  • August 29, 2020

Your article is quite helpful! I have so many questions, and you have answered many. Thank you! Such a nice and superb article, we have been looking for this information about a great itinerary for south island of New Zealand!

  • May 30, 2020

You see, I do have an interest to go to New Zealand but never thought of going to the South Island and what I could do. Thanks for this Melissa!

  • February 2, 2020

What a beautiful country! The view of Queenstown from the flight and the Te Anau lake look gorgeous! I was planning a trip to New Zealand sometime this year and I can’t wait now. 🙂 The travel tips are really useful.

  • January 29, 2020

Hi Melissa,

Thank you for this very informative blog. Planning to visit NZ this June during the school holiday. Can you share the car rental company you used during your trip? Does the price S$809.83 includes insurance or GPS? or any inclusions in that price?

  • January 10, 2020

I also spent a really good time there during my last journey and we came back with stunning memories.

  • December 26, 2019

Hi Melissa!

Thanks for the detailed write-up! May I know which website did you rent your car from?

  • November 23, 2019

I wish I read this post before going to New Zealand, especially your advice on car rentals. I decided to take a group tour of the south island, although I met a lot of good people I didn’t get the freedom to explore on my own! Great post!!

  • November 6, 2019

Great Blog!! Thank you for sharing this. This is really informative and useful for the one who is looking to have a trip to South Island NZ!

  • November 4, 2019

Good read and thanks for all the information. Did you manage to catch any aurora australis during your trip? Also I assume you are flying from SG. Which airline did you take and how long was the layover / which city was it?

Hey CL, I took Air NZ and it was a direct flight to Auckland. I stayed in Auckland for 5 days before going down to Queenstown. Otw back I had a 2 hour layover in Auckland.

I didn’t manage to catch Aurora Australis during my trip, but I wasn’t specifically looking out for it either. I don’t think it was the season at that time.

  • October 20, 2019

Hello Melisa For Singaporeans, it is not necessary for international driving license, contrary to what you have indicated

  • October 21, 2019

you are right! Thanks Raymond. It looks like you only need international driver license if the license is not in english.

  • September 26, 2019

I seriously hate your itinerary. We’ve tried following it and IIt’s bloody unrealistic and damn boring with so many missed out landmarks. Didn’t even get to go to franz Josef, and missed out so many places!!! Zzz

Sorry you feel that way. Can you elaborate more on your comment? which part is unrealistic? which landmarks were missed (aside of Franz Josef, which would have taken an extra day)? and how we can fit them all to 10 days?

  • August 9, 2019

Hi melissa,

Thank you so much for posted this. It s so helpfull for me! Unfortunately i booked my flights , to christchurch and will fly out again from christchurch. Any advice where i need to start tge journey?

Thankss! Michelle

  • August 10, 2019

Hey Michelle, you can still follow the same itinerary but backward. It takes 6 hours to drive back to Christchurch though, so probably something like this:

Day 1-2: Get to Christchurch, go to Aoraki / Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo Day 3-4: Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National park Day 5-6: Queenstown and surrounding areas Day 7-9: Fiordland National Park Day 10: Drive back to Christchutch (6 hours)

  • June 30, 2019

thanks for sharing, I have taken a note of these for my next trip to nz

I really liked the information and its very useful

Keep writing and inspiring, looking forward to reading your next post…

  • June 11, 2019

During which month you made this trip?

Hey there. I went in August!

  • June 12, 2019

Sorry was abit confused. in the blog you mentioned that you went this trip during the the first two weeks of September (September 1 to 17). So is it in Sep or in Aug?

ah sorry, yes it was September. I was a bit confused bc it’s been a while! However, I was working in Auckland for the first 7 days before heading down to South Island for the last 10 days. I’ve shared my itinerary here for the South Island part only

Sorry scratch that, It was mid September, not August!

  • May 28, 2019

It’s been 17 days since I came back from New Zealand and I have to admit that it was the best trip of my life. I was there for 3 weeks, traveling the island from one point to another without stopping.

It is a country that everyone should consider as a holiday destination, really advisable!

Do you mind to share your 17days itinerary for NZ?

  • May 23, 2019

Hi Melissa, this long-read was really helpful for our planning of the 10-day journey across the island. The only thing bothering me is that we are flying into Christchurch and departing from Queenstown. Shall we simply do our road trip in the reverse direction? Thanks

yes you can definitely do it in reverse direction by just reversing the itinerary. it’s all pretty linear. we just happened to choose the queenstown to christchurch direction on random.

  • May 8, 2019

Hi Melissa, Thanks for the super helpful and detailed blog. Amazing detail. Can you let us know which AirBnB you stayed at while at Te Anau? Those sunset views by the lake are awesome!

  • May 9, 2019

Hey Luke, I have a link to it above in my post!

  • April 22, 2019

I enjoyed reading your blog & taking in some tips for our family trip this coming May! However, we booked our tickets before reading it & hence we are arriving & departing at Queenstown unlike your blog (which i think was a better opion, too bad:( ). Not use if you could then suggest how we can “U- turn” our itinerary such that we are able to cover some of these lovely places & yet depart from Queenstown. We are skipping Christchurch, anyway.

Thank you in advance for sharing.

  • April 23, 2019

Hey Elaine! I think it’s still very possible to use my itinerary, as the drive from Twizel to Queenstown is only 2.5-3 hours, which is the same journey as to Christchurch. I just recommended Christchurch since the drive from Twizel to Christchurch was quite beautiful and most people don’t like to U-turn, but it wasn’t a requirement if you don’t have the time.

  • April 24, 2019

Thank you for your reply. If we are starting from Queenstown towards north-west route, at which part/town you would suggest to take the u-turn route back to Queenstown for departure? I was a bit confused & lost as to which way to take.

Thank you in advance for taking time to reply .

Hey Elaine, it really depends what you want to see, but I would U-turn around Lake Tekapo. or if you want to go further, you can go to Fox Glacier and then u-turn, but obviously, this would be longer drive back to Queenstown.

  • March 31, 2019

Hi Melissa, Thank you for sharing this itinerary, it is really informative and useful for my upcoming 10-day South Island NZ trip! I would like to ask if there’s any reason why you have chosen to drive to Te Anau the first day you arrived, other than staying at Queensland first, followed by Te Anau then head off to Wanaka?

Thank you for taking the time to answer this!

Hey Zoey, I am glad you find this post useful! You can do it that way too, but the drive from Te Anau to Wanaka might be a little long. That’s why we broke it up and stayed in Queenstown on the way back.

  • April 1, 2019

Hi Melissa, Thank you for the reply! Helps me better in my planning. Thank you for taking the time to reply! Really appreciate it!

  • August 24, 2019

Your full detailed write up is so useful. Too bad I found your page a little late cos we have booked most of our accommodations.

Just wondering what car did you rent and was it good cos we also have 6 pax? Also, driving to Te Anau and Milford Sound is easy or a rough route?

  • August 26, 2019

Hey Anne, we were a group of 4 so we didn’t rent a big car. The drive from Te Anau and Milford Sound was super easy – it was all paved route. Just becareful about speeding since it’s easy to gorget about speed limit since the road are mostly straight and empty. We got stopped by a police officer on the way back.

  • August 27, 2019

Thank you so much for your valuable advise, Melissa.

  • February 24, 2019

Hi Melissa, was wondering how much you spent in total for the whole trip? Thanks!

Hey Sera, Great question! Thankfully I have them tracked. I spent total about SGD1130 (US$836) for the expenses in NZ (Airbnb, food, groceries, car rental and gas). For the flight, I paid SGD1260 (US$930). So the overall total expense is SGD2390 (US$1768.92). I’ll add this information to the blog 🙂

  • December 28, 2018

Hi, I am thinking of booking the same accommodation as u for Christchurch! How was the airbnb? Want to hear from a fellow Singaporean 🙂

hello Jan! you are talking about this one right? I really loved it! It’s small in relative to other airbnb I booked in NZ, but for us Singaporean it’s fine 😛 it’s 2 stories, very cute and clean, comes with its own parking (but we parked outside since the garage is a bit tight to get in for daily use) and you don’t have to meet with the owner since they’ve left us with the code combination to get in. it’s walking distance to the park and some restaurant too! hope you enjoy the place

  • October 2, 2018

Great trips <3 Thanks you so much !

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  • New Zealand In September: A Fun Guide On What To Do, Where To Go & Where To Stay!

02 Jun 2023

New Zealand is a beautiful country in Oceania known for its beaches and beautiful landscapes along with a vibrant culture and lifestyle! There are many sports that people enjoy in New Zealand and the most loved of them all if of course, rugby! Not only sports, but there are also little things that you can enjoy there such as a boat ride across sparkling lakes or a hike along the alluring trails; there are also many places that you can explore in New Zealand that will make your trip unforgettable! To experience all these things and New Zealand at its best, it’s better to visit New Zealand in September!

New Zealand in September has calm and pleasant weather and since the country experiences snowfall during this time, you can also experience adventure sports like skiing! Let us look at this fun guide on why visiting New Zealand in September is ideal!

Weather In New Zealand In September

Since September marks the confluence between the spring season and winter season, the weather is both pleasant and cold and the average temperature ranges between 2 degrees Celsius and 23 degrees Celsius. The weather is cool enough to let you enjoy the country and roam about freely!

3 Places To Visit In New Zealand In September

There are many places to visit in New Zealand in September and all of them will add the wonderful memories of your trip and will give you an insight into the culture of New Zealand. The 3 best that you can visit are:

1. Lake Tekapo

 Lake Tekapo

Image Source

Tekapo is so beautiful that it almost feels surreal to look around the town! In late spring, against the backdrop of the Southern Alps and the blue lake, the lupine flowers bloom and give you a vibe so positive that you won’t feel like leaving ever. The night sky here is so charming that you can simply lay down on the grass and stargaze the entire night!

Must Read: 15 Adventurous Spots For Camping In New Zealand On Your Next Trip


The only canopy trip in New Zealand that you can take is amongst the pristine forests is Rotorua. When new vegetation begins to appear, this is a great time to swing and glide through the woods. If you feel a bit cold during September, then you can warm up in one of the many hot spring geothermal pools in the area.

Suggested Read: New Zealand In Winter: Know How To End On A Perfect Note With This Guide!

3. Hamilton


Hamilton is a beautiful city in North Island, New Zealand known for the Hamilton Gardens which is a themed garden that displays everything from the Italian Renaissance to Japanese and traditional Maori styles! The flowers at this garden bloom most embracingly in September and you will be able to catch a beautiful view!

Suggested Read: Valentine’s Day In New Zealand: 12 Romantic Things To Do With Your Beloved

4 Things To Do In New Zealand In September

There are many exciting things that you can experience during your stay in New Zealand in September. Four of the most amazing and enthralling activities to do here are:

1. Skiing And Snowboarding

 Enjoy Skiing And Snowboarding!

Who doesn’t enjoy skiing and snowboarding, right? You can experience these fun sports in New Zealand in September since it snows during this time! The best destinations for snow sports in the place are Mt. Ruapehu in the North or Mt. Hutt and Cardona in the South.

Suggested Read: Food Festivals In New Zealand: To Indulge In The Country’s Most Exclusive Delicacies

2. Kayaking

Go Kayaking!

New Zealand is really famous for kayaking and you mustn’t miss this experience for anything! Some of the places where you enjoy the thrill of this sport are Bay of Islands, Abel Tasman National Park, and Lake Taupo. You can also meet some cute dolphins while kayaking in New Zealand!

Suggested Read: 24 Famous New Zealand Tourist Attractions That One Should Visit

3. Winery Tour

 Tour Around Wineries!

New Zealand is famous for its authentic and local wine which is really delectable and unique. There are quite many wineries in New Zealand where you can tour around and taste the wine and know more about the making process.

Suggested Read: New Zealand Visa For Indians: Documents Required And More Information

Experience Hiking!

If you are adventurous, go hiking on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – the 19km walk includes active crater, old volcanic remains, and crystal clear lakes – the views of which you can enjoy and also click pictures of!

Suggested Read: 7 Must-Try Cruises In New Zealand To Make Your Vacation Memorable

3 Places To Stay In New Zealand

There are many places where you can stay in New Zealand so that you can roam around freely and without any worries of the little things of your trip. Here are the 3 best places to stay in New Zealand:

1. Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch

Christchurch Rendezvous is located in the city center, just one block from Cathedral Square and next to Christchurch Tram Station. If you love walking, the city’s beautiful Botanical Gardens, Haggle Park, and Canterbury Museum are all within walking distance and the Christchurch International Airport is only 25 minutes away! The staff at the hotel is really friendly and will help you with anything you need!

Location: 166 Gloucester Street Levels 1 to 15 of Pacific Tower, Christchurch 8011 New Zealand Price per night: Approximately between INR 10,200-10,313 TripAdvisor Rating: 4/5 Website | TripAdvisor Reviews

Suggested Read: Snorkeling In New Zealand: 6 Best Places To Swim Through Ultimate Joy!

2. Cordis, Auckland

Cordis, Auckland

Cordis Auckland Hotel is for guests who value friendly service and interactive experience. It is located in a lively residential area, within walking distance of city museums, galleries, and shops. Their 411 modern rooms and suites are tailored to suit your lifestyle. Sophisticated additions and stylish décor emphasize a high level of attention to detail and offer the latest connectivity features, including free high-speed Internet access (15 Mbps) in all rooms and public areas. Eight modern restaurants and a sophisticated lobby lounge offer stylish dining and socializing, while the quiet Chuan Spa and heated rooftop pool provide an ideal setting for relaxation.

Location: 83 Symonds Street, Auckland Central, Auckland 1061 New Zealand Price per night: Approximately Between 18,200-18,500 TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5 Website | TripAdvisor Reviews

3. Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa

This resort is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and it offers a splendid view of the sea and mountains. Each large living room and all living room apartments have separate sitting areas, and private balconies to suit your needs. Take a water taxi to explore the city and rejuvenate at the on-site luxury spa, or relax in the 25-meter heated indoor pool with steam bath and sauna. Five bars and restaurants, including Wakatipu Grill, offer popular restaurants in a superb atmosphere to make your memories unforgettable.

Location: 79 Peninsula Road Kawarau Village, Queenstown 9300 New Zealand Price per night: Approximately Between 8,500-13,000 TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5 Website | TripAdvisor Reviews

Suggested Read: New Zealand In December Is Too Much Fun. Pick Your Reasons And Plan A Trip Now!

Tips For Visiting New Zealand In September

  • Given that the season is unpredictable, carry both warm and light clothes along with an umbrella and waterproof jackets
  • Carry hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with you as it might get sunny in September
  • Pack sturdy shoes if you are planning on hiking or trekking
  • Carry all basic medicines you would need

Further Read: 10 Things To Do In Auckland In Winter To Witness A Unique Side Of New Zealand

So, visiting New Zealand in September is a good idea indeed given that there are so many things you can experience and so many amazing places that you can explore during this time. These experiences will give you a bag full of memories and you will never feel like leaving the place! So, plan your trip to New Zealand and unfold magic!

Disclaimer: TravelTriangle claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on TravelTriangle, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

Please Note: Any information published by TravelTriangle in any form of content is not intended to be a substitute for any kind of medical advice, and one must not take any action before consulting a professional medical expert of their own choice.

Frequently Asked Questions About New Zealand In September 

How’s the New Zealand weather in September?

The weather in New Zealand in September is really pleasant and breezy.

Are there any adventure activities that one can enjoy in New Zealand?

Yes, some of the adventure activities in New Zealand are: 1. Jet Boating 2. Rafting 3. Canyoning 4. Caving 5. Zorbing 6. Skydiving 7. Kayaking

Is it cold in New Zealand in September?

While the days are warm, the night may become a bit cold in New Zealand in September.

What can one do in New Zealand in September?

Since September is counted as the spring season in NZ, one can roam about flowery gardens and also enjoy snow activities such as skiing.

Is New Zealand ideal for a honeymoon in September?

The weather is really romantic and pleasant and thus September is a good time for planning a honeymoon in New Zealand.

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  • Top 10 New Zealand Tours Departing September 2024
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Top 10 New Zealand Tours September 2024

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Wellington Harbour on the North Island in New Zealand


The Remarkables in Queenstown, New Zealand

Milford Sound

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Abel Tasman

Nelson cityscape on a sunny day.

Fox Glacier

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New zealand faqs, do i need a covid vaccine to join a trip in new zealand.

Everyone travelling on an Intrepid trip must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of carriage. 

All travellers are required to produce: 

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
  • All children aged 5 to 17 years old must provide proof of vaccination (if eligible), proof of recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
  • If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional. 

In all cases, you must be fully inoculated. This means you must receive the full dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine and allow enough time for immunity to take effect. Each COVID-19 vaccine has different dosages and timeframes for inoculation, so please check the relevant medical advice associated with your vaccine.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 proof of vaccination policy

How do you get to the South Island?

Getting to the South Island is quite easy and time-efficient with two passenger airports in Christchurch and Queenstown offering several flights per day from popular destinations such as Auckland and Wellington. The price of flights can vary depending on which season you're travelling and which region/city you want to explore. Flying into Christchurch is generally cheaper than Queenstown, especially during ski season when the sleepy, snowy town comes to life. You can also catch the ferry from Wellington to Picton (located at the tip of the South Island) which takes roughly 3 and a half hours. 

Click to read more about getting to the South Island

Is it easy to get around Queenstown?

It's fairly easy and reliable to get around Queenstown with a heap of different options available including public transport, car rentals, and walking. You can easily hire a car in Queenstown with several companies located in the city centre. There is also lots of parking available in Queenstown making it convenient to drive to different locations. You can also catch public transport via the local bus network with tickets starting at NZ$2. Queenstown is also relatively flat so walking is another good option, especially for taking in the beautiful scenery. 

Read more about getting around Queenstown

What's the weather like in Christchurch?

The climate in Christchurch is fairly even and dry throughout the year but temperatures in summer aren't likely to get hot while the temperatures in winter are quite cold. It's very unlikely to experience extreme heat in summer but relatively common for freezes to happen overnight during the winter months. Christchurch still gets sunny though with 2,100 hours of sunlight every year. 

Read more about the weather in Christchurch

How do you get to the Bay of Islands?

It's relatively easy to get to the Bay of Islands from various locations within New Zealand. While the Bay of Islands region doesn't have an airport, there is an airport at Kerikeri which is only 23km away. It is easy to catch a flight from major cities such as Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown, making it the most popular way to travel. You can also drive to the Bay of Islands or catch public transport via the InterCity bus services. 

Click to read more about how to get to the Bay of Islands

What's the best time to visit Wellington?

The weather in Wellington is often unpredictable and can change multiple times throughout the day. The city is also known for being very windy which is something to be aware of when you're planning outdoor activities such as cycling. However, the climate in Wellington is quite mild throughout the year with warm summers and cool winters, making it the perfect year-round destination. 

Click to read more about when's the best time to visit Wellington

Are Intrepid trips in New Zealand accessible for travellers with disabilities?

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible , regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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  1. September in New Zealand: Weather and Event Guide

    September Travel Tips . New Zealand's school holidays start toward the end of September, which means early in the month is less crowded and ideal for touring. Parks are full of spring flowers in September, so be sure to stop by the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park or the Wellington Botanic Garden for ample photo ops.

  2. New Zealand in September: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

    September is the first month of spring in New Zealand, which means rising temperatures, melting snow, blooming flowers, and bouncing lambs everywhere. Temperatures earlier in the month lean towards wintry, but as the month progresses, the mercury rises. Average daytime high temperatures in spring range from 59° F (15° C) in Wellington and 61 ...

  3. Best Time to Visit New Zealand: When to Go & When to Avoid!

    Spring (September, October, November) is the best time to visit New Zealand if you are looking for mild temperatures ( great for hiking!) and fewer crowds. Summer ( December, January, February) is the best time to travel to New Zealand if you're looking for warm temperatures, long hours of daylight, and days spent at the beach.

  4. New Zealand in September

    Welcome to New Zealand spring! September in New Zealand is a great time to experience the best of winter and summer activities. Get away from the tourist crowds during this shoulder season in New Zealand. The weather is still a little cool but the days are getting brighter and longer during this spring season in New Zealand.

  5. New Zealand Weather in September

    September is the first month of spring in New Zealand so expect the days to get a little longer and the sun a little stronger. You'll most likely get a mixed bag of weather including mild clear days to rainy days. September is really when famous New Zealand saying "Four Seasons in a Day" comes to life.

  6. New Zealand in September

    WHAT IS HAPPENING IN NEW ZEALAND IN SEPTEMBER?. In NZ early spring heralds wildlife bursts of activity and baby lambs frolicking. September and October are peak months for viewing wildlife with new births and a flurry of activity around feeding hungry mouths. Adrenaline adventure tourism has fast flowing white water rafting on offer with the spring melt creating ideal conditions for visitors.

  7. New Zealand in September

    September marks the dawn of spring in New Zealand and with this comes the much-awaited warmer temperatures! The temperatures around the North Island fluctuate from lows of around 6°C to highs of 17°C while the South Island experiences temperatures ranging from highs of 17°C while lows, during the nights become much colder and can reach 1°C.

  8. Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Places to Visit in New Zealand

    With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

  9. New Zealand Weather in September

    In general, temperatures are mild in New Zealand in September. In the South Island and the mountains, early September can still have some frosty nights and cold days, hovering around 0°C-5°C (32°F-41°F). As the month progresses, however, temperatures rise and, by the end of September, daily highs above or around 20°C (68°F) are more and ...

  10. New Zealand in September → Weather, things to do & Tips

    Weather in New Zealand in September. Expect a mix of cool mornings and pleasantly mild afternoons throughout New Zealand during September. In the North Island, temperatures generally hover around 11°C to 16°C, while the South Island can be a bit cooler, ranging from 8°C to 15°C. It's a time when you might still catch the tail end of ...

  11. New Zealand in September: Weather, Tips & Sports

    September is the start of spring in New Zealand and a good time to visit this scenic country if you want to make the most out of fewer crowds and pleasant weather. In September, the country sees melting snow, warmer temperatures, and flowers blooming, while the natural beauty of the country remains stunning year-round.

  12. The best time to visit New Zealand

    September to November is the best time for hiking and foodie festivals. A spring rain shower is never far away from September to November, so definitely pack a lightweight waterproof jacket. New Zealand's shoulder season usually offers better accommodation prices, although another two-week burst of school holidays in September can impact ...

  13. Visiting New Zealand in September

    Temperatures in the daytime are mild (late teens) and New Zealand rainfall in September is lower, dropping to about the same as it is in summer. As usual, temperatures vary between the North and South islands, with the mercury on the cooler South ranging between -3 ° C and 22 ° C, and the North island seeing a slightly warmer 2 ° C - 23 ° C.

  14. New Zealand weather in September: Temperatures and travel tips

    In September, the weather in New Zealand is generally starting to become milder. However, the temperatures can vary depending on the region and the altitude. In the North Island, temperatures range from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F) during the day. Nights can be cooler, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F).

  15. New Zealand climate and weather

    September - November Average daytime temperature: 16 - 19˚C (61 - 66˚F) Read more about spring Regional Temperatures Climate data from NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research ... The average temperature in New Zealand decreases as you travel south. Rain, snow and sun . New Zealand is lush and green for a reason!

  16. New Zealand in September

    Because September lies on the border of two seasons, the weather tends to need to adjust itself for warmer things to come, which is why you get a bit of everything, ranging from sun to hail. Temperatures in September tend to fluctuate between 2 and 23 degrees Celsius (36 - 73 degrees Fahrenheit) on the North Island of New Zealand .

  17. When is the best time to visit New Zealand?

    Best time to visit. The best time to visit New Zealand is during the summer months of December to March. Expect long, bright, sunny days and temperatures between 61°F and 75°F. It's an ideal time to visit the lovely beaches or enjoy the many outdoor activities available, such as hiking and mountain biking.

  18. North Island New Zealand Weather in September

    September is still a wet month in the far north of the North Island, where the winter rainy season is winding down, and the average number of wet days is over 12. Elsewhere, though, such as sunny Napier, September is already relatively dry, with barely 7 wet days for the month on average. Location. Rainfall (mm) Rainfall (inch) Relative Humidity.

  19. ☀️ Best Time to Visit New Zealand: Monthly Comparison (2024)

    New Zealand Tourism in September. 279,754 International Visitors in 2019 5th busiest month of the year. Why visit New Zealand in September. The main reason we recommend visiting New Zealand in September is that you have a better chance of seeing the Aurora Australis than in other months.

  20. New Zealand South Island Itinerary: 10-day Road Trip Guide

    New Zealand South Island Travel Tips. ... I was in New Zealand in the first two weeks of September (September 1 to 17) and the weather gets very cold once you hit South Island. On average, the daily temperatures were 9-12 C but some nights could go below 0 C. There was even a snowstorm that hit Queenstown and Wanaka (thankfully a few days after ...

  21. New Zealand In September: Enjoy Snow, Pristine Lakes & Much More!

    New Zealand in September is every adventurer's dream as there are so many fun activities that one can enjoy along with exploring alluring destinations! ... Holiday Triangle Travel Private Limited. Address: Plot No - 52 , 3rd Floor, Batra House , Sector 32, Gurugram -122001,Haryana. Landline: 1800 123 5555.

  22. Top 10 New Zealand Tours Departing September 2023

    Want to take a tour in New Zealand in September 2022? We have holidays all over New Zealand from Auckland to Queenstown, explore glaciers, pristine beaches and geo-thermal wonders. These are our top 10 tours departing in September 2022. ... Wellington, and Queenstown, making it the most popular way to travel. You can also drive to the Bay of ...