18 April, 2023
Last updated on 30 October, 2023
Posted by Marty | Spaceships Crew
June, July and August are the winter months in New Zealand. Quite different from the summer weather that you’re used to back home in those months. We’ve created this blog post packed with info about the New Zealand winter. You’ll see that it is a great time travelling and camping in New Zealand!
5 reasons why the New Zealand winter is perfect for travelling
It’s almost impossible to say what the best season is to explore New Zealand. Our little country is simply amazing year-round. Of course, each season has its advantages. And the New Zealand winter has many advantages. Have a look.
1. Winter is the cheapest season
If you want to spend the least amount of money on travelling through New Zealand, then you’ll love winter. Campervan prices are based on supply and demand (and a few other factors) and fortunately for you as winter fan, most tourist visit New Zealand in summer. This means that prices in winter drop significantly. Have a look at how low our campervan prices are in winter (June - August). Compare that to the rate in the busy summer season, meaning you can travel 5 to 7 times longer in winter for the same amount of money. You can save a lot of money by travelling in the winter season.
And the same goes for hostels… Their rates are low as well, making it easy and cheap to mix sleeping in a campervan with staying in a hostel occasionally. And you don’t need to plan your trip like you sometimes need to do in summer. Just see where the road will take you and decide at the end of the day where you want to sleep that night. Easy as.
Amazing views in the New Zealand winter
2. Fewer people around
As most tourist travel to New Zealand in summer (December to February), winter is quiet time. It’ll feel like you have the country to yourself. Campgrounds (also the free and budget campsites) will be nice and quiet. Just a few people around or no one at all. You don’t need to plan or book ahead. This is the perfect time for the ultimate flexible your road trip in the New Zealand winter.
Camping in winter means fewer people around
The same goes for attractions, landmarks and hikes… Few tourists around, so no one in your way when you want to take that perfect photo. Fewer people means more fun for you. And some of the attractions look better in winter anyway.
3. Outdoor fun at the ski areas
Don’t think we need to explain this one. As ski or snowboard fan you know that winter is your favourite season.
A campervan is even better for travelling to these ski areas than a car.
Spaceships campervans drive like a car, so it’s easy to reach most ski areas.
You’ll have your fridge packed with food and drinks. Enjoy a hot meal (soup, yummm) after you’re done skiing.
Sleep nearby the ski areas on a (free/budget) campground and be one of the first to hit the slopes. Use the free Spaceships camping app to find campgrounds near each ski area.
4. Celebrate Matariki: Maori New Year
Matariki is for many Māori the start of a new year. It’s the Māori of stars we also know as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter, late May or early June. Have a look at the Beginner’s Guide to Finding Matariki to get the most out of this event.
Throughout New Zealand, there will be Matariki festivals and events taking place.
5. Crisp clear and sunny winter days
Don’t be fooled by the words New Zealand winter. It isn’t like the winters back home where the whole country is snowy and icy. In New Zealand, it’s only in certain parts of the country where you’ll experience snow. Have a look at the average temperatures in New Zealand listed below.
On a beautiful winter day in New Zealand, you’ll be able to experience sunshine during the day and have a crisp, cool evening & night.
Beautiful winter day (June) at Lake Ianthe
What to expect from the New Zealand winter
Your next questions are about what winter is like in New Zealand. Will there be much snow or ice? Will a road be closed? Keep reading as all your questions about the New Zealand winter will be answered.
Is it cold? Let’s have a look at the average temperatures
Average temperatures in New Zealand
Average temperatures in winter (in °C)
Auckland (North Island)
Wellington (North Island)
Christchurch (South Island)
Queenstown (South Island)
Dunedin (South Island)
Staying extra warm on your camping trip
Spaceships campervans are funky, compact campervans that are perfect for two people sleeping in it. Although nights can be cold in winter, you’ll stay warm in your campervan. Spaceships are based on Toyota Estima cars and are better insulated than campervans that are based on cargo vans (like the Toyota Hiace)
That will provide extra warmth, even on a cold night. The Winter Warmer Pack will provide more than enough warmth in winter.
Differences between the North Island and South Island in winter
New Zealand's North Island and South Island have distinct differences in their climate, landscape, and activities during winter, which typically lasts from June to August. These are the differences between the two islands during winter in New Zealand.
Climate: The North Island has a much milder climate during winter, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F). Coastal areas may experience rain, while central regions can have frosty mornings. On the other hand, the South Island is colder and experiences more snowfall, with temperatures ranging from -5°C to 10°C (23°F to 50°F). The Southern Alps and other mountainous regions can receive significant snow, while coastal areas have cold, crisp days with occasional rain.
Landscape: The North Island's landscape features geothermal areas, such as Rotorua, as well as subtropical forests, volcanoes, and rolling hills, while the South Island boasts the dramatic Southern Alps, fjords, glaciers, and expansive plains. In winter, the mountains and lakes are often covered in snow, creating stunning vistas.
Skiing and snowboarding: The North Island has a few ski resorts, such as Mount Ruapehu, which includes Whakapapa and Turoa ski areas, and Tukino ski field, while the South Island is home to a larger number of ski resorts, including popular options like Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona, and Treble Cone. These resorts are often more extensive and offer a wider variety of terrain.
Road conditions in winter: do I need snow chains?
Snow chains are only needed on certain roads on the South Island. New Zealand isn't as snowy or icy in winter as you might think. Most normal roads are accessible year-round, also in winter. But if you do need snow chains, you can hire them with your campervan. Check out our range of optional winter accessories, like snow chains.
Whatever time of year you’re doing a road trip in New Zealand, you should always check what the weather forecast is and what the road conditions are. These links will help you out:
In the New Zealand winter some roads can get icy or slippery, so make sure to drive to the conditions. Also, make sure to have a look at our tips about driving in New Zealand. No matter, the season it’s always better to be prepared.
See you in New Zealand this winter?
The combination of cheap travel, fewer people visiting and colder but beautiful days make winter the perfect time to explore New Zealand. Will we see here this year? We're looking forward to it. But if you still have the feeling that winter in New Zealand is too cold for you then definitely look into travelling to New Zealand in spring or autumn.
Spring in New Zealand would be more to your liking with more favourable temperatures and longer days. Or autumn in New Zealand as a great alternative for an expensive summer road trip. Prices in autumn are lower - not as low as in winter though - than in summer, the weather is lovely and the changing colours of the leafs are amazing.