The best time to go backpacking in New Zealand really depends on what you want to do when you are there as some things are weather dependant (like heli-hike Franz Joseph).
If you know what you want to do, plan your arrival and route to fit in as much of your itinerary as you can.
With so much natural beauty, crazy stuff to do in all seasons, friendly people and varied weather you can’t really go wrong. They even have a winter ski season on both islands you know..
The warmest months of the year are September to April with daytime temps varying from 15 – 30+ degrees in the summer to 10 – 25 degrees in the autumn (& spring) and 5 – 18 degrees in the Winter.
Spring is Sept-Nov in New Zealand
Spring time is a great time to go backpacking in New Zealand.
The warming climate begins to reveal ever changing scenery and you can start to see the lush greens, crystal sharp blues and snow-capped mountains as the month’s progress.
The air is fresh and the country feels ready for new adventures.
Spring is a great time to get out doors.
The rivers are filled with the winter run off and this gives you the opportunity to jump in a raft or canoe and head to the white water.
You could try out the shotover Jet in Queenstown, trust me it is great fun!
Spring is a great time to see some wildlife which thriving this time of year or dust off your mountain bike & hiking boots and hit some of the amazing walking trails available everywhere.
The Ski season in New Zealand lasts into spring so if snowboarding this is your thing (like it is mine) you have a nice long season on some pretty decent pistes.
If skiing isn’t your thing, can get up the mountains anyway as at this time of year the already breath-taking views enhanced with some fantastic colour contrasts for the budding photographer. You will not be disappointed.
Summer is Dec-Feb in New Zealand
Obviously summer time is one of the best seasons to go backpacking in New Zealand.
The temperature rises, the days are long and sunny, the nights are mild and comfortable and everyone is itching to get outdoors.
Its BBQ season! (not that they need an excuse out there)
While locals head to “the crib” (Kiwi for a holiday home) why not join them and hit a near by beach side hostel as you start to get a feel for summer life in New Zealand.
There are so many gorgeous beaches in New Zealand ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing, boating, and water sports during summer.
If the beach isn’t your thing, go walking in the bush, skydiving or swimming with dolphins.
These are just a few suggestions among a huge variety of outdoor activities of offer when you go backpacking in New Zealand.
Don’t forget Christmas is in the summer in NZ.
It can feel a little odd if you are used to a cold winter but here Christmas is generally celebrated in shorts and T-shirt.
The bright crimson blooms of the pohutukawa (New Zealand’s native Christmas tree) line the coasts with their festive colour giving a real Christmas feel about the place.
The sunniest areas are considered to be the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Marlborough as they receive the most hours of sunshine in a year.
Autumn is March-May in New Zealand
Autumn in New Zealand is a slightly cooler season with settled weather.
Landscapes are filled with the vibrant colours (Red, gold and orange) and the various fruits of the harvest.
It is still a great time of the year to go backpacking in New Zealand.
Get out and about, visit the countryside and experience some of New Zealand’s finest cycling and walking tracks.
Autumn is the prefect time for hiking as the temperatures are comfortable and the fantastic scenery is ever changing.
If you are a cyclist you are in luck as New Zealand’s growing cycle trails network offers everything from a gentle gradient to a more challenging downhill run.
Winter is June-August in New Zealand
This is the snowy season in New Zealand and as you would expect there is a wide range of winter activities available to you especially in the mountainous areas.
While it is the snowy season the winter climate can be quite varied.
You will find cold crisp days in the high country and southern regions but in may be mild and moist in the sub-tropical northern or more temperate in the western coastal regions where rainforests thrive.
As usual there is plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities or you can stay indoors and enjoy a game of uno with some friends, munchies and goon.
Winter in the North and South islands mean it is the time to hit the slopes. New Zealand has some amazing alpine playgrounds with pistes large enough to rival the European alps.
I cant think of a better time to backpack in New Zealand as i love to snowboard so if you are interested in hitting the slopes on a board or Skis the time is now!
Head to Coronet Peak or the Remarkables, in Queenstown or Mt Hutt, in the Canterbury region which has one of the longest and most consistent seasons in the southern hemisphere.
Queue the butt twitching bus rides to the piste, snow chains and fear! haha
If winter sports is not your thing don’t worry there is still loads on offer in New Zealand.
There are loads of winter events all over NZ including the Queenstown Winter Festival in June, the Winter Games NZ, F.A.W.C and 50 food events in Wellington over a 2 week period to name a few.