New Zealand weather

New Zealand Weather

Whether you are emigrating to New Zealand for a better lifestyle or just wondering when is the best time of year to have a holiday in New Zealand, you’ll need to know what weather to expect.

Seasons

Being in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to the UK – when it is summer in the UK, it is winter in New Zealand, and vice versa. It takes a few years to get used to celebrating Christmas in summer, but otherwise you will probably find that you get used to this change quite quickly. If you are emigrating at a time of year that means you will have two winters in a row, it might be wise to find time for a holiday in a sunny place for a week or two.

Very generally, New Zealand has a very pleasant temperate climate. You’ll probably find the weather in New Zealand slightly warmer and sunnier than in the UK, but it seldom gets unpleasantly hot. As in the UK, there are four distinct seasons. And, as in the UK, Kiwis talk about the weather a lot, and it even features surprisingly frequently as the lead item in the news. And, as in the UK, the weather can be very changeable – you’ll get used to warning visitors from overseas to pack for all seasons even if they are coming in summer.

Being in the southern hemisphere, the weather is hotter in the north of New Zealand and colder in the south. Almost every area in the country has a widely known weather-related nickname or reputation – Windy Wellington, The Winterless North, humid showery Auckland, the rainy West Coast and so on. What many migrants find surprising is that, especially in the south, there is a frosty, cold winter – and that the housing is not really set up for this. The compensation for a frosty morning is usually a beautiful sunny day.

Sun protection

A very important point to note is that the sun is stronger in New Zealand. You’ll notice this even in winter, when you will still need your sunglasses surprisingly frequently. But you’ll really notice it in the summer, when you may burn even on quite overcast days. You’ll get used to “slip (on a shirt) slop (on sunscreen) slap (on a hat) and wrap (on sunglasses)” – with very high skin cancer rates in New Zealand, a hint of sunburn on a child is very frowned upon. Sunscreen is thankfully quite cheap – the Cancer Society SPF 30+ brand is excellent, widely available and about $25 for 400ml. They also have roll-ons, which are great for the kids. For more sun safety tips check out www.sunsmart.org.nz.

Another thing that we found surprising in Christchurch was the wind – some days in summer a hot gusty north-westerly wind blows, which makes it quite unpleasant to be outside. At any time of the year a southerly wind brings cold rainy weather. That said, we probably notice the weather more living in New Zealand because we are outside more – being close to beautiful beaches and parks makes an outdoor lifestyle much easier than in the UK. The average wind speed in the UK is 5.6m/s, which is a gentle breeze; NZ wind statistics suggest that New Zealand’s average wind speed is not that different. There is a neat New Zealand wind map on the EECA website, which also has a button you can push to find the sunniest places.

If you’re interested in weather statistics, you’ll find some great UK weather maps on the Met Office website, and the equivalent statistics for New Zealand on the NIWA website. Here is the link to the New Zealand Met Office.

To find out more, request a free copy of our Financial and Pension guides for New Zealand.