Summer in New Zealand? Yes, please! Depending on where you’re coming from, December to February in the southern hemisphere means a hot Christmas and plenty of time outdoors.
If you’ve been chasing the sun, summer in New Zealand is a great opportunity to see our beautiful little part of the world in near-perfect conditions.
Here are top destinations to visit in New Zealand during the summertime:
Located in Waikato, Hamilton Botanical Gardens is an incredible collection of themed gardens that attracts over one million visitors each year. Visitors are guided from one historically themed garden to the next, each displaying flora from different civilizations and countries throughout the world.
Enter the Sung’s Dynasty Chinese Scholar Garden, complete with dragon statues before stepping into an Italian Renaissance garden. There’s a pretty, perfectly recreated English Garden, and the incredible Indian Char Bagh Garden, which has a similar design to the Taj Mahal.
Pauanui is a purpose-built holiday town in the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island, which makes it the ideal spot to set up camp during summer. Find beautiful white beaches perfect for surfing, sunbathing, and long romantic walks along the 3km stretch of sand.
There’s also a range of great forest walks, including the Broken Hills walking track where you can see glow worms at night, and plenty of places to enjoy a bite to eat or play golf.
TRAVELLER’S TIP: If you’re exploring New Zealand in a self-contained campervan, you can park overnight between the freedom camping signs at South End Reserves.
Just between Taupo and Wellington, Mangaweka is a great spot to stop for a few days break up your cross-country trip. It’s the perfect stop for a little camping and water activities on the river.
Go kayaking and white-water rafting for a quick thrill, or check out the oldest historic dam in the country. Mangaweka Dam was built in 1908 and provides beautiful views of the countryside and original architecture of the dam itself.
If you’re looking for some sunshine, take a drive to Nelson in the Northwest of the South Island known as the sunniest region of New Zealand. With a bubbling city centre perfect for wining and dining, and golden beaches, Nelson is an ideal town to enjoy a relaxed and culturally rich lifestyle.
Head to Golden Bay to see the spectacularly crystal clear waters of
Te Waikoropupu Springs, a sacred place to local Maori that must never be touched. Take a horse trek along Wharariki Beach, and stop at Cape Farewell to view the lighthouse and seals sunning themselves on the rocks below.
Abel Tasman National Park is just a short drive from Nelson, with stunning white beaches perfect for enjoying water sports or camping under the stars. If you’re looking for most of New Zealand in one spot, Nelson is the ultimate experience.
If you’re looking for a short getaway or long weekend on the South Island, Dunedin and Port Chalmers are a great choice for the indecisive.
As one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere, you can be forgiven for mistaking Dunedin for Scotland. Spend an afternoon strolling through Larnach Castle and enjoy a high tea with scenic views. Or wander through the finest historic home in New Zealand at Olveston.
Just a short drive away is Port Chalmers, a charming seaside town with an eclectic mix of galleries, cafes, historic houses and exquisite wildlife. Take a tour to see rare yellow-eyed penguins, Royal Spoonbills (who migrate to New Zealand every summer), fur seals and sea lions. And don’t miss the smooth Moeraki Boulders, naturally formed balls of rock worn down by the sea.
Arriving in Arrowtown is like stepping into history. Established in 1862 at the height of the Otago gold rush, Arrowtown still has original cottages, houses and churches standing.
Located in a nook between Wanaka and Queenstown, it’s nothing short of a dream with picturesque, romantic streets and an old Victorian vibe. Visit the Lakes District Museum (considered one of the best small museums in New Zealand) and learn all about the area and gold rush of the 1800s. You can even pan for gold in the river, and may even come home with a speck or two.
This exquisite, yet smaller town in New Zealand is the perfect go-to destination for romantics and architecture lovers. The town itself offers a fair amount of glorious buildings, charming cafes and the world-famous Invercargill cheese rolls!
Located at the most southern part of the South Island, the mean temperature in summer sits at only 14°C (57°F). But don’t let the cooler climate deter you, as Invercargill invites you to see the beautiful outdoors. Take a stroll through the ravishing Queens Park, Otepuni Gardens, or enjoy a bike ride to Sandy Point. Just remember to bring a coat!
Stewart Island is the third largest Island in New Zealand, although over 85% is a national park. If you’re an avid nature lover, Steward Island is the perfect destination to enjoy scenic hikes and bird watching. You’ll see the native brown kiwi and maybe even the rare yellow-eyed penguin and blue penguins by the shore.
Take a hike from Halfmoon Bay through Rakiura National Park for epic sunsets and you may even see the green hues of Aurora Australis glowing overhead at night. As Stewart Island is a fishing town, you’re sure to be treated to some incredibly fresh seafood.
Book your New Zealand summer adventure. Find the perfect camper for your holiday here.