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When to Visit New Zealand


Although much of New Zealand offers mild temperatures year round, the country's mountains and intimacy with the sea bring different reasons to visit each season. Here's a small sampling of activities and events to explore.

Spring: September, October, November

  • Gardening festivals are popular at various times throughout the year. In late October to early November, visit the Dunedin Rhododendron Festival (www.rhododunedin.co.nz).
  • The Montana World of Wearable Art Awards occurs in Wellington in September, an unusual event combining theater, dance, art, and more into one breathtaking show (www.worldofwearableart.com)
  • The Kaikoura Seafest takes place in October, featuring seafood and Marlborough and Canterbury wines (www.seafest.co.nz)

Summer: December, January, February

  • The Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta, a huge sailing event, is held the last Monday in January (regatta.org.nz)
  • Many food and wine festivals take place in summer, including the Hawkes Bay Wine and Food Festival during the first week of February (harvesthawkesbay.co.nz), and the Devonport Food and Wine Festival near Auckland in late February (devonportwinefestival.co.nz).
  • Not surprisingly, summer is primetime for many of New Zealand's abundant outdoor and adventure opportunities, although many are available from spring through fall, too. Top sports include sailing, sea kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, golf, and fly-fishing -- in addition to whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, and paragliding, if you dare!

Autumn: March, April, May

  • International Arts Festival, New Zealand's largest cultural event, occurs end of February/beginning of March in alternating years (www.nzfestival.telecom.co.nz)
  • The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival in March features scores of unusual, sometimes bizarre, foods (wildfoods.co.nz)
  • In March of 2009, Christchurch hosts the famous Ellerslie International Flower Show (ellerslieflowershow.co.nz)

Winter: June, July, August

  • Matariki -- The Maori New Year -- occurs in June, with a month-long schedule of events
  • Visit New Zealand's capital, Wellington, its Museum of Te Papa Tongarewa (www.tepapa.govt.nz), and hear the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (www.nzso.co.nz)
  • Check out Auckland's vibrant culinary scene, with its many world-class restaurants and cafés
  • Winter's the time for world-class skiing in New Zealand's Southern Alps
  • If you love golf, don't write winter off as a time to visit Auckland -- it can be a 4-season activity there
  • The Queenstown Winter Festival occurs in July, featuring ski races and other mountain activities, along with lots of fun street entertainment (www.winterfestival.co.nz)


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