14 BEST LUXURY HOTELS IN NEW ZEALAND
Discover the best luxury hotels across the North & South Islands for your luxury New Zealand holiday.
New Zealand is a year-round destination, offering something special throughout every season.
The summer months of December to February are filled with long days and large doses of sunshine, perfect for relaxing by the beautiful beaches and enjoying a range of outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking, sailing, mountain biking, boat cruising, rafting and canyoning.
These are the most popular months to visit New Zealand, due to the ideal weather and the holiday season, with numerous celebratory events and outdoor festivals taking place. New Zealand is quite special over the New Year period, as Gisborne (a surfing, wine and cultural mecca on the North Island), will be the first city on earth to greet the first sunrise of the year.
March through to May heralds the milder temperatures and slower crowds of autumn, with the country illuminated in the breathtaking golden glimmer of autumn foliage. It’s a season for stunning photography, scenic drives, and hikes through the spectacular landscapes.
Winter arrives in June and with it comes the first snowfall, signalling the start of New Zealand’s fantastic snow season. July and August are excellent for a range of snow sports including skiing, snowboarding, heliskiing, ice skating and snowshoeing, and ski fields can be found across both islands.
However, winter in New Zealand is more than just ski fields. You can visit the magical geothermal parks as the cool temperatures collide spectacularly with the steaming blowholes, while thermal mineral pools and natural hot springs are a wonderful (and warming) experience during this season.
The ski fields stay open until September, the first month of spring, when the country lights up in a show of spring blossoms and vibrant flowers. There are plenty of spring festivals to enjoy as the weather warms up, although the climate can be unpredictable with a smattering of cold and rainy days.
New Zealand’s stunning parks and botanical gardens come alive with colourful flowers until October and there are also fewer crowds during these months.
November is the last month of spring, offering a period of tranquility before the summer crowds arrive. It’s one of the best months to visit New Zealand due to pleasant temperatures, fewer visitors and ideal conditions for outdoor activities. Hike along spectacular trails, raft down thundering rivers and cruise through the breathtaking Milford Sound.
January is a great month to visit New Zealand, with long sunny days and pleasant mid-summer weather. Temperatures are warm across the country, with daytime highs of 25 degrees Celsius on North Island and 22 degrees Celsius on South Island.
It’s a great month to get outdoors, soak up the sunshine and try some water activities. Popular water activities across New Zealand are snorkelling, swimming, surfing, canyoning and white water rafting. You’ll enjoy the balmy water and the sun-drenched coastlines.
January is a very popular month to travel in New Zealand due to the excellent weather and holiday season. The country lights up with New Year celebrations and outdoor events.
There are plenty of fantastic festivals running throughout January including the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch and the Auckland Seafood Festival. Wellington comes alive with around 90 free events held in the city throughout summer, while the New Zealand Sevens rugby tournament in Hamilton begins in late January.
February is the last month of summer but it’s usually also the warmest, with plenty of clear sunny days.
The holiday crowds are beginning to slow down, but it’s still a popular time to visit, with numerous outdoor events and ideal weather for outdoor activities. You’ll enjoy pleasant daytime highs of 25 degrees Celsius on North Island and 22 degrees Celsius on South Island.
February is the perfect month to get into nature. Go hiking, mountain biking and scenic driving, or head to the beach to bask in the sunshine.
It’s also a great time for sailing, swimming and kayaking; you can visit the Bay of Islands on North Island, or Abel Tasman National Park and the Marlborough Sounds on South Island.
There are scores of fantastic festivals and events being held around the country including the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival, Chinese New Year Lantern Festivals in Auckland and Christchurch, Art Deco Weekend in Napier, and Waitangi Day (New Zealand’s national day) which is held on 6th February.
March bring the arrival of autumn, easing the country into cooler, although still pleasantly warm, sunny days.
Temperatures average 23 degrees Celsius on North Island and 22 degrees Celsius on South island, though some areas such as the Bay of Islands and Rotorua still reach daytime highs of up to 27 degrees Celsius.
The crowds are slowing down and the landscape is changing, with foliage lighting up in autumn hues and vineyards cloaked in juicy grapes.
March is great for outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, scenic driving, hot-air ballooning, and skydiving. You can still get out onto the water for sailing, kayaking, rafting and jet boating, although the water may be too cold for swimming.
There’s a number of great events held across the country, including the Ellerslie Flower Show in Christchurch, the Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika and Balloons Over Waikato in Hamilton. The Wellington Fringe Festival is also happening, running from February to March.
April is a beautiful month to visit New Zealand, with spectacular autumnal colours lighting up the breathtaking landscapes.
Scenic drives through the gorgeous autumn foliage is an absolute pleasure. Arrowtown on South Island is a top spot for leaf chasing, and they even hold the amazing Arrowtown Autumn Festival in late April.
There are plenty of other great spots to see foliage and enjoy some autumn photography, balmy picnics, long walks and hikes, including Mackenzie country, Christchurch and the Queenstown region.
April still sees clear, sunny days, however the nights are becoming much cooler. Daytime temperatures average 20 degrees Celsius on North Island and 18 degrees Celsius on South Island.
There are some great events held in April including Wanaka’s Festival of Colour and the Auckland Royal Easter Show. The New Zealand International Comedy Festival also runs through April, and you can catch some world-class comedy acts across the country.
With falling temperatures and an increasing chance of rain, May is a quiet month in New Zealand. The days can be unpredictable, offering a variety of of clear days, rainy weather, and cooler temperatures.
Daytime temperatures reach around 18 degrees Celsius on North Island and 16 degrees Celsius on South Island. The crisp, cool air makes outdoor activities quite pleasant. You can go hiking, mountain biking and fishing, or try adventure sports such as bungy jumping.
May is a great month to soak up New Zealand’s culture, as it’s New Zealand Music Month, a time to celebrate local artists. There’s also the Auckland Writers’ Festival, the Documentary Edge Festival in Wellington and Auckland, and the Handmade Festival held in Wellington, where you can sign up for some creative workshops.
Foodies will also enjoy plenty of great events including the Great New Zealand Food Show in Hamilton and the mouthwatering Bluff Oyster Festival.
Heralding the start of winter, June brings cold weather and usually the first snowfall of the season.
You’ll need to pack warm winter clothes and some waterproof gear, as the Auckland region sees lots of rainfall during winter, with average highs of 15 degrees Celsius. South Island has less rainfall and clearer days, with average highs of around 13 degrees Celsius.
As the mountain regions of South Island become blanketed in snow, the ski fields begin to open. Mount Hutt ski field or Coronot Peak in Queenstown are usually the first to open, offering excellent skiing and snowboarding.
You can also still do plenty of normal warm weather activities like kayaking, hiking, bungy jumping, canyoning jet boating, ballooning or scenic driving.
The beginning of winter is celebrated across the country, most famously in Queenstown, with the annual 10-day Queenstown Winter Festival.
June is also an important month as it is the beginning of Matariki, the Maori New Year. Matariki is marked by the appearance of the Pleiades constellation in the sky and is celebrated nationwide, with many events happening around the country.
July is mid-winter and the busiest month on the ski fields due to the school holidays.
The temperatures are cold with daytime highs of 13 degrees Celsius across the country. It’s also one of the wettest months in New Zealand, with high rainfall across the North Island including Auckland and Wellington, and also the Christchurch region on South Island.
Conversely, July is the driest winter month for the west coast of the South Island, with places such as Queenstown and Westport receiving low levels of rain and clear days that are perfect for sightseeing.
You can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing and heli skiing across the country, with popular ski fields including Whakapapa in the North Island, as well as Queenstown and Central Otago on South Island.
July is still a great time for many outdoor activities, including rafting, kayaking, bungy jumping, fishing and boat cruising. As New Zealand is particularly beautiful in winter, you can enjoy scenic drives, a cruise through Milford Sound or a scenic TranzAlpine train ride through the stunning snowy alpine regions.
August is the last month of winter and you’ll need to wrap up in the cold weather, although conditions are slightly milder on North Island as the season leans into spring.
Regions in North Island, such as Auckland and Northland, can experience high levels of rain, with daytime highs of 15 degrees Celsius, while South Island is still quite chilly with daytime highs of 13 degrees Celsius and periods of large snowfall throughout the month.
It’s a quiet month for tourists and a great time to experience the tranquility of the snow-cloaked landscapes. It’s one of the best months to hit the ski fields, with plenty of snow, fewer crowds and excellent conditions for skiing and snowboarding.
August is also a great time explore the magical geothermal parks in Rotorua, Taupo and White Island, as the cool temperatures intensify the steaming blowholes. You can also soak in the country's natural hot springs and thermal mineral pools, with top spots including Taupo on North Island and Hanmer Springs on South Island.
It’s also a great time to see humpback whales as they glide past Kaikoura on South Island, on their way to warmer waters.
September brings the first month of spring in New Zealand. The temperatures are slowly rising with daytime highs of 17 degrees Celsius, however you’ll need your warm layers as the days and nights can still be cold and the weather is unpredictable.
New Zealand comes alive with spring blossoms and melting snowy mountains. You’ll see gorgeous newborn lambs frolicking through lush green farmlands and magnificent orcas gliding gracefully along the coastline.
It’s a great time for snow sports, as ski fields are still open in September and you can also try out warm weather activities such as kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, sailing and hiking.
September is a brilliant time for scenic drives, long walks through blooming gardens and parks. Some of the best places to see the spring flowers are the Auckland Botanic Gardens, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park, or the Wellington Botanic Gardens, particularly towards the end of September when the Wellington Spring Festival takes place.
There are numerous spring festivals across the country, including the Alexandra Blossom Festival, the Hastings Spring Festival, the Palmerston North International Spring Festival and Nelson’s Cherry Blossom Festival. There’s also the fantastic World of Wearable Art show in Wellington.
October is mid-spring, bringing milder temperatures, spring blossoms and the last opportunity to visit the ski fields for skiing and snowboarding.
The weather is unpredictable with a mix of cool and mild days, with average daytime highs of 19 degrees Celsius. There can also be a few rainy days and strong winds, so you’ll need to prepare for a range of climates.
October is a great month for outdoor activities and wildlife encounters. Go dolphin, seal and whale watching, or go for a hike through the forest to see an array of fascinating birdlife. Hiking conditions are fantastic for some of New Zealand’s most spectacular trails including tracks around Tongariro Crossing and Aoraki Mount Cook.
It’s an ideal month to see New Zealand in bloom, with spring flowers on show in many botanical gardens, including Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. There are also spring festivals including the Bay of Plenty Garden Art Festival and Taranaki Garden Spectacular.
There are also numerous cultural events in October including the Auckland Heritage Festival, the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival, the Dunedin Heritage Festival and the Akaroa French Festival.
November is one of the best months to visit New Zealand, as the days are getting warmer and the summer tourist crowds haven’t yet arrived.
Temperatures are heating up, with pleasant daytime highs averaging 21 degrees Celsius around the country, although you may still experience a few cold and rainy days.
November is perfect for all outdoor activities including hiking, rafting, mountain biking, canyoning, sailing, fishing and jetboating. Go for a scenic drive or flight and take advantage of the smaller crowds at tourist hotspots such as Milford Sound.
The Lake Tekapo and Canterbury regions come alive with a gorgeous show of wild gorse and blooming lupins. The landscapes are blanketed in the vibrant purple and blue flowers, offering stunning photography opportunities.
There are plenty of unique events happening in November including Guy Fawkes’ Night on 5th November, where the country lights up with fireworks displays, most notably at the Wellington Sky Show. The Canterbury A&P Show is a fantastic insight into New Zealand country life, while the Victorian Fete in Oamaru celebrates its Victorian architecture with parades, dancing and markets.
Summer has arrived in New Zealand with long, sunny days and larger crowds.
December is a popular month for tourists and locals alike, with plenty of celebrations and warm weather reaching average daytime highs of 23 degrees Celsius across the country.
It’s a great month for days spent at the beach and you can try a range of activities including sailing, kayaking, canyoning and bush walking. The coastal areas, particularly on North Island, light up with the stunning red flowers of the pohutukawa trees, known as New Zealand Christmas trees.
There’s plenty of fantastic Christmas and New Year events across the country, and you can even witness the world’s first sunrise of the year in Gisborne.
There’s also a number of events held in December in the lead up to Christmas. Enjoy the Silo Cinema event in Auckland, with a free outdoor cinema held every weekend, the Festival of Lights in New Plymouth, a range of events in the Wellington Botanical Garden and Taranaki summer festival.
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