New Zealand's December is hot and sunny and is the big month for the locals, as well as travellers, with Christmas and the start of the long school holidays. There are plenty of Christmas events, festivities and festivals to ensure that you have great festive season away from home.

December Weather

For visitors from the northern hemisphere especially, the first month of summer (as opposed to winter) in December is always a bit of a novelty. A 'hot Christmas' is celebrated by many New Zealanders with a 'barbie on the beach' rather than with a cooked roast meal. The summer months of December, January and February typically bring with them high temperatures and sunshine. Days are long and sunny, nights are mild.

Nor'Wester Winds

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Abel Tasman National Park
Nelson, New Zealand
Photographer: Ian Trafford
(www.iantraffordphotos.com)

Look out for the Nor'west arch, a band of high white cloud in an otherwise clear blue sky over the Southern Alps (on New Zealand's South Island). It is accompanied by a strong, hot northwesterly wind, the Nor'wester (a foehn wind). They can blow any time of year, but are more common during the summer.

The Nor'westers are great for drying the holiday laundry quickly, but the Nor'westers can also effect people's behaviour, as well as the environment. Keep an eye out!

New Zealand's Sunny Centres

For real sun-bunnies, sun-lovers and sun-seekers, the sunniest spots to mark onto that map of New Zealand are listed below. (Stay sunsafe, bunnies – the UV rating in New Zealand is extremely high.)

  • Nelson (South Island) – Home to the Abel Tasman National Park and world-class wineries.
  • Tauranga (North Island) – During the summer months, holidaymakers arrive to enjoy the white coastal surf beaches from Mount Maunganui to Papamoa.
  • Blenheim (South Island) – The gateway to wineries, the Marlborough Sounds, gourmet foods and adventure activities.
  • Kaitaia (North Island) – En route to Cape Reinga, you can enjoy horse trekking, fishing, surfing, kayaking, diving, golfing, hiking and quad biking here.
  • Gisborne (North Island) – Home to world champion surfers and Waikanae and Midway Beaches.
  • Lake Tekapo (South Island) – One of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand, its spectacular turquoise water is surrounded by the mountains of the Southern Alps.

Weather By Month

Our overview of New Zealand's typical weather by month can help you plan your holiday, unmissable highlights for the month (e.g. events and festivals), sightseeing and activities and even your packing. But do be warned – these are not weather forecasts, so expect some of the unexpected during your stay!

Spring WeatherSummer WeatherAutumn WeatherWinter Weather
SeptemberDecemberMarchJune
OctoberJanuaryAprilJuly
NovemberFebruaryMayAugust

Weather in the Major Centres

Find out: where to expect 'four seasons in one day', where to find New Zealand's semi-tropical regions, which city is the sunniest, where to experience the most rainfall and discover which city is the country's windiest.

North Island Weather and ClimateSouth Island Weather and Climate
AucklandChristchurch
Bay of IslandsQueenstown
Rotorua 
Wellington 

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