By May, the weather in New Zealand can get quite cool and travellers should pack warm clothing, preferably in light layers for maximum comfort indoors and out during the day. There is a host of outdoor activities waiting to be enjoyed – hiking, biking, fishing, exploring – whatever the weather.

May Weather

Between May and September, the 'cold weather' months in New Zealand, you will need warm clothing for the days, evenings and nights. In the North Island, generally the slightly warmer of the two main islands, temperatures in May can drop to 9-11°C even in the Bay of Islands. On the South Island, the temperature can quite easily drop to 6°C.

Activities That May Appeal

Fishing

Although the weather in May is cooler than in the earlier autumn months, there is still a great choice of outdoor activities to enjoy. Simply wrap up warm and enjoy:

  • Fishing – Head to the Taupo/Turangi rivers and Northland lakes and rivers for great winter fishing.
  • Mountain biking – Pedal through the New Zealand countryside without overheating.
  • Bungy jumping – Take a deep breath, fill your lungs with fresh, mountain air, then dive!
  • Hunting – New Zealand has some of the finest trophy hunting and shooting in the world.

New Zealand Cold Weather Clothing

When you visit New Zealand in May, it is best to pack lots of layers, so you can adapt to changes in outdoor and indoor temperatures. If you don't have much cool weather clothing, then an easy solution is to buy what the New Zealand locals are wearing. (Just remember your luggage allowance when you're packing up to leave for home again!).

  • Merino Clothing – Although expensive, merino clothing is popular in New Zealand and prized for its softness, comfort and warmth. It is commonly found in high-end performance wear but also makes a great warm, 'woolly' layer for everyday use. It is available online and in stores throughout New Zealand, (which generally are well-stocked in time for May's cooler weather).
  • Possum-Merino Wool – Clothing made from possum-merino is a blend of possum fur and merino wool and is incredibly soft, light and very warm. A wide range of possum-merino clothing can be purchased in New Zealand.
  • Fleeces – It's hard to find a New Zealander who doesn't own a fleece jacket or bodywarmer. Practical, hard-wearing and warm, fleece clothing is great for everyday warmth, outdoor sports and hiking.
  • Polypropylene/Thermals – Clothes made from polypropylene (or polypro) are especially popular with hikers. This type of clothing is made from an easy care, fast drying fabric that draws sweat away from the skin and provides lightweight warmth.
  • Sheepskin – Not just practical, but a great souvenir from New Zealand. There's no better way to beat the chilly May weather than in a pair of sheepskin boots or slippers.

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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