New Zealand in December: A Traveler's Guide

New Zealand in December

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verification Verified Expert

    As the Northern Hemisphere is bundling up for winter, New Zealand is basking in the warm embrace of summer. If you've ever wondered about visiting New Zealand in December, you're in for a treat. 

    From the balmy weather to the plethora of activities, December is a fantastic time to explore this island nation.

    Weather in New Zealand in December 

    In December, the North Island of New Zealand experiences warm weather. Daily averages often exceed 23°C (73.4°F), while nighttime temperatures seldom fall below 12°C (53.6°F).

    During December, New Zealand enjoys mild weather. The North Island typically has slightly warmer temperatures than the South Island. However, the South Island often sees more rain during this period.

    Weather in New Zealand in December

    Best things to do in New Zealand in December

    Hiking and Tramping

    December's warm and sunny climate makes New Zealand a hiker's paradise. The country boasts a myriad of trails, from coastal walks to alpine treks. For those seeking a challenge, the Tongariro National Park and Mount Cook National Park offer breathtaking landscapes. The diverse terrains ensure that whether you're a novice or an expert, there's a trail just for you. Higher altitudes provide cooler temperatures, making long treks more enjoyable.

    Hiking in New Zealand

    Skiing and Snowboarding

    While December is summer in New Zealand, certain high-altitude regions, especially in the South Island, might still have remnants of snow. This provides a unique opportunity for summer skiing. It's a surreal experience to ski under the summer sun, especially for those used to the winter ski seasons of the Northern Hemisphere.

    Ski in New Zealand

    Maori Culture and History in New Zealand 

    The Maori culture is deeply rooted in New Zealand's history. Visitors can immerse themselves in this rich heritage by visiting maraes, which are traditional meeting grounds. Traditional performances, such as the Haka, provide a glimpse into the Maori way of life. Another must-experience is the hangi feast, where food is cooked using heated rocks buried in a pit oven.

    Maori Culture in New Zealand

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    Explore New Zealand Cuisine

    Must-Try Dishes and Restaurants New Zealand's cuisine is a reflection of its bountiful produce. December, being summer, is the perfect time to indulge in fresh seafood and fruits. The Kiwi pavlova, a meringue-based dessert, is a must-try. Wine enthusiasts can also embark on wine tours, especially in regions like Waiheke Island, known for its vineyards.

    Hangi Food

    Wildlife and Nature in New Zealand

    New Zealand's isolated location has resulted in a unique biodiversity. From the iconic kiwi bird to the playful dolphins, the country offers numerous wildlife spotting opportunities. Nature enthusiasts can explore places like the Paradise Valley Springs to witness the diverse fauna. Whether it's watching penguins waddle on the beach or swimming alongside dolphins, New Zealand promises an unforgettable wildlife experience.

    Kiwi in New Zealand

    What to Pack in New Zealand in December 

    When preparing for a trip to New Zealand in December, it's essential to be ready for varying weather conditions. While the days are generally warm, the evenings can bring a cool breeze. Here's a more detailed packing list:

    • Lightweight clothing for daytime: Opt for breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. These materials will keep you comfortable during the warm days.
    • A warm sweater or jacket for evenings: Even in summer, the nights can get chilly, especially in certain regions. A light sweater or jacket is perfect for those cooler moments.
    • A raincoat or umbrella: December might be summer, but rain showers can still occur. It's always a good idea to be prepared for unexpected downpours.
    • Sunscreen and a hat: The sun in New Zealand can be intense, especially in December. Protect your skin with a good quality sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.
    • Sturdy shoes for hiking: If you plan on exploring New Zealand's beautiful landscapes, invest in a good pair of hiking shoes. They'll provide the necessary support and grip for various terrains.

    Additionally, consider packing some swimwear for beach days and a pair of comfortable sandals or espadrilles for casual outings. Don't forget your sunglasses and, importantly, some bug spray to keep those pesky sand-flies at bay.

    December in New Zealand

    Travel tips for New Zealand in December

    • Book in Advance: December is a popular time for tourists, given the pleasant weather and the holiday season. It's advisable to book accommodations, car rentals, and popular activities ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
    • Drive Safely: December coincides with school holidays, meaning more families are on the road. Always be cautious, adhere to speed limits, and be prepared for increased traffic in certain areas.
    • Explore Lesser-Known Areas: While iconic spots like Queenstown and Rotorua are must-visits, consider venturing to off-the-beaten-path locations. The Catlins in Otago/Southland, for instance, offers a serene environment away from the crowds. Here, you can experience untouched forests, hidden waterfalls, and a rugged coastline, making it a perfect escape for nature lovers.


    New Zealand in December is a traveler's paradise. The country comes alive with vibrant festivals, stunning landscapes, and a plethora of activities. Whether you're looking to relax on a beach, hike through pristine forests, or delve into the local culture, New Zealand has it all. 

    And if you're considering a road trip, why not rent a caravan? Check out for some fantastic options. Happy travels!

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