New Zealand in August: The Coldest Month of the Year

August marks the tail end of the winter season in New Zealand and is also the coldest month of the year, along with July. Rainfall is still fairly regular in the areas around Northland and Auckland and still feature heavy rainfall totals.

The further south you travel in New Zealand, the colder it tends to be, so the areas around Queenstown and Wanaka will be significantly colder than Auckland and Wellington.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola
Skyline Queenstown Gondola

August is also the ideal time for those travellers looking to save money on flight booking and accommodations because this is the shoulder season of tourism in New Zealand. 

Weather in  New Zealand in August 

While the worst of the winter weather may have passed by the end of August, it is still very much the winter season.

  • The humidity and the high rainfall in many regions of the North Island, around Northland and Auckland, mean that this part of the country regularly is warmer than other parts of the country but faces higher than average amounts of rainfall.

  • Comparatively, the South Island experiences much drier conditions and way less rainfall than regions like Auckland and Northland. 
Auckland
Auckland

  • The South Island also experiences far fewer rainfall than the North Island because  most of that precipitation in the mountains turns into snow. Temperatures around the country during August are slightly warmer than they were in July.

  • Regions around Northland regularly feature temperatures exceeding 15°C during day time highs but the constant rain makes it difficult to go out and about. 

  • Temperatures in the more inland cities on the North Island like Taupo tend to be colder and average daily highs are recorded at 11 °C. Further South, the temperatures become colder and in towns like Christchurch, daily recorded highs are around 12°C.

  • Other cities in the South Island like Queenstown tend to get even colder with daily high temperatures being recorded at 10°C. The snow billowing during the winds will make it feel even colder than the recorded temperatures.
Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo

  • While the rest of the South Island remains quite frigid during the month of August, the ‘Top of the South’, regions such as Nelson and Golden Bay see much better weather than the rest of the country.

  • While recorded temperatures may not exceed 12°C, the relative lack of humidity means that chances of clear and sunny winter skies are far more likely to be seen here rather than in other parts of the country. 

Where to Go in New Zealand in August

Skiers and snowboarders will relish the chance to visit the ski fields around the country to take advantage of huge amounts of snow that’s sure to be dumped down on these mountains.

North Island

  • The North Island is known for its ski fields around the Tongariro National Park but generally, tourism is limited in August during this time because of the poor weather conditions. The regions around Taupo and Rotorua, however, are frequently visited even during this time, and the hot springs that can be found plentifully around this region are better experienced now than during the warmer months. 

South Island

Coronet Peak Ski Fields
Coronet Peak Ski Fields
  • The South Island is where most of the winter sport action is concentrated during August. Coronet Peak bursts into life and plays host to several skiing and snowboarding competitions throughout the month. The ski fields around Queenstown, Wanaka, and Canterbury become filled with mostly international tourists to New Zealand. 

  • Visitors should be aware that driving up to these ski fields in the South Island may be dangerous and that if you are self-driving, that necessary safety precautions like lining your tires with snow chains, be undertaken before the journey starts. The roads linking Queenstown to the rest of the South Island’s West Coast can be particularly dangerous so take extra care while driving down this road. 
Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park Frenchman Bay

  • The northern regions of the South Island experience, and as a result there are lots of tourist activities that can be done during August. The increased hours of sunlight also make sightseeing activities like taking boat cruises around the Marlborough Sounds or trekking around the Abel Tasman National Park much more pleasurable experiences.

Events in New Zealand in August

Most of the month’s events surround the South Island and its winter wonderland environment.

Winter Games
Snowboarder at Winter Games
  • One of the largest and most significant festivals that takes place in New Zealand during August is during the Winter Games that takes place in Queenstown every two years. The competition invites the country’s premier snow athletes to take part in what is traditionally the curtain-raiser for the year’s snow-sport season.
     
  • August is also particularly notable for being host to some of New Zealand’s biggest food festivals and is sure to excite any keen foodie that is travelling to this part of the world! The Auckland Fried Chicken Festival comes to town in August. For one day only, the country’s finest chicken establishments come together in Auckland’s CBD to serve up their best hot and fried chicken dishes. 
Kapiti Coast
Kapiti Coast

  • August is also when the Neighbourhood Noise 2020 is held on the Kapiti Coast of the North Island. The festival brings together some of the most dynamic and exciting local musical talents and provides a platform where creators and listeners can connect with each other. 

  • August holds in store the New Zealand Fashion Week for the budding fashionistas out there. Stated to take place in Aotea Square and Auckland Town Hall from the 28th to the 30th of August, new collections from New Zealand’s most pioneering and innovative designers will be showcased. Premium bars and sophisticated restaurants ensure that all the pre and post-show hangs will be done in style befitting a national fashion show. 

  • Drive-in movie theatres have become tokens of a sepia-tinted past but the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland aims to bring it into today’s world. Every August, MOTAT screens much-loved and popular classic movies for two nights inside its sprawling Aviation Display Hall. Food trucks will be found around the museum to ensure that nobody goes hungry and that great food is only a stone’s throw away. 
MOTAT
MOTAT

What to Pack for New Zealand in August

While the Kiwi winter in August may not be as fierce as it was in July, it is essential to pack warm, waterproof, and protective clothing as an important part of your luggage. There will hardly be any need for summery tees or shirts, besides as loungewear.

  • Woollen beanies, socks, and sweaters will be especially appreciated during the cold winter nights on the South Island especially. 

  • Waterproof gloves and boots will also be hugely beneficial if you plan on going out to trek and tramp along the walking trails.

  • Winter clothing can also be bought in New Zealand at most stores and skiing equipment and clothing can even be rented so that you don’t have to lug heavy equipment and clothing all the way. 

  • Waterproof clothing can be especially important in Auckland in particular as the city experiences most of the year’s rainfall during this time, and August and July is regularly known to be the wettest month in the whole year in New Zealand, so be sure to pack accordingly.

  • August is particularly known for how unpredictable the weather is so be sure to prepare for all eventualities and definitely for lots of rain!

This post was published by Ken Chiramel

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