New Zealand in July: A Guide to New Zealand in the Winter

By the time July rolls around, there is no doubt as to which season we’re in and the winter has well and truly come into full force in New Zealand. Across the country, overnight blanketings of snow become more common and if the ski fields around the country haven’t been opened yet, they definitely will be by now. 

The North Island is characterized by cool and crisp daytime temperatures and brisk nights, interrupted by fairly regular intermittent showers of rain. The South Island becomes decidedly colder and nights become particularly wintry. July is officially on record the coldest month in the year, and the generally the further south in the country you head towards, the colder it will get. 

New Zealand in Winter
Christchurch in Winter

Weather in New Zealand in July 

Weather in July across New Zealand is decidedly wintry but even so, there are variations in the weather across different parts of the country.

  • Towards the northern reaches of the North Island, around Northland, locally known as the ‘Winterless North’, the subtropical and temperate climate of the region results in temperatures occasionally exceeding 15 °C area  feature, even in the middle of winter. 

  • Surrounding regions, like Auckland also face similar weather situations and daytime high temperatures are not too much different. However, while the temperature may not be too low, the chances of rainfall definitely are not.

  • Rain and humidity in the North Island are noted factors and regular rainfall in the region is to be expected, so be sure to pack warm and waterproof rain gear if you are planning on visiting this part of the country in July.
Karekare Beach in Winter
Karekare Beach in Winter
  • The further southbound you travel in New Zealand, towards the South Island, temperatures and climatic conditions change noticeable as while daytime temperatures may remain relatively similar to other regions of the North Island, the nights become much colder.

  • A result of the polar blasts that feature from the South Pole, and the presence of the Southern Alps mountain ranges, packing for a July vacation to the South Pole definitely requires some winter clothes. 
Southern Alps in Winter
Southern Alps in Winter
  • Coastal cities like Christchurch on the South Island tend to be marginally warmer than inland regions and temperatures vary from daytime highs of 12 °C to sub-freezing temperatures.

  • Frosting is common and in cities like Queenstown, while the highs may read around 10 °C, the billowing winds and gusts of snow will make the perceived temperature to be far lower. 

  • Towards the upper reaches of the South Island, in regions around Nelson, regularly noted to be the Kiwi city that receives the most amount of sunlight, regularly exceeds daily high temperature readings of 12 °C and is also known to be one of the drier regions of the country during this time. 

Where to Go in New Zealand in July

New Zealand in July is a skier’s paradise. Escaping the torrid heat of most countries to come to the cooler enclaves of the Kiwi backcountry is definitely something to be cherished.

  • The ski fields of the North Island tend to be located on dormant volcanoes, offering travellers pristine skiing conditions, along with fantastic photography opportunities. 

  • The ski fields of the central North Island region are prime ski grounds. It should be noted that July is the wettest time of year in the North Island so high precipitation in the areas around Auckland and Wellington will make it difficult to enjoy any outdoor activities.

  • However, both these cities have wonderful museums and galleries like the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand will make perfect escapes from the rain. 
Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand
Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand
  • Most of the North Island and regions in the South Island like Dunedin and Invercargill also get clouded by considerable rainfall so if dark and gloomy skies with overcast weather for most of the day doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, it would be wise to steer clear of these destinations.

  • However, other regions in the South Island like Wanaka, Queenstown, Nelson, and Golden Bay become prime wintertime travel destinations.
Cecil Peak, Queenstown
Cecil Peak, Queenstown
  • The ski fields around Wanaka and Queenstown are world-famous and Mount Hutt in particular are famous amongst locals for having some of the freshest and most fluffy powder snow.

  • The topmost section of the South Island is noted for having quite mild winters and still receive plenty of sunshine during July, making regions like Nelson, Golden Bay, and the Marlborough Sounds ideal travel destinations. 

  • The sunny disposition will also be perfect for sightseeing around the Marlborough Sounds and Golden Bay too! Dolphin and whale-watching tours setting off from the Bay of Islands or near Kaikoura will still be operating, unless the weather is atrociously bad.

  • Sightseeing tours of the Milford and Doubtful Sounds are both popular activities during July. 
Doubtful Sound
Doubtful Sound

Events in New Zealand in July

July is a notable season and there are plenty of winter-themed and other festivals that take place in New Zealand.

  • New Zealand has a special affinity with chocolate and the annual Cadbury Chocolate Carnival is held in Dunedin shows that special relationship. The Cadbury Jaffa Race features over 25,000 Jaffas (balls of orange candy coated in chocolate) being let loose down Baldwin Street in Dunedin, known to be the steepest street in Dunedin. 

  • The month of July is notable for being host to some of the most unique festivals in New Zealand. The North Island city of Russell in the Bay of Islands is the Birdman festival. This quirky festival is famous for the participants dressing up as birds and leaping off the Russell Wharf. 
Russell, New Zealand
Russell, New Zealand
  • July is also the month of the New Zealand International Film Festival and the festival begins in Auckland and moves from city to city across the country after it begins, so you may even be able to see it at whichever city you might be in. 

What to Pack for New Zealand in July

While the Kiwi winter swings into full force 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, July is regularly known to be the wettest month in the whole year in New Zealand, so be sure to pack accordingly.

This post was published by Ken Chiramel

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