15 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Low Seasons in New Zealand© MarlboroughNZ
15 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Low Seasons in New Zealand

30 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Low Seasons in New Zealand

© MarlboroughNZ
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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Why the Shoulder and Off (Low) Seasons are the Best Times to Travel New Zealand

What? The low season? How ludicrous! Yes, that’s right. There are so many advantages to travelling New Zealand during the shoulder/low season that you can’t afford to ignore it! Should it be for planning when to visit the country for a quick trip or planning how to split your time between working and travelling during your working holiday, you should definitely take the shoulder and off-seasons in New Zealand into consideration. But before we dive into it, let’s just quickly recap what are the low season, shoulder seasons and high season so we are clear on what we are talking about.

When is the Low Season in New Zealand?

This is the time of the year when the least amount of tourists are coming to New Zealand. The low season is the New Zealand winter (June-August).

When are the Shoulder Seasons in New Zealand?

Autumn (March-May) and spring (September-November) are considered the shoulder seasons in New Zealand. This means that tourist numbers are lower than during the high season and higher than during the low season.

When is the High Season in New Zealand?

New Zealand’s high season is summer (December-February). This is the busiest time in the country with international tourists and local tourists alike trying to make the most of their holidays. According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), international arrivals in New Zealand in summer are twice the number of the winter season.

Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Low Seasons in New Zealand

1. Everything is Much Cheaper

From car and campervan rental rates to bus passes to accommodation, prices plummet in the shoulder and off-season giving travellers a chance to make the most of their hard-earned money. Save yourself some precious gold and spend it on what matters: once-in-a-lifetime adventures, such as the 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List.

Check out more ways to save money while travelling using the 20 Ways to Save Money When Travelling in New Zealand.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

2. New Zealand is Stunning During Spring and Autumn

With the world-famous lupins (probably the most Instagrammed flower in the world) blossoming in November, hundreds of other flowers in full bloom throughout the season, lambs leaping all around the fields between July and October and birds singing their lungs out, spring is the perfect season for a picturesque trip in New Zealand.

In autumn, New Zealand becomes all the more dramatic, the waterfalls are raging and the skies are braided with intricate cloud formations. The forests are more colourful than ever making you feel like you are truly stepping into Middle-earth and turning every single hike into a real adventure.

Check out the best places to visit during the shoulder seasons in the 10 Best Places to Visit in Spring in New Zealand and the 10 Best Places to Visit in the Autumn in New Zealand.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

3. New Zealand is Epic in Winter

The winter season in the Southern Hemisphere is all about New Zealand! 20+ ski fields in the country attract all the white powder addicts looking for their fix between July and September. On top of world-class skiing and snowboarding, you can do most activities in New Zealand that you are able to do in summer, including bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving, hiking, mountain biking and the list goes on!

Check out the 10 Best Places to Visit in Winter in New Zealand and get pumped for skiing with our Ski Season Guide to New Zealand.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand© Martyn Williams - Tourism New Zealand

4. The Weather is Still Great

One of the main misconceptions is that when travelling in the shoulder and low seasons in New Zealand you are sure to get bad weather. In fact, New Zealand’s weather and climate are unpredictable and vary no matter what time of year you travel. In other words, you’ll be treated to torrential rainfall or clear sunny days in summer and winter alike. Even if you do get bad weather, New Zealand has heaps of awesome activities to do under the rain and we have you covered with our “Rainy Day” articles for every single town and city in the country.

The best thing you can do about the New Zealand weather is to be prepared with the right clothing. Check out our New Zealand Packing List: What to Pack for New Zealand to get started.

Pexels© Pexels

5. Avoid the Crowds

In the heat of summer, some places can get pretty crazy. We are thinking of the likes of Lake Tekapo, Milford Sound and Hot Water Beach to only name a few. New Zealand is a small country and can only comfortably accommodate a few. Treat yourself to a peaceful experience and travel away from the crowds by visiting in the low and shoulder seasons. That feeling of serenity in front of an unreal landscape is like no other.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand© Zhi Yuen, Adrift Outdoors - Visit Ruapehu

6. Avoid the Long Summer School Holidays

In the same spirit as point #5, you’ll get a much better experience travelling New Zealand if you are not surrounded by a bunch of kids playing on the beach or squabbling in the room next door. New Zealand’s main school holiday lasts six weeks and most public holidays fall during summer, i.e. the high season. So avoid it and travel in peace! Note, however, there is a two-week school holiday at the end of April, July and October.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand© Pxhere

7. Meet More Locals

In summer, locals are more engrossed in spending time with family and taking holidays to neighbouring Pacific Islands or to summer hotspots in New Zealand, than spending time with visitors. You’ve got much more chance to meet, spend time, share a meal or a drink, and even stay with locals during the shoulder and low seasons.

Find out how else you can meet locals in New Zealand in the 5 Ways to Stay with Locals in New Zealand.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand© westcoast.co.nz

8. Meet More Wildlife

Admittedly, you can see wildlife all year round in New Zealand. Regardless, the shoulder seasons offer additional benefits for nature lovers. For instance, while sperm whales can be seen year-round in Kaikoura, October to March is the best time for orcas and June to August is the best time to see humpback whales. In Dunedin, albatross at the Royal Albatross Centre come to shore to breed and build nests between September and November. The best season to see chicks, such as penguin chicks, starts in November.

Learn more about the amazing fauna found in New Zealand in 21 Animals and Birds Unique to New Zealand.

12 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Be More Impulsive and Follow Your Heart

Travelling in the shoulder and low seasons means that you do not have to have everything booked in advance. There are still spaces available almost anywhere in the country. So if you just fell in love with a place or met awesome like-minded travellers, you can go with the flow and change your plans. Shoulder and off seasons in New Zealand mean that your plans are flexible!

Pexels© Pexels

9. It is Much Cooler

So, you are travelling with a bunch of friends, crammed into a car, campervan or bus? Well, trust us on this one, you’ll appreciate some cooler climates. For anyone that has camped in the sun in summer, or driven a few hours under the heat in a full car, we salute you. We, however, choose the shoulder season.

Pixabay© Pixabay

10. There are Heaps of Fun Events Going On

New Zealand celebrates its winter seasons with a bunch of pretty awesome festivals and there is a lot going on in spring and autumn as well. For instance, WOMAD (March), Matariki (July), Wellington on a Plate (May), Russell Birdman (July), Wildfoods Festival (March), and the Oamaru Victorian Fete (November) are just some of the events you can enjoy in the shoulder and low seasons.

Don’t believe us? Then just take a look at the 5 Winter Festivals in New Zealand and The Top New Zealand Events & Festivals.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand© Scott Venning - Tourism New Zealand

11. Reduced Environmental Impact

Many tourist hotspots in New Zealand are only served by small neighbouring towns or settlements. If everyone visits at the same time, these small towns experience a huge strain on their infrastructure which, in turn, negatively impacts the surrounding environment. Visiting in the low or shoulder seasons is an easy and simple way to reduce your environmental impact. Team this notion with the 31 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in New Zealand and New Zealand will love you more for it!

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Low Seasons in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

12. Better Stargazing

Did you know that stargazing is much better in the low and shoulder seasons, particularly in winter? As it gets dark earlier than in summer, you don’t have to wait all night to see the vivid night skies of New Zealand. What’s more, the best time to see Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, is in the middle of winter.

We go into much more detail on why winter is the best time to see the stars in our guide, The Best Time to See the Milky Way in New Zealand.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Low Seasons in New Zealand© Unsplash

13. Better Service

While Kiwis are all smiles all year round, they are perhaps a little too overwhelmed in the high season to give every guest or patron the same superb service. Travel in the low season and you’ll find a better staff-to-visitor ratio, where local staff will be able to spend more time with you and even take the time to tell you more about the hidden gems nearby.

13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Low Seasons in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

14. You’ll Get More Chance to Get a Job Fast

This is an essential tip for working holidaymakers: although it is true that there tend to be more jobs advertised in summer, there are also exponentially more applicants for each job, making it harder to land a job in summer. In the ideal scenario, you’d get yourself a job in mid-spring, work through summer and travel in the shoulder and off-season to make the most of your time in New Zealand.

For more job-finding tips for working holidaymakers, head to How to Quickly Find a Job in New Zealand.

Pixabay© Pixabay

15. You Can Get Back Home for Xmas

Travelling in the shoulder and low seasons in New Zealand means that, if you time it right, you can spend Christmas at home with your family. We know that there is nothing more important to you than getting that hairy kiss from Nana when she gives you the ugliest sweater of the year for the third year in a row. Ah… a Christmas at home…

By the way, if you are looking to give it back to granny, check out our 10 Fun Gifts to Bring Back from New Zealand.

Pexels© Pexels

15 More Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Low Seasons

  1. Open Trails: Hike pristine trails with fewer hikers and clear vistas.
  2. Intimate Dining: Savor local cuisine in quieter, more relaxed restaurants.
  3. Unhurried Road Trips: Enjoy leisurely drives along scenic routes without traffic.
  4. Cultural Immersion: Attend workshops and activities with a focus on Maori culture.
  5. Ideal for Photography: Capture New Zealand’s beauty without people in your shots.
  6. Low Pollution: Breathe in the freshest air with fewer vehicles on the road.
  7. Quicker Travel Times: Spend less time in lines and waiting for transportation.
  8. Private Beaches: Enjoy serene shorelines with minimal beachgoers.
  9. Foliage Colours: Witness the stunning transformation of forests in autumn.
  10. Educational Opportunities: Engage with local experts with smaller group sizes.
  11. Uninterrupted Relaxation: Find peace and solitude in tranquil natural spots.
  12. Better Accommodations: Upgrade to more luxurious lodgings at affordable rates.
  13. Fewer Booking Restrictions: Experience more availability for your preferred activities and accommodations
  14. Quicker Booking: Secure your preferred accommodations and activities with ease.
  15. Personalised Service: Receive more attention from tour guides and staff.

More About the Shoulder and Low Seasons in New Zealand

That’s it for our list of reasons to travel in the shoulder and off (low) seasons in New Zealand. For more about planning the best time to visit Aotearoa, take a look at the following guides:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in When is the Best Time to Visit New Zealand?


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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