What is the Weather Like in December?
Travelling to New Zealand in December? Then you’ll need this quick guide to the New Zealand weather in December. December is a great time to travel in New Zealand as it’s the first month of summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. While this means the weather is generally good for road tripping around the country, it also means that everyone else is doing the same thing. Locals, in particular, use December for domestic holidays thanks to the long Christmas holiday period. Nevertheless, Christmas in New Zealand is an experience well worth having!
For more information on when to visit New Zealand, see When is the Best Time to Go Backpacking in New Zealand? You also might like our Month-by-Month Guide to the Best Places to Visit in New Zealand.
5 Tips for Travelling New Zealand in December
Here are a few handy tips so you’re ready to travel in New Zealand in December!
- Apply high factor sunscreen! New Zealand gets a hammering from UV rays due to the hole in the O-zone layer just between Australia and New Zealand so applying plenty of high-factor sunscreen is no joke
- Insect repellent is a must, especially when travelling the South Island in December
- Book your transport, accommodation and activities as soon as possible during this busy tourist season
- Expect many shops and services to be closed on the 24th, 25th and 26th of December due to the Christmas holidays
- It is illegal to drink in public places in urban areas so keep that in mind during the festive period and New Year’s Eve. Keep it in the bar!
For more tips, see the 10 Essential New Zealand Travel Tips.
Typical Temperatures in December
New Zealand experiences slightly different climates around the country. Take a look at the typical temperatures across the areas you will be visiting to get a more accurate idea of the typical temperatures in December in New Zealand.
Northern New Zealand (Northland, Auckland and Tauranga) – 18ºC (64ºF)
Central North Island (Hamilton, Taupo and Rotorua) – 15ºC (59ºF)
South-West North Island (New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington) – 15ºC (59ºF)
Eastern North Island (Gisborne, Napier and Wairarapa) – 18ºC (64ºF)
Northern South Island (Blenheim and Nelson) – 17ºC (62ºF)
Western South Island (Westport, Hokitika and Milford Sound) – 15ºC (59ºF)
Eastern South Island (Kaikoura, Christchurch and Timaru) – 16ºC (60ºF)
Inland South Island (Lake Tekapo, Queenstown and Alexandra) – 14ºC (57ºF)
Southern New Zealand (Dunedin and Invercargill) – 14ºC (57ºF)
Other Weather Patterns in December
While New Zealand experiences more frequent clearer days in December, it also experiences more strong hot northwesterly winds.
Rainfall in December
New Zealand experiences less rain than the rest of the year. However, some areas experience far more rainfall than others. Here are the average rainfall numbers for New Zealand in December.
Northern New Zealand (Northland, Auckland and Tauranga) – 90mm (3.5″)
Central North Island (Hamilton, Taupo and Rotorua) – 110mm (4″)
South-West North Island (New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington) – 90mm (3.5″)
Eastern North Island (Gisborne, Napier and Wairarapa) – 50mm (2″)
Northern South Island (Blenheim and Nelson) – 70mm (3″)
Western South Island (Westport, Hokitika and Milford Sound) – 200mm-650mm (8″-25.5″)
Eastern South Island (Kaikoura, Christchurch and Timaru) – 50mm (2″)
Inland South Island (Lake Tekapo, Queenstown and Alexandra) – 40mm-80mm (1.5″-3″)
Southern New Zealand (Dunedin and Invercargill) – 100mm (4″)
The Best Places to Visit in December
For all your sun-lovers, these are the best destinations to experience summer activities.
Abel Tasman National Park – this national park is famous for its pristine golden sand beaches.
Nelson – soak up the sun in the sunniest city in New Zealand.
Bay of Islands – hop on one of the many boat tours and explore the bay.
Bay of Plenty – Relax on the beaches lined with colourful pohutukawa trees (New Zealand Christmas trees).
For more places to visit and December events, see New Zealand in December.
December Packing List
Add these items to your December packing list for New Zealand!
- Light tops
- Light hiking pants (full length to protect you from sandflies)
- Light long-sleeve tops (again to protect from sandflies)
- Rain jacket
- High factor sunscreen
- Thermals (extra layers for day hikes or if you’re camping)
- Walking shoes
For more ideas on what to pack, see the Packing List for Summer in New Zealand and The Ultimate Packing List for an Extended Trip in New Zealand. Most important of all, check out our complete New Zealand Packing List.