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New Zealand Weather in January

Tourism NZ Julian Apse

What is the weather like in January in New Zealand?

Heading to New Zealand in January? It’s the most popular month to visit New Zealand for a reason. It’s the height of summer with long warm days, a bit less rain (for New Zealand) and loads of fantastic activities to get stuck into. However, New Zealand experiences a few different climates across the country so you’re going to want to know about the New Zealand weather in January so you can plan accordingly.

Unlike in the Northern Hemisphere, January falls in the middle of summer in New Zealand. It’s the perfect time to do all those “summer” activities like water sports, going to festivals or even just kicking back in the sun with a glass of local wine. For more information on New Zealand’s climate, take a look at our guide to The New Zealand Seasons and Climate.

Travel Tips for visiting New Zealand in January

Here are a few handy tips to see you through your trip in January.

  • Apply and reapply high factor sunscreen. The intensity of the sun is no joke in New Zealand, even on a cloudy day you’re likely to get sunburn in summer
  • Not only is January a popular time for international visitors to travel New Zealand, but it also falls into the summer school holidays for the locals so be sure to book your activities, transport and accommodation as far in advance as possible to avoid disappointment
  • Make sure you carry insect repellent around with you. Summer is the high season for sandflies, which can leave itchy bites
  • Carry an extra layer of clothing with you when you’re out and about. Even in January, the weather can change suddenly and when the sun goes behind a cloud you can really feel the temperature drop!
  • Want to avoid the crowds? New Zealand has some amazing destinations a little off the beaten track where you’ll get the benefits of the summer weather without the crowds. Try Taranaki, Eastland (Gisborne) and Southland.

See 10 Essential New Zealand Travel Tips for more awesome tips!

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Typical Temperatures in January

If warm weather is what you’re looking for when coming to New Zealand then January is the perfect month by being right in the middle of summer. Temperatures can get as high as 30°C and reaching lows of only around 12°C. Because New Zealand experiences slightly different climates around the country, here are the average temperatures for each area of New Zealand.

Northern New Zealand (Northland, Auckland and Tauranga) – 20°C / 68°F

Central North Island (Hamilton, Taupo and Rotorua) – 18°C / 64°F

South-West North Island (New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington) – 18°C / 64°F

Eastern North Island (Gisborne, Napier and Wairarapa) – 20°C / 68°F

Northern South Island (Blenheim and Nelson) – 18°C / 64°F

Western South Island (Westport, Hokitika and Milford Sound) – 16°C / 59°F

Eastern South Island (Kaikoura, Christchurch and Timaru) – 16°C / 61°F

Inland South Island (Lake Tekapo, Queenstown and Alexandra) – 14-18°C / 57-64°F

Southern New Zealand (Dunedin and Invercargill) – 14°C / 57°F

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Other weather patterns in January

The weather in January is a lot more predictable and consistent compared to other months of the year. Usually, there will be a long period of sunny spells but rain will happen occasionally in most areas of New Zealand. The daylight hours are long in January with the sunrise around 6am and sunset around 9pm.

Rainfall in January

Although New Zealand experiences rain at any time of year, January is where you’ll find the driest weather or at least for most of the country. In January, the West Coast, especially Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park, receives the most amount of rainfall out of the entire year. Because there are different climates throughout New Zealand, here’s a list of the average rainfall in each area in January.

Northern New Zealand (Northland, Auckland and Tauranga) – 90mm

Central North Island (Hamilton, Taupo and Rotorua) – 80mm

South-West North Island (New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wellington) – 70mm

Eastern North Island (Gisborne, Napier and Wairarapa) – 50mm

Northern South Island (Blenheim and Nelson) – 70mm

Western South Island (Westport, Hokitika and Milford Sound) – 180-700mm

Eastern South Island (Kaikoura, Christchurch and Timaru) – 40mm

Inland South Island (Lake Tekapo, Queenstown and Alexandra) – 30mm

Southern New Zealand (Dunedin and Invercargill) – 70mm

Tourism NZ Miles Holden

Best places to visit in January

Where’s not good to visit in January? However, if you need a bit of inspiration for your January itinerary, here are a few destinations that are especially great to visit in summer.

Gisborne – After kicking off the year with the Rhythm & Vines Festival, Gisborne is great to stick around for surfing, wine tasting, exploring waterfalls and even the world’s longest natural waterslide.

Northland – The northern end of the North Island experiences the warmest temperatures so it’s a great place to head if you like all things summer: beaches, water activities and camping!

Taranaki – Surf at the beach one minute then hike around the slopes of Mt Taranaki the next. The Taranaki region has the best of mountain and coastal activities all in one place.

Waiheke Island – Auckland’s off-shore island is packed with beaches and vineyards which is a great place to check out in summer.

Nelson Lakes National Park – Mountains, lakes, forest… Nelson Lakes National Park is a great place to experience the wilderness. As it’s a less popular national park than others, it’s the ideal place to escape the crowds.

For events and festivals to check out in February, see New Zealand in February.

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January Packing List

Here are a few essentials to pack, especially if you are travelling New Zealand in January.

  • High factor sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Cap or sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimwear
  • Rainjacket
  • Hiking shoes
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • One warm layer

For more things to add to your packing list, see 15 Essentials to Pack for New Zealand.

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