I'm thinking of travelling to New Zealand from mid-August to mid-September 2011. I'm mainly interested into hiking, wildlife watching, and so on - no skiing or adventure sports. I intend to travel by bus and stay in hostels.
So my questions are:
- is it worth coming? I don't really mind the cold (I'm from Switzerland), but this would be a "once in my life" trip, and I'm a bit afraid of finding myself unable to do the stuff I like due to bad weather and closed places...
- are there specific areas that should be avoided at that time, because due to the climate they really wouldn't be interesting, or closed, and so ons?
- when they say that the North Island can be rainy at that time, does it mean that it rains for days without stopping, or that there are short rainfalls everyday like in Ireland?
Thank you very much for your help!
That's good to hear! You've got a great choice of place to travel. I'm pretty sure, you will really enjoy all outdoor activities and exploring the region. I can say that a travel by bus is exciting, you have still a much better transportation option through -snip- New Zealand rental car for a most convenient travel.
Yes, definitely it is really worth coming to New Zealand despite bad weather since there are things you can still do and enjoy (indoor).
Some areas maybe -- like beach and open parks.
It would really depend, not all time it rains... and if it does, there are times that it won't really last for the whole day.
Hope this information of mine can really help you and prepare you for staying at New Zealand.
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Stay away, simply the worst time to go walking. Unless you wish to go skiing. The North island will be wet, wet wet. It is the worst time to visit. It could rain for weeks at a time. It will go down to about 8-10 degrees, which for Europeans, may sound mild. It's not nice, very damp and depressing. I know, I live here. If you don't believe me, you could try looking at the Met Service weather history. I live here in Auckland it is soooooooooo depressing. That is the time of year when Kiwi's make up their minds to pack up and go and live in Australia.
August is actually my favorite time of the year to be in New Zealand. I'd fly into Christchurch, and bus straight for Lake Tekapo, where I'd stay for a week or two, sitting behind the big windows of the YHA, gazing out over the lake, reading books and drinking tea, hoping for snow to turn the already gorgeous place into a magical wonderland. Then on a sunny and non-windy day, I'd get a group of people together for a helicopter flight over the Southern Alps complete with glacier landing. A bit pricey, but unbelievably amazing. On a good day I'd hike up Mt. John for 360 degree views of infinity while sipping a huge cup of hot chocolate at the observatory cafe, and each sunset I'd be across the canal from the church of the good shepherd, waiting for sunset light to do its thing.
Then on to Queentown, a daytrip to Milford Sound, and along the west coast to the glaciers. Time of the year doesn't make much difference for how wet it is over there, and you might just luck out with catching a blue skied day.
But the thing is... I'm from the Netherlands, and snowy mountains are something really special for me. If this really would be a "once in a lifetime" trip for you, then I'd strongly recommend going sometime during January-April (summer/autumn) instead. Much better chance of good weather for long hikes; something like the Tongariro Crossing (a 7 hour hike across volcanic landscapes) really shouldn't be attempted in winter. (Also: there's no wildlife watching in New Zealand outside of bird spotting and whale watching; effectively all wild mammals are introduced and considered to be pests.) The scenery does tend to be most spectacular in winter, but there's far fewer good days to appreciate it, and it's still plenty of spectacular the rest of the year.
Thank you for the answers! Of course if I could I would go in summer (for New Zealand); but this is unfortunately the busiest time of the year in my job, and there's no way I can take a break - so it's in August or never, as far as I can see!
Well, I will think about it... at least now I have informations that will help me decide!