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New Zealand in July

My son is graduating from high school. His dream trip is to NZ to see Hobbiton. This is truly the best time for our family as it is usually our summer vacation month in terms of time off. However, I was told this is not a good time to see NZ at all because it’s winter and it’s a rainy season. I’ve just looked at the weather record, it doesn’t look as bad as I was told. It rains like FL, the lowest is in the 40s which is not too unbearable for us southerners. We do love countryside, roadtripping, hiking and experiencing the local living. So not sure if winter will not allow us to see the true beauty of NZ.

Do you think it’s really a waste of investment time and traveling cost to go to NZ in July? When it rains, does it rain for weeks or just a couple days at a time? We went to Ireland last summer and we got very lucky to have amazing sunshine the whole entire time we were there, while we did expect it would rain as it’s Ireland.

Love to hear your advice and even your suggested itinerary. Will want to see Australia as well during the 3 weeks time. How many days to spend in Australia and NZ?

Posted by
1036 posts

Almost all of Hobbiton is outside except for the Tavern and gift shop. The paths that you walk on are mostly dirt and take you up and down a hill. I really don’t think it will be a pleasant experience if it is rainy and cold. Fortunately, it started raining just as we finished walking and had reached the gift shop. If you do end of going and have a choice of days to go, definitely try to avoid the rain if at all possible. Have you gone on their website to see their hours of operation? They might limit the days they are open in their winter.

If it were me, I would not go to New Zealand in the winter unless you are a winter sport enthusiast and then I would head to Queenstown on the South Island.

Posted by
6033 posts

Hobbiton is on the North Island which is a bit warmer than the South Island. It will normally be mild, lows around 40 F and highs around 60 F but July is the rainiest month and not the best for outdoor hiking type activities. However that's just an average and there's always the chance that you'll get lucky and have dry weather. It will be colder and lots of snow at the higher altitudes on the South Island. Personally I wouldn't spend that much time and money going at that time of year but, on the other hand, there will be fewer other tourists and that's not all bad. Lots of people deliberately travel in the off-season for just that reason.

Posted by
15573 posts

I have been to New Zealand twice, both times in July. Yes I went to ski. That said, you had to drive up steep mountain roads to get to the snow level on the south island. The lower areas along the lakes in Queenstown and Wanaka were quite pleasant, enough so that you could golf if you wanted too. I'd compare it to the climate of northern California in winter.

Posted by
4128 posts

We did the NZ north island and Hobbiton in 2018 during early April. It was very chilly at night, and nice during the day. Sorry, I would not want to go in the dead of Winter.

Most tours of NZ will take two weeks for the north and south island. If you do Australia, remember it is a huge country. We have been to Australia twice and love it. Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Cairns (great barrier reef) are amazing, but you would need a minimum of three weeks to do that.

Posted by
1701 posts

"Do you think it’s really a waste of investment time and traveling cost to go to NZ in July?"
Absolutely not - there's never a bad season to visit NZ.
The country is roughly the same size as the state of California, with the north island being the more tropical and things getting progressively colder the further south you go. Daily highs that time of year in Auckland are pushing 60 deg., with overnight lows in the mid 40's. It is, however, one of the rainiest months of the year - think the Pacific Northwest in January. Think Goretex. I'd minimize my time there at that time of year.
The south island, on the other hand, will be colder but relatively drier. Queenstown in particular sees daily highs in the upper 30's and overnight lows in the mid 20's. Not bad at all if you're dressed for it. Most of the low altitude hiking trails will be open but you won't be able to make your way up into the mountains. Not sure why - maybe the Southern Alps block most of the precipitation from moving further east, but rain typically isn't a lingering problem there at any time of year.
The once beautiful city of Christchurch was still rebuilding from the 2011 earthquakes when we visited a year ago - ie lots of construction going on in the city center - so I'd give it a miss, but the Banks peninsula to the east, and the beautiful little French themed town of Akaroa are both terrific. The Otago peninsula to the south and the university city of Dunedin are also worth a look.
There are tons of things to see and do in the vicinity of Queenstown - you wouldn't go amiss by spending at least a week there. I'd also suggest a couple of nights in Te Anau which is the jumping off point for excursions to either Milford or Doubtful Sound.
It would be a shame to travel all that way and not spend at least a few days in Sidney - the most beautiful city on earth for our money. There are direct flights from Queenstown, so you could string together a very nice multi-city flight plan by flying into Auckland and flying home from Sidney.
Go for it, by all means. You won't regret it.

Posted by
11677 posts

Aren't most of the Lord of the Rings sites on the North Island? You could easily spend a week to ten days exploring there, including Maori culture and volcanic sights. The North Island is the same latitude as California, stretching from Los Angeles to Napa wine country, and the climate is similar. Would you visit California in winter? We do. Of course it will rain a bit, but you can prepare for that. We had three straight days of rain when we hiked the Milford Track in the height of summer ( January), but it was still beautiful and enjoyable.

I suggest you limit your visit to the North Island, and not try to see all of New Zealand.

Then use the remaining 10 days to 2 weeks to explore Australia---Sydney, Brisbane, Great Barrier Reef, etc. My husband took his teen daughters to Oz in July a few years back ( he had a meeting to attend) and they enjoyed the lack of crowds and cooler weather. They took the boat out to the reef and swam and snorkeled even though it was winter. That part of Australia is comparable to Baja California in latitude.

Posted by
1701 posts

There are LOTR and Hobbit film locations scattered all around NZ, but the spectacular mountain scenery you saw in the films is on the South Island - in particular the area in and around Queenstown, Te Anau, and Aoraki/Mt Cook. There are a number of guides featuring directions to the significant sites on both islands that can be purchased on Amazon. If you're really into LOTR lore you might want to invest in one as you plan your trip.
If you decide to fold more of Australia into your itinerary be aware that Qantas operates a low cost airline called Jetstar that provides spartan but economical flights around the country. Given the size of the continent I'd suggest minimizing the running around else you'll spend a lot of your time in transit, but to connect Sydney with Cairns (for the GBR) is easily done at a reasonable price. And yes, snorkeling on the Reef is one of those bucket list items - it's beautiful.
By using Jetstar you could craft an interesting itinerary to include Sydney, Ayers Rock, and Cairns and not run yourselves ragged in the process.
If you're interested in exploring Ayers Rock be sure to specify it as your flight destination rather than the outback town of Alice Springs which is about a 6 hour drive away.

Posted by
98 posts

A big difference between Ireland and NZ in July is the number of hours of daylight you have in which you can explore. Dublin, Ireland offers roughly 16-17 hours of daylight each day versus 9.5-10 hours in Matamata, NZ (Hobbiton's location). So you will want to consider that.

Dublin
https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/ireland/dublin?month=7&year=2019

Matamata
https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/@6235764?month=7&year=2019

That said, if the Northern Hemisphere's summer is the only time you can go to NZ, I am sure that with a positive/adventurous/informed attitude, you can still have a good time. If your son's top priority is Hobbiton, I highly recommend booking the Evening Banquet Tour.

https://www.hobbitontours.com/en/our-tours/evening-banquet-tour/

Posted by
1 posts

Hi, as a New Zealander I can probably give you a reasonably accurate picture of the weather here in July. While it is mid winter, we still have plenty of clear fine days. August is the wettest time. Comparing a New Zealand winter to an Irish summer is all about the temperatures and the rain. We don't have a 'rainy' season - and it won't rain for days usually - but you just have to plan for days when it does! (like anywhere) Ireland, (like Scotland), has rain and plenty of it, more than New Zealand has for sure! Hobbiton is located in farming country outside a small quiet country town and you will enjoy driving through the country roads to get there. However, the landscape will be different from spring/summer as the deciduous trees will be quite bare. I think the landscape is more vibrant in spring, summer and even autumn personally, with the leafy trees.
There's plenty of outdoor activities in the North Island, including very good skiing, native bird sanctuary's, and small islands off the coast that are easy to reach. Both Islands have their distinctions in terms of landscape and weather. It is colder and drier in the east of the Sth Island - wet on the west coast. The landscape is less green and more open. but as already suggested, don't try and cram both Island's in if you haven't much time
So, as others have suggested, pack layers, thermals, a jacket and a light rain coat and good footwear for a visit in july...or wait till after Christmas and bring your swimming togs and a sunhat!
Australia is certainly the place for a 'summer holiday' in winter - which is why lots of kiwis head across the ditch in July. Not including Melbourne (which is my favourite city - very cosmopolitan) and is on a par, weather wise, with the North Island.
But we don't have anything that will eat you, or bite you or scare you...except for the drivers :)

Posted by
4 posts

North Island: Rotorua's thermal wonderlands. Even if you've seen Volcanic activity before, this is a lot of fun. I loved Waiotapu and Waimangu. I also liked kayaking in Lake Taupo.

South Island: Hiking in Mt Cook, stargazing in Lake Pukaki. The number of stars I saw in the sky, I couldn't breathe for a while.. If you want to do a cruise, do the Milford Sound one. No one can tell you what certain experiences will be like - it depends on what you like. Personally I prefer cruises where I'm seeing something specific (Like Milford). But otherwise, I was happy being out on my own.

Posted by
2 posts

I'm also planning a trip to New Zealand in July, 2019, with 3 boys, ages 19-22. High energy, outdoor activities needed. Flying in and out of Auckland, staying for 10 days. Thinking of flying to Queenstown for 4-5 days and skiing, but want other activities in and around Queenstown. Thinking of using Auckland as home base for second half of trip, not sure which are best activities within day-trip driving distance of Auckland that involve outdoor activity, especially in potential rain.