January is the most popular month for visitors to New Zealand. As the time of the main summer break for schools and businesses it is also the busiest. The fine summer weather makes it a great time to experience the best of the New Zealand outdoors.
January is the middle of summer in January in New Zealand and it is the month with (usually) the highest temperatures. In the North Island the daily maximum average is around 25 C (77 F) and the minimum is around 12 C (54 F).
However it can appear much warmer due to the humidity; January can often be quite rainy and this adds a lot of moisture to the air, especially in Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel. However, there are also many great summer days which see hordes of New Zealanders at their favorite beach.
The South Island is slightly cooler than the North Island with a daily maximum and minimum around 22 C (72 F) and 10 C (50 F). Certain areas such as Queenstown, Christchurch and parts of Canterbury can experience much higher temperatures, however, often into the mid 30s.
And of course remember to protect yourself from the sun. The levels of glare and ultraviolet radiation are amongst the highest in the world. Always ensure you have a good pair of sunglasses and a high-strength sunscreen (factor 30 or above).
Pros of Visiting New Zealand in January
- Summer weather: This is the height of the New Zealand summer so it's amongst the best times to enjoy the New Zealand outdoors.
- Beaches and Watersports: If it's anything to do with the sea, January is the time. You will find locals and visitors alike enjoying all sorts of watery fun, including sailing, fishing, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, waterskiing and diving.
- Holiday atmosphere: From Christmas Day until the end of January is the summer break for most New Zealanders. Although kiwis are a relaxed and friendly bunch at any time of the year they're even happier when they are on holiday.
Cons of Visiting New Zealand in January
- The crowds: All of the schools and many offices and factories are closed for January (although most businesses reopen around the middle of the month). This means that the holiday spots are crowded with holiday makers. If you're not fond of crowds this may not be your favorite month; you might want to postpone your trip to February where everything is much quieter and often the weather is even better. For actual New Zealand school holiday dates visit here.
- Accommodation: This can be difficult to find, especially around the New Year and in the first half of the month. It is essential to book ahead.
- Tourist attractions are busy: Queues will be nothing like those in Europe, but you can expect a lot of people at the major tourist places and activities. Again, booking ahead is advisable if at all possible.
- Prices: Of course, being the high holiday season with accommodation at a premium, you can expect that prices of everything travel related are at their highest during January.
What's On in January: Festivals and Events
January is a busy month for activities and events in New Zealand.
New Year: Most New Zealanders like to celebrate the arrival of the New Year at a party or social gathering.
There is also usually a public celebration in towns and cities throughout the country, with the largest being in Auckland and Christchurch.
Other Festivals and Events During January:
- Highland Games and Tartan in the Park, Waipu, Northland
- Tall Ships Regatta, Russell, Bay of Islands
- Bay of Islands Sailing Week, Bay of Islands
- Auckland International Buskers Festival, Auckland
- Auckland Anniversary Weekend Festivities
- Rhythm and Vines, Gisborne
- Pinot Noir New Zealand Festival, Wellington
- Twizel Salmon and Wine Festival
- Alexandra Craft Beer, Food and Wine Festival, Alexandra, Central Otago
- Summerdaze Festival, Queenstown and Wanaka, Central Otago
- Challenge Wanaka Triathlon, Wanaka, Central Otago