Because New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere, July marks the middle of winter there. This is a great time to visit kiwi country as it's quiet in the off-season, and you're more likely to find affordable hotel rates. If you enjoy skiing, you may also want to hit one of the South Island's mountain resorts near Queenstown (although they can get crowded with locals on the weekends). Just keep in mind that with the colder weather, some seasonal restaurants and attractions may be closed, so plan accordingly.
Overall, New Zealand has a very moderate climate, with mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine year-round. July is the middle of winter in New Zealand and therefore on average the coldest month of the year. The temperature varies considerably across the length of the country, getting colder the further south you go. In July, the average temperatures range between 45 F and 55 F, with the South Island occasionally seeing temperatures in the 30s.
On the North Island, winter temperatures rarely dip below freezing, apart from the mountainous inland regions. However, there is higher rainfall in July, so you may want to be flexible or have backup options if you're planning outdoor activities.
The South Island is divided by the Southern Alps, which run between the east and west coasts. Snow is more common than rain here, making it an ideal place for skiing, snow sports, and other alpine activities.
What to Pack
Since July is wintertime in New Zealand, pack warm, waterproof gear as well as winter coats, and long-sleeved layers. If you intend on spending a lot of time outside, insulated under-armor or fleece leggings may come in handy. For a ski vacation, it would be smart to pack snow pants, waterproof coats and gloves, thick wool socks, and hats.
Best Things to See and Do
- North Island - New Zealand's North Island is more cosmopolitan, thanks to the large city of Auckland and the capital of Wellington. Snow-seekers should head to Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields in Tongariro National Park. Although they're both located on Mount Ruapehu—the highest peak on the North Island—each has very different difficulty levels. Whakapapa has a large area for beginners while Turoa is more advanced. If you'd rather relax than hit the slopes, check out Rotorua, a lakeside town known for its mineral hot springs, mud baths, and Polynesian pools. Here, you can see the Pohutu Geyser erupt up to 98 feet in the air, or check out the Māori village, which is home to the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and its traditional wood carving and weaving schools. For more cultural pursuits, don't miss Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand's national museum in Wellington.
- South Island: Treble Cone is the biggest ski area on the South Island, with 1,359 acres of land just outside of Queenstown. It features many night skiing runs for those who prefer the powder after dark. July is also a prime time for whale watching as humpback and sperm whales migrate north from the cool Antarctic waters to the coastal town of Kaikōura. Nature lovers can enjoy the hiking trails, waterfalls, and dense forests surrounding the Maruia Hot Springs resort in the Lewis Pass National Reserve.
Festivals and Events
There are many annual events that happen in July, including International Tartan Day in the small Scottish town of Waipu as well as Auckland's Matariki Festival, otherwise known as the Maori New Year.