October in New Zealand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Spring celebrations are in full swing this month

Lupine Layers

Jonathan Chiang / Scintt / Getty Images

October lands in the middle of spring in New Zealand, making it one of the best times to see its two islands covered in lush ferns and violet lupins, or to take advantage of the final month of the beloved ski season. Although the days get continually warmer and sunnier throughout the month, October can be quite rainy and subject to spring storms, especially on the North Island. The weather is volatile throughout the country this time of year, so be sure to keep an eye on the forecasts if you plan to spend time exploring beaches and hiking New Zealand's famous trails.

New Zealand Weather in October

With average highs ranging between 61 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit (16 and 21 degrees Celsius) and average lows lingering around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), the temperature in October is usually tolerable, but strong winds and sudden storms can put a damper on otherwise pleasant days. The capital city of Wellington experiences the best weather throughout the month, though it welcomes about 15 days of rainfall and is known for being the windiest city in the country, having experienced gusts of up to 133 miles per hour in October some years ago.

Destination Average High Average Low Average Rainfall
Auckland 64 F (18 C) 52 F (11 C) 3.9 inches
Rotorua 64 F (18 C) 48 F (9 C) 4.4 inches
Wellington 59 F (15 C) 49 F (9 C) 4.5 inches
Christchurch 63 F (17 C) 43 F (6 C) 2.1 inches
Mount Cook 58 F (14 C) 39 F (4 C) 18.9 inches
Queenstown 60 F (16 C) 39 F (4 C) 2.6 inches

What to Pack

Because the weather is so unpredictable, you'll need to pack for winter, spring, and summer conditions. You may encounter both cold, rainy days and too-warm-for-long-sleeves weather during your trip. The ideal spring packing list includes clothing that is easily layered—think short-sleeves, pullovers, zip-up sweaters, a light jacket, and raincoat—plus an umbrella and waterproof shoes (especially hiking boots). Try to bring all the outdoor gear you may need as buying it in New Zealand can be very expensive.

October Events in New Zealand

There are usually a few school holidays in October that call for family-friendly events and larger crowds at area attractions. While you can always spend your time exploring Auckland art galleries, golfing at coastal resorts, trekking through the countryside, or tasting local wine, a community gathering can add a sense of festivity to the trip. Many events have been canceled or altered in 2020, so check the websites of event organizers for updated information.

  • Auckland Heritage Festival: This annual celebration honors the rich cultural heritage of Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) with a variety of talks, tours, and kid-friendly programming across the city from late September to early October. In 2020, some of the events will take place virtually.
  • Bay of Islands Wine and Food Festival: On a Saturday in early October, the "It!" festival brings wine, food, and acclaimed local bands to the Village Green in Paihia in the Bay of Islands. 2020's festival has been postponed to early 2021.
  • First Light Wine and Food Festival: This North Island festival brings together winemakers from around the country (and globe) for a celebration of vino on Labour Sunday, October 25, 2020.
  • Taranaki Spring Garden Festival: You can explore brilliant gardens in full bloom, learn from professionals via specialized workshops, take a guided tour, and enjoy a long lunch surrounded by flora at the Taranaki Spring Garden Festival from October 30 to November 8, 2020.
  • World of Wearable Arts Show (WOW): Wellington welcomes fashion designers from around the world to present some of their best and most creative work via a series of themed shows. The 2020 event has been moved back and will run from December 12 to February 14.

October Travel Tips

  • With October being the shoulder season for tourism, you're sure to find great deals on flights and accommodations if you book far enough in advance.
  • The earlier you arrive in October for skiing, the more likely you are to find good-quality slopes with fresh powder. By the end of the month, most resorts and slopes are closed for the season.
  • Labour Day is a national holiday that takes place on October 26, 2020. Many local businesses, government offices, and even some attractions will be closed in celebration. You can also expect bigger crowds at destinations and events throughout the weekend as local kids will be on holiday from school.
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