September marks the beginning of spring (September through November) in New Zealand with the weather warming and sunnier days. Signs of new life are everywhere—trees leafing out, flowers blooming, and millions of baby lambs dot the countryside (there are more than ten sheep for every person in the country).
The ski fields in both the North and South Islands are still operating and September is a great month to enjoy the snow. It's still a bit cool to swim at the beaches, but days can be pleasantly warm for walking and exploring the coast. It's a popular season for white-water rafters as melting snow increases river levels.
Be prepared for rain as well, however, especially on the North Island, where unexpected cold fronts can still pass across the country.
New Zealand Weather in September
Average temperatures and weather vary with the temperatures in the north being warmer than in the south, and ski areas, which will be at a higher elevation, will be even colder still. Average daytime temperatures during spring range between 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius) in the north to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) in the south.
September average high and low temperatures for key New Zealand cities shows this regional variation:
- Aukland: 62 F (17 C) / 48 F (9 C)
- Rotorua: 58 F (14 C) / 42 F (6 C)
- Tauranga: 62 F (17 C) / 46 F (8 C)
- Wellington: 57 F (14 C) / 46 F (8 C)
The weather isn't stable in September so you might find that crisp, sunny days can quickly change to cooler temperatures with spring showers.
What to Pack
Given the season's unpredictability, you'll want to pack clothing to prepare you for all sorts of weather and activities. Layers in the form of long-sleeve T-shirts (opt for technical, wicking fabrics), sweaters, and a pullover or waterproof jacket are always a good idea, as is an umbrella.
Walking shoes, and hiking boots if you will be following some trails on your spring vacation, are necessary for comfort. Take along a day pack where you can stow some water and an extra layer of clothing while you are out exploring or sightseeing. And, you'll be encountering sunshine, so take a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
If you are going to be in a larger city, you can wear "casual-dressy" clothing to dinner but, in general, New Zealanders keep things laid back and simple.
If you have plans for activities such as skiing, white-water rafting, or golf, you'll need to bring your activity-specific clothing and gear with you to supplement what is not included with your activity or available to rent locally.
September Events in New Zealand
September not only brings weather warm enough for outdoor activities, and events such as the Whitianga Scallop Festival, but some urban indoor festivals celebrating the arts are a draw for visitors.
- International Film Festival: The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) celebrates the world of film throughout New Zealand. The event, held August through September, takes place in theaters and venues in 13 towns and cities around the country and features carefully-curated full-length films, documentaries, and short films.
- New Zealand Fashion Week: Held in Aukland the end of August through the beginning of September, fashion week enables local and international designers to showcase and promote their collections to an international audience. During the NZ Fashion Weekend, the public can attend and catch the latest in contemporary styles.
- Whitianga Scallop Festival: Celebrating all things seafood in Whitianga, Coromandel, North Island is the annual Scallop Festival, which is a great way to sample the local fruits of the sea and learn about the area's maritime heritage. The event entertains visitors with live bands, seafood cooking classes, and chef demonstrations.
- World of Wearable Arts Awards Show (WOW) opens in Wellington the end of September. The World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards Competition is an internationally renowned design competition that attracts entries from over 40 countries each year and includes a range of innovative, wearable art forms. WOW showcases the best of these creations in a spectacular show seen by thousands over a period of three weeks.
- Wellington Spring Festival: In Wellington, join in and celebrate spring by viewing the parade, shopping the arts and crafts booths, and taking in the art show.
- See Lambs and Calves: In the middle of Aukland, in Cornwall Park, there is a real working farm that you can visit. Lambing and calving are taking place through early September and after the little ones are strong enough they will be moved to areas where they are more visible to the public (usually by the end of September).
September Travel Tips
- New Zealand's school holidays start toward the end of September so early in the month is less crowded and an ideal time for touring.
- Parks are full of spring flowers so strolling through places like the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park or the Wellington Botanic Garden will provide plenty of photo ops.
- The ski fields on the North Island will still be open and the ski fields on the South Island and Central North Island provide some late-season skiing and snowboarding fun for visitors.