The Weather and Climate in Queenstown, New Zealand

town on a hill beside a lake with fog and a sprinkling of snow

Tzu tao Lo / Getty Imagess

Queenstown, located in south-western Otago on the South Island and surrounded by mountains, experiences four distinct seasons. It's a popular ski destination in winter, and visitors may encounter snow at lower altitudes and in the mountains and ski fields. Come summer, the weather warms up but is still cooler than many other parts of New Zealand, even coastal Otago. Late spring and early autumn snow in the hills are relatively common—even a mid-summer dusting isn't unheard of! Its southern latitude means the days are pretty short in winter but very long in summer, with the sky remaining light until after 10 p.m. Here's what to expect from the weather in Queenstown in all seasons.

Fast Climate Facts

  • Hottest Months: January and February, (71 F / 22 C)
  • Coldest Month: July (28 F / -2 C)
  • Wettest Month: May (2.9 inches of rain / 74.9 mm)
  • Windiest Month: November (9.3 mi/h / 15 km/h)
  • Best Month for Hiking: February
  • Best Month for Skiing: July and August

Summer in Queenstown

Summer in New Zealand officially includes December, January, and February. Late November and early March can also feel quite summery, with warm temperatures and long daylight hours. In Queenstown in summer, the sun rises before 6 a.m. and doesn't set until after 9:30 p.m.

Queenstown is generally warm during the day and cooler at night. While temperatures can reach the low 70s F (20s C), the average temperature in summer is slightly cooler, at 59 degrees F (15 degrees C). Rainfall is low in early summer (December) and late summer (February) but is very high in January. If you've come from further north in New Zealand or Dunedin in coastal Otago, you might find summer in Queenstown quite cool, although the days are likely to be sunny and pleasant.

Summer in Queenstown is jam-packed with domestic and international tourists, especially during the New Zealand summer school holidays (late December up to early February). While you can't ski in summer, you can hike, mountain bike, paddle on the lake, tour the vineyards, and enjoy other outdoor adventure sports like white-water rafting, bungee jumping, paragliding, jet boating, and more. Queenstown is a resort town and offers a wide variety of accommodation, but this books out in advance in the summer months. Book as far ahead as you can if you plan to visit Queenstown in the summer.

What to Pack: A sweater, raincoat or umbrella, summer clothes as well as long pants, and swimming attire.

Autumn in Queenstown

Autumn in New Zealand includes March, April, and May. New Zealanders don't call this season the fall because most trees aren't deciduous in much of the country, and the leaves don't fall off the trees! But they do in the southern South Island, including Queenstown. Early April is the best time to see the pretty autumn colors in and around Queenstown in places like Arrowtown.

Autumn temperatures in Queenstown are usually warm during the day (at least in March and early April) and cold at night. In March, the daytime temperatures can be as high as 68 degrees F (20 degrees C), but they're much colder by May, at around 53 degrees F (12 degrees C).

Rainfall is low in March and April, but May is quite wet. It's the wettest month of the year because that precipitation turns to snow after May.

Autumn in Queenstown is generally less busy than the summer or winter, but there will still be a lot of domestic tourists during the Easter school holidays. Autumn is an excellent time to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and biking, where you can work up a sweat without the summer heat of the blazing sun.

What to Pack: A jacket, long-sleeved clothes, and a raincoat for late-autumn travel.

Winter in Queenstown

Winter and summer are peak seasons in Queenstown because of the nearby ski fields. In New Zealand, winter includes June, July, and August, although Queenstown can feel quite wintery in late autumn (May) and early spring (September). Queenstown sits at an elevation of 1,017 feet (310 meters), but the ski fields go up to about 5,900 feet (1,800 meters). The ski season usually starts in late June and continues into late September.

That all means snow. Snow in the mountains, and sometimes snow at street-level in the town, although the latter won't always be the case. Travelers from northern North America shouldn't expect a winter snowscape of the kind you'd find in Upstate New York or Ontario. When snow falls on Queenstown, it's usually light and short-lived, more like frost. Daytime temperatures typically hover a couple of degrees above 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). It doesn't rain much in winter because what would be rain falls as snow.

Daylight hours in Queenstown in winter are pretty short, with the sun rising after 8 a.m. and setting after 5 p.m.—perfect conditions for snuggling up next to a fire and thawing out in a ski lodge.

What to Pack: Heavy jackets, warm hats and gloves, waterproof shoes/boots, layers for sunny days, and ski gear if you plan on skiing.

Spring in Queenstown

Spring in New Zealand falls in September, October, and November. September in Queenstown is almost an extension of winter, with the ski season usually stretching into late September. Daytime temperatures in the town get progressively warmer throughout the season, and November can feel quite summery.

Spring can be an excellent time to visit Queenstown if you want to experience a bit of everything the town offers: The ski fields are still open earlier in the season, while hiking and biking trails at a lower altitude, as well as other adventure sports, are accessible.

Rainfall is moderate in September and October, but November is the driest month, with an average rainfall of just 1.5 inches (38 millimeters).

What to Pack: With changeable weather that sits between cold and warm, it's best to bring layers that you can put on or take off as needed.

Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours

Month Average Temperature Rainfall Daylight Hours
 January  59 F / 15 C  2.8 inches 15.25 hours
 February  59 F / 15 C  1.7 inches 14 hours
 March  55 F / 12.7 C  1.8 inches 12.5 hours
 April  50 F / 10 C  1.8 inches 11 hours
May   44 F / 6.6 C  2.9 inches 9.5 hours
June   39 F / 3.8 C  2.2 inches 8.75 hours
July  37 F / 2.7 C  1.9 inches 9 hours
August  41 F / 5 C  2 inches 10.25 hours
September  44 F / 6.6 C  2.3 inches 11.75 hours
October  48 F / 8.3 C  2.5 inches 13.25 hours
 November  51 F / 10.5 C  1.5 inches 14.75 hours
 December  57 F / 13.8 C  1.6 inches 15.5 hours