WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND?
How many times have we heard this question and how many times have we struggled to find a short, concise answer… and failed?
There really is no simple answer to that question but I once thought there was. A few years ago, cousins Wilderness John and Judith, who live in San Francisco, announced they were coming to New Zealand to visit us and to do some genealogy research.
With unbridled confidence and braggadocio I informed them to come in February. I reasoned that the New Zealand school holidays would be over thereby releasing a huge segment of the available motel/hotel pool for visitors. Also, tourist magnets like sheep-shearing displays and the annual paint drying and grass-growing demonstrations would be less attended. Not to mention that our visitors would be leaving the end of the winter season in the US to enjoy the comfy, warm zephyrs of New Zealand's waning summer of content.
I thought I might have made a small error in judgement when we met the visiting kin at Auckland airport in gale-force winds; rain drops surrounding ice pellets and freezing temperatures.
Of course the situation wasn't helped by the fact that our intrepid pair had apparently spent the entire flight sitting next to a laboratory monkey infected with the Ebola virus or something similar.
Although they made a courageous attempt to compliment us by voicing admiration for the non-committal grey colour of our skies, they were obviously too tired, sick and cold to really enjoy the welcome Kiwi-Mother Nature had arranged in their honour.
I won't go into the rest of their stay in New Zealand other than to say it was the worst February weather to hit our shores in recorded history. To top it off, our visitors showed their generous and sharing nature when they gave Mrs Wilderness and me a generous dose of the Black Death they picked up along the way.
So you can see why I'm no longer confident when suggesting the "Best time to visit New Zealand." Yes, there must be some general guidelines but much of the decision depends on what the visitor is after.
Remember, New Zealand, being in the Southern Hemisphere, experiences opposite seasons to the Northern Hemisphere. For this reason, I would suggest that the Northern Hemisphere visitor avoid the months of December and January! Why you ask… well imagine all the schools out for summer holiday and most businesses closed for the same reason. This is when the locals are on holiday, hotels, motels and camp grounds are full and entertainment venues crowded. Yes, the rush hours are slightly less crowded but where the visitor is going is not!
Also, air travel is most expensive during this time of the year so you might just save a few dollars by holding off until after the First of February. Unless, of course, you want to swoosh down the many fine ski slopes of New Zealand during our winter.
So regardless of the dramatic experiences of our Wilderness cousins, I would still recommend a visit to our beautiful 'Aotearoa' (most widely known and accepted Maori name for New Zealand) in February or March… or maybe even April.
Whatever you do, try not to sit next to a lab monkey on your flight. If necessary, hold your breath for the eleven-hour plus journey… you'll be glad you did. So will the people you meet in New Zealand.
If you read the comments below you will find visitors have enjoyed touring this bountiful country at all times of the year. I guess the weather remains in the temperature of the beholder!
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