New Zealand vs UK Climate

What’s New Zealand’s Weather Really Like?

This question is asked by British people more often than anyone else.


Havelock North
Havelock North, Hawkes Bay. Hawkes Bay has one of NZ’s warmest, driest climates (see Napier, below). Photo: Ulrich Lange

It seems that the British are less happy with their weather than people from almost anywhere else on the planet. One of the reasons for leaving the UK appears to be, in the words of Sybil Fawlty :

“This morning he went on for two hours about the bloody weather.”

In simple terms, almost the whole of New Zealand is warmer and sunnier than the UK. The driest weather is found in the east (Christchurch and Napier, for example) and the warmest weather is found in the north (Auckland and Napier, for example).

Although New Zealanders will tell you that you can experience four seasons in one day here, in practice, the weather is less variable than the UK. Of course you can get stuck in a run of bad weather in New Zealand, but the sun will usually be back cheering you up again before too long, whatever the season.

Wherever they settle, British people generally find the New Zealand climate to be very pleasant, and indeed it is. Temperatures are rarely hot or cold enough to make you feel uncomfortable.

New Zealand winters, unless you live in the mountains, are shorter, warmer and sunnier than the UK.

NZ in the Northern Hemisphere

The fact that New Zealand lies closer to the equator than the UK means that its winter days are longer and the nights are shorter.

For example, Auckland in midwinter has sunrise at around 7:35 am and sundown at 5:15 pm. London has sunrise at 8:05 am and sundown at 3:55 pm. Auckland’s 9 hour 38 minute midwinter day has the same number of daylight hours as November 1 in London.

Spring comes to New Zealand earlier than in the UK, summer lasts longer, autumn comes later and there are ample opportunites to get outdoors at all times of the year.

In Auckland and the northern part of the North Island, winter is usually a season of plentiful rainfall. People in Northland sometimes talk of “The Wet”. Despite the frequent rainfalls, there is also abundant sunshine. New Zealanders happily point out the reason that much of the country is so brilliantly green is that God waters it regularly.

Auckland and Christchurch probably have the best weather of New Zealand’s main population centres. Christchurch’s seasons are more distinct than Auckland’s and its winters are noticably cooler. Frost is common in Christchurch, followed by stunningly sunny days. Frost is rare in Auckland.

If you like to swim in the sea, the water is pleasant in summer around Auckland but cooler around Christchurch. Christchurch is considerably drier than Auckland and its rain falls on fewer days. Some people can find Auckland quite sticky in summer but the summer warmth in Christchurch is dryer.

new zealand climate

For most people, the best weather of all is found on the North Island’s east coast – of which Napier is an example. The climate here has a Mediterranean flavour.

The climates of Wellington and Dunedin are not quite as favoured as the other cities. Wellington enjoys several months of warm summer sunshine but its reputation as a windy city is not unjustified. Dunedin is the coolest and cloudiest of New Zealand’s main centres. Dunedin’s daytime temperatures are similar all year round to those found in the south-west of England, but Dunedin is a bit drier and its nights are a bit cooler.

If you want further climate detail, we’ve put together some numbers so you can compare New Zealand’s cities’ climates directly with British cities. To help you compare like-with-like, we’ve swapped the New Zealand months around as if New Zealand were in the Northern hemisphere. This way you can directly compare British winters with New Zealand winters, etc.

For each New Zealand city, you can compare temperatures, rain days and sunshine hours with London, Edinburgh and Birmingham.

Click on an arrow below to reveal the climate data for the city you’re interested in. Press the arrow again to collapse the climate data.

Auckland vs London vs Edinburgh vs Birmingham

Auckland vs British Cities
Average Daily Maximum Temperatures (oC)

MonthAucklandLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January15666
February15766
March171089
April18131112
May20171415
June22201719
July24221821
August24211820
September23191617
October20141213
November181098
December16776

Auckland vs British Cities
Average Number of Rainy Days
(0.25mm or more falls)

MonthAucklandLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January21151718
February19131514
March17111514
April16121415
May15121414
June12121513
July10121715
August10111615
September11131614
October14131716
November19151717
December19151817

Auckland vs British Cities
Annual Hours of Sunshine

AucklandLondonEdinburghBirmingham
Sunshine2,0501,5001,3501,400

Christchurch vs London vs Edinburgh vs Birmingham

Christchurch vs British Cities
Average Daily Maximum Temperatures (oC)

MonthChristchurchLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January11666
February13766
March151089
April17131112
May19171415
June21201719
July23221821
August22211820
September20191617
October18141213
November141098
December12776

Christchurch vs British Cities
Average Number of Rainy Days
(0.25mm or more falls)

MonthChristchurchLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January13151718
February11131514
March10111514
April10121415
May10121414
June10121513
July10121715
August8111615
September9131614
October10131716
November12151717
December13151817

Christchurch vs British Cities
Annual Hours of Sunshine

ChristchurchLondonEdinburghBirmingham
Sunshine2,0501,5001,3501,400

Dunedin vs London vs Edinburgh vs Birmingham

Dunedin vs British Cities
Average Daily Maximum Temperatures (oC)

MonthDunedinLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January10666
February11766
March131089
April15131112
May16171415
June18201719
July19221821
August19211820
September17191617
October15141213
November121098
December10776

Dunedin vs British Cities
Average Number of Rainy Days(0.25mm or more falls)

MonthDunedinLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January13151718
February13131514
March14111514
April14121415
May14121414
June15121513
July14121715
August11111615
September13131614
October13131716
November14151717
December13151817

Dunedin vs British Cities
Annual Hours of Sunshine

DunedinLondonEdinburghBirmingham
Sunshine1,6001,5001,3501,400

Napier vs London vs Edinburgh vs Birmingham

Napier vs British Cities
Average Daily Maximum Temperatures (oC)

MonthNapierLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January14666
February15766
March171089
April19131112
May21171415
June23201719
July24221821
August24211820
September23191617
October20141213
November171098
December14776

Napier vs British Cities
Average Number of Rainy Days (0.25mm or more falls)

MonthNapierLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January12151718
February12131514
March10111514
April9121415
May9121414
June8121513
July8121715
August8111615
September8131614
October8131716
November10151717
December11151817

Napier vs British Cities
Annual Hours of Sunshine

NapierLondonEdinburghBirmingham
Sunshine2,2001,5001,3501,400

Wellington vs London vs Edinburgh vs Birmingham

Wellington vs British Cities
Average Daily Maximum Temperatures (oC)

MonthWellingtonLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January11666
February12766
March141089
April15131112
May17171415
June19201719
July20221821
August21211820
September19191617
October17141213
November141098
December12776

Wellington vs British Cities
Average Number of Rainy Days (0.25mm or more falls)

MonthWellingtonLondonEdinburghBirmingham
January18151718
February17131514
March15111514
April14121415
May13121414
June12121513
July10121715
August9111615
September11131614
October13131716
November16151717
December17151817

Wellington vs British Cities
Annual Hours of Sunshine

WellingtonLondonEdinburghBirmingham
Sunshine2,0501,5001,3501,400

Return to the New Zealand Climate Guide.


Climate data were sourced from:
The New Zealand MetService
The World Weather Guide, E.A. Pearce and G. Smith.
Smith’s Guide to Western Maritime Climates, Bartholemew Smith.

Comments

  1. Chloe Murth says:

    This is not neccerserally true, It changes every year and im pretty sure this was for 2010? I saw this then. Maybe update your facts?

    • Thanks for your comment Chloe. The weather each year is different, but the long-term averages don’t change much. The numbers above are long-term averages.

  2. I don’t understand the temperatures for New Zealand. You have made our winter hotter than our summer

    New Zealand has summer: December, January and February. Though, you have made it look as if our summer is June, July, August.

    • Thanks aa. You may not have noticed that near the end of the text, before the climate tables begin, we say:

      “To help you compare like-with-like, we’ve swapped the New Zealand months around as if New Zealand were in the Northern hemisphere. This way you can directly compare British winters with New Zealand winters, etc.”

  3. The climate statistics are wrong. In New Zealand, summertime is from December to February. The stats show that the hottest temperatures occur in June/July, which is winter here in New Zealand. The digits are correct, but the ordering is wrong, nevertheless, great comparisons!

  4. Great – very useful – just a shame people don’t read the text where it is all explained clearly…oh well…

  5. This is the best ‘moving to NZ site I have found. Thanks so much.

  6. British people will notice that the main difference is NZ very high sunshine hours. Our lowest sunshine hours in Hokitika(west coast South Island) is higher than the sunshine hours in Cornwall -Britain’s sunniest spot. The other things Brits notice are the very long summers.A kiwi Spring and Autumn is better than a UK summer so warm weather’ lasts from September to May-9 months.Yahoo.This has a noticeable effect on lifestyle.It is far easier to go to the beach, have a BBQ,go for a run, take the kids to feed the ducks, go for a row,garden etc etc.The kiwi climate is made for outdoor life. Society is geared to making use the great outdoors no matter whether its just a gentle stroll by the river or something more vigorous like a game of touch or a sail after tea. Kiwi cafes and restaurants are geared towards casual outside seating in summer-even in the evening when it is very balmy.You will notice the casual,light weight clothing too.

    The high sunshine hours mean that plants grow really well-great for farmers and gardeners. Although summers are dry there is enough rain to keep plants going most of the time. Even kiwi houses are made for outdoor living -big windows to let the sun in. Sliding doors lead onto big decks for lounging in the sun or BBQ’s. Our family has about 4 BBQs per week right through the warm period. Big lawns for kids to play on and lots of free parks and sports grounds. If you are into snow skiiing both island have well developed commercial ski fields-about 2 hours from Christchurch and 5 hours from Auckland. Schools all have very big grounds for for play and sports outside.Secondary age children-both boys and girls will find a wealth of well organized outdoor sports from the very casual to the intensely competitive. Many schools have outdoor pools which are open to the public after school or in the weekend for a nominal charge. Kids ( and adults ) have to learn to be sun safe and not over do it! Hats and sunscreen are compulsary for daycare centres and primary schools.

  7. What a very excellent site.
    I live in the UK at present, having come here in 1972 from Canada newly married to an Englishman. I’m just in the process of selling up to go to NZ permanently. This can happen, happily, as I worked in Dunedin Hospital 2006-2011 and have Permanent Residency. A word of caution about that in a moment.

    First though, I find the maximum temperature chart very odd as it seems opposite to the reality – higher temperatures are listed during our Northern hemisphere summer months, which is winter there and colder temperatures are listed when it is actually summer in NZ. October is Spring, Christmas is hot, August is cold and – in Dunedin – wet. Count on it being exactly the opposite of the UK. And a surprisingly surprising experience even after the first 2 or 3 years. For Dunedin think the Western Isles of Scotland but months reversed. It looks astonishingly like that area also and it’s not surprising that Dunedin (new Edinburgh) is where the Scots settled. The granite ballast from the early ships was used for many of the buildings and it has, in the view of many, the most beautiful architecture in NZ – which is sadly very, very short of beautiful buildings.

    The difficult issue – getting into NZ after 50. I was 55, permanent job contract in my pocket, solvent, morally wholesome in a prairie Canadian way. I was told by NZ Immigration I could enter and work but would be required to leave when 57. Without Permanent Residency in my passport I would not be able to remain despite a job and house ownership. Anyone approaching that age MUST get PR based on a points system BEFORE arriving if intending to stay. Otherwise there is heartbreak and you will have to leave. No children and my age both worked against me for points, I only tipped over into acceptance with postgraduate qualifications points and having the job contract.

    I had fallen in love with NZ on a trip in 2005 and, although not looking, was offered the job on a off-chance contact. It could so easily not have worked, given my age. If you’re over 50, then move fast. If over 55, don’t get too fond of the idea. The population is far too small to bear the burden of incoming elderly and they reasonably have to block that movement.

    One of the things I found amazed me and then was a joy – people are treated like sensible adults. It’s a young country with a make-do spirit. Obviously if you start a long trip over mountains you will fill the tank and take extra. Think ahead and plan, take responsibility or suffer the inconvenience of not – no babying with petrol stations and food every few miles.

    The hospital health system is fantastic and I say that from working within it. I still fail to see how NZ can afford it! Hospital care is free to kiwis. Sadly, there’s a great deal of catching late cases though as GPs are expensive and many people are poor in NZ so just can’t go until it’s almost too late. A costly error for NZ in all ways.

    I found it unexpectedly hard coming back to the UK in early 2012, the south/southeast has changed radically with a huge influence from eastern Europe. The first news report was almost word for word the same as the last I had heard in 2006 – the PM stating that Banks could not continue to give unwarranted bonuses. This and obviously more set my years in the South Island NZ apart and as somewhere I want my remaining years, hopefully decades, to be. NZ is certainly not perfect, the architecture is on the whole very ugly and temporary looking, it’s appallingly isolated in the world when we’re used to hopping to the Continent – but it is a wonderful place to be. And the people are the best ever. It’s ‘a box of birds’! (I never did fully get that one)

    • Hi Pat, thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed, interesting post. The climate data have been shown the wrong way round deliberately – it’s the easiest way to compare like with like between the southern and northern hemispheres. We mentioned this in the article itself, and it’s also mentioned in the comments above.

      There was also a tax issue that you were concerned about. I’ve moved that part of your post to one of our tax pages, and I’ll answer it there.

  8. Charles Laing says:

    Great site. (And great patience on your part re people not reading the temperature chart info.)

  9. hello there; very interesting information.
    I’m interesting specifically in Blenheim and wondered how the data for rain, sunshine would compare; more sun and less rain I think; but could you be a bit more specific?

    thank you!

  10. This article is a little misleading, having lived in both islands I can honestly say that the occassional summer is better than the UK while others are quite similar. To say that New Zealands weather does not get cold enough to feel uncomnfortable is simply not true, have you lived in the south island in mid winter? The biggest problem is that the housing situation in New Zealand does not tally with weather conditions, freezing and wet homes, sometimes colder than outdoor temperatures. Don’t believe all the hype about New Zealands weather, Australia it is NOT.

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