Our lucky guides get to travel all over New Zealand in all seasons. When we asked what their favourite month was to show off the country, we weren’t at all surprised when several chose November. November has all the benefits of summer; but with lighter traffic on the roads, fewer visitors at popular attractions, and good availability of accommodation, it feels like the country’s best-kept secret. Here are some of the reasons we all love November in New Zealand, and some travel tips to make the most of a November visit.

 


 

NOVEMBER WEATHER IN NEW ZEALAND

 

November is the last month of spring in New Zealand.* With summer just around the corner, the days are becoming long and warm. Rainfall is low, yet earlier spring rains have left the countryside freshly rinsed and looking positively edible (as our woolly residents can attest). New Zealand weather is changeable regardless of the season and you will get rainy days, but this is the beginning of a more settled period.

November has plenty of sunny days and views good enough to eat. © Black Sheep Touring Co.
November has plenty of sunny days and views good enough to eat. © Black Sheep Touring Co.

Daytime temperatures are mild, around 20˚C (68˚F), falling to around 6˚C (43˚F) at night, with regional variations. The far north and eastern coast of the North Island and parts of the South Island, including Nelson and Christchurch, can get markedly warmer.

 

* Reminder: seasons are the opposite here in the Southern Hemisphere—spring is September to November, summer December to February, autumn March to May, and winter June to August. Also, temperatures are typically warmer in the north than in the south.

Travel Tip:

  • With very clear air and no ozone above, the New Zealand sun is intense. Apply high-factor sunscreen (minimum 30+) several times a day, even on cloudy days.
  • Pack for varying temperatures and weather—layering is the key. In general, a light wardrobe will be the order of the day, but include a thermal layer, light jacket or fleece, and rain jacket.

 

NOVEMBER SCENERY IN NEW ZEALAND

 

November is a dream month for professional and pocket photographers alike, with New Zealand at arguably its most photogenic. One of our guides’ most anticipated sights is the arrival of lupins in the South Island. From mid-November, the river valleys of Canterbury, Otago and Fiordland flow with pink and purple blooms, while snow-capped peaks create an irresistible backdrop for even the most selfie-averse. And then there’s those rolling, green hillsides dotted with lambs…trust us, buy an extra SD card for your camera and start making room on your phone now.

A stop to view the lupins. © Black Sheep Touring Co.
A stop to view the lupins. © Black Sheep Touring Co.

Travel Tip:

  • The scenery can be very distracting this time of year. If you’re on a self-drive trip, choose a safe spot to pull over and park your car to enjoy the view. Also, beware of lupin madness. Drivers can lose all common sense and abruptly hit the brakes or even (we kid you not!) park in the middle of the highway to take a photo of these roadside beauties.

 

NOVEMBER EVENTS IN NEW ZEALAND

 

The 5th of November is Guy Fawkes, a fireworks and bonfire event to celebrate the foiled plot to blow up the British Parliament over 400 years ago. For New Zealanders, the reason for the celebration is less important than the excuse to get together with friends and family and start the summer fun with a bang. Some larger centres put on public fireworks displays, but you’re likely to hear at least a few whistles and pops from homegrown celebrations wherever you are.

Farmers' Markets are a great place to purchase local goods (the smiles are free). © Black Sheep Touring Co.
Farmers' Markets are a great place to purchase local goods (the smiles are free). © Black Sheep Touring Co.

 

November is when Farmers’ Markets become a regular weekend destination. It’s also the beginning of the summer’s garden and food & wine festivals around the country. Below are links to popular events happening this November:

 

Taranaki Garden Festival

Garden Marlborough

Tauranga Food & Wine Festival

Food & Wine Classic Hawke’s Bay
Toast Martinborough

The New Zealand Cider Festival

The Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival

Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations

NZ Tattoo & Art Festival

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

Travel Tip:

  • Eventfinda.co.nz is a handy site for checking out what’s on around New Zealand when you’re here, from festivals and concerts to outdoor movies and pub quiz nights that offer a great chance to mix with the locals.

 

NOVEMBER ACTIVITIES IN NEW ZEALAND

 

With milder weather, this is a great month for hiking and cycling, and New Zealand has a huge range of trails for enjoying both. This is also a favourite month for garden enthusiasts, with urban parks and gardens a kaleidoscope of blooms. Snowmelt means rivers are swift and swollen, perfect for white water rafting. For anglers, this is one of the best fishing months for brown trout. Pretty much every summer activity you can think of is happening from November onward, so the sky’s the limit (and there’s plenty of ways to enjoy it up there, too).

November is a great month to hit biking and hiking trails. © Miles Holden
November is a great month to hit biking and hiking trails. © Miles Holden

Travel Tips:

  • Though the country is quieter, overnight excursions or activities with limited departure dates, such as guided Great Walks or overnight stays on Milford Sound still need to be booked well in advance.
  • Sandflies–small, black, biting insects–are awakening from their winter slumber, so be sure to have insect repellent on hand, particularly on the South Island’s West Coast and lake areas. If you react strongly to bites, consider packing an antihistamine.

 

NOVEMBER VISITOR NUMBERS IN NEW ZEALAND

 

November is the final month of the tourism shoulder season. Despite the excellent weather, summer tourist crowds have yet to arrive, so it’s a great time to visit popular tourist destinations like Milford Sound. There’s still a good range of accommodation choices around the country, though we highly recommend booking as soon as your plans are known.

Enjoy the tranquility of Milford Sound before the high season arrives. © Real Journeys
Enjoy the tranquility of Milford Sound before the high season arrives. © Real Journeys

Travel Tip:

  • If you want to do a multi-day hike, this is a great month to do popular coastal tracks like the Abel Tasman and Queen Charlotte which are comparatively quiet this time of year, yet enjoy good weather.

 

NOVEMBER PRICES IN NEW ZEALAND

 

While November is no longer considered low season for accommodation prices, they aren’t at the dizzying heights found in December and January when overseas visitors and Kiwis are both vying for room at the inn (or even space in the manger in popular destinations like Queenstown). The same goes for flights. Though airfares are now based on loading and will depend on availability at time of booking, November flights can be as much as half to a third of the price of those in December when seats are at a premium.

A favourite Black Sheep stay offers breathtaking views. © The Rees
A favourite Black Sheep stay offers breathtaking views. © The Rees

Travel Tips:

  • When researching prices online, remember to check the quoted currency and use a currency converter like xe.com to see pricing in your home currency. Prices might be cheaper than you first think!
  • New Zealand sales tax (Goods & Services Tax or GST) of 15% is already built into pricing, so the price you see is the price you’ll pay (unless it states the price is exclusive of GST).


 

GREAT NOVEMBER TRIP: NEW ZEALAND EXPERIENCE