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The 9 Warmest Places in New Zealand for Sun Lovers

warmest places in new zealand

Dreaming of endless stretches of golden sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and ideal sunbathing weather? Look no further than these nine warmest places in New Zealand. Drenched in all-year sun with warm winters and pleasant summers, you’ll land yourself right in the middle of paradise.

Located seemingly at the bottom of the world, next to Australia, New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to most. Instead of June through August being the summer months, New Zealand enjoys summer in December through February. Also opposite to much of the world, the further north you head in New Zealand, the warmer it gets – albeit a few exceptions.

No matter when and where you visit, you can always look forward to New Zealand’s mild climate. So pack your sunnies, lather up the sunscreen, and get ready to enjoy these nine warmest places in New Zealand.

1. Gisborne

Gisborne - warmest places in New Zealand
Photo by vkp-australia/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 19.4 °C (66.9 °F)
  • Average January high: 24.6 °C (76.2 °F)
  • Record high: 38.1 °C (100.6 °F)

Located on the east cape of the North Island and protected by high country to its west, Gisborne constantly sees the highest temperatures across all of New Zealand and is also the first city in the world to greet the sun of a new day. Even in the middle of winter, temperatures rarely drop below 0 °C (32 °F), and in the summer, highs hang around the mid 20’s °C (mid 70’s °F) and occasionally reach into the 30’s °C (high 80’s °F). 

Mix these pleasant temperatures with large stretches of coastline and white sand beaches, and you have the perfect location to spend your days between the beach and the water. Gisborne is a surfers paradise, with numerous spots for both beginners and advanced surfers. Or, if you prefer to stay out of the water, Gisborne’s temperate oceanic climate is ideal for chardonnay, and the region boasts a handful of charming boutique wineries.

2. Alexandra

Alexandra bridge
Photo by huafires/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 17.7 °C (63.9 °F)
  • Average January high: 25.1 °C (77 °F)
  • Record high: 38.7 °C (102 °F)

Alexandra closely competes with Gisborne for the warmest place in New Zealand, yet is located in a very different region of the country From November through February, Alexandra temperatures soar into the mid 20’s °C (high 70’s °F) and is deemed the hottest town in the country from November through February. Typically, temperatures get cooler the further south you go in New Zealand. Yet, Alexandra’s location in Central Otago (in the middle of the bottom half of the South Island) gives it the perfect recipe for hot summers.

Located far from both the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean with low lying and sheltered bare ground, the town heats up quickly and continues to warm throughout the day. Don’t expect to show up in a tank top all year, though. Come winter, Alexandra switches its tune and sees lows below zero most days. So cold, in fact, the town even has an outdoor ice rink.

3. Whangarei

Whangarei, New Zealand
Photo by NataliaCatalina/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 19.7 °C (67.6 °F)
  • Average January high: 24.3 °C (75.7 °F)
  • Record high: 33.5 °C (92.3 °F)

Pronounced ‘fang-a-ray’, Whangarei is New Zealand’s northernmost city and is both pleasantly warm and lush. Its location in the northern portion of the North Island ensures the temperatures are mild to hot all year, and rainfall is spread right across all 12 months. The top of the North Island is also deemed the ‘winterless north’, and you can look forward to plenty of beach-worthy days even in the heart of winter. 

July, the coldest month, still has an average high of 15.3 °C (59.5 °F). However, the summer months are when Whangarei really puts on a show. From November through April, the average high is between 20 and 25 °C (68 and 76 °F), and with more beaches in the region than we could possibly name, you won’t have to fight for your perfect spot on the golden sand.

4. Napier

Napier, warmest places in New Zealand
Photo by Chris Putman/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 19.7 °C (67.6 °F)
  • Average January high: 24.3 °C (75.7 °F)
  • Record high: 33.5 °C (92.3 °F)

Nicknamed the Nice of the Pacific, Napier is roughly a 200 km drive south from Gisborne on the east coast of the North Island. As Napier sits in the rain shadow of the Kaweka Range and Volcanic Plateau to the west, it has the driest and warmest summer in the country. From November through February, you can look forward to daily highs in the low to mid 20’s °C (low to mid-70s °F), perfect for enjoying one of the many beaches in the area or wandering the esplanade lined with 1930s Art Deco architecture.

Don’t let Napiers picture-perfect weather fool you, though. After a 1931 earthquake that drastically changed the coastline, Napier’s city center is now very near sea level. Any rise in the sea level or a tsunami could be devastating to the town.

5. Auckland

Auckland city in summer
Photo by travellinglight/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 19.0 °C (66.2 °F)
  • Average January high: 23.1 °C (73.6 °F)
  • Record high: 34.4 °C (93.9 °F)

There’s good reason Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city. With a warm, coastal climate without any temperature extremes, residents can enjoy the trendy urban sprawl, expansive wilderness, and pristine beaches all year round. Summer seems to stretch for a good portion of the year, with temperatures in the high teens to mid 20’s (high 60’s low 70’s) from October through May. Even in the middle of winter, it’s not uncommon for Auckland to be one of the warmest places in New Zealand and enjoy temperatures above 15 °C (60 °F).

It’s not all sunshine, though. Located on both the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Auckland is prone to cold fronts and extreme hailstorms. Like many other regions of New Zealand, it’s best to be prepared for four seasons in one day. Luckily, if the weather isn’t fit for the beach, opt for a hike on a nearby extinct volcano instead.

6. Nelson

sunny Nelson
Photo by LazingBee/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 17.5 °C (63.5 °F)
  • Average January high: 22.4 °C (72.3 °F)
  • Record High: 36.3 °C (97 °F)

Nelson is quintessential New Zealand beauty. Surrounded by Abel Tasman National Park, Kahurangi National Park, Nelson Lakes National Park, and Tasman Bay, every way you turn is a mind-blowing view. Top that with 2400 hours of sunshine a year, warm summers, and mild winters, and it’s no wonder many visitors arrive in Nelson and decide to stay forever. February tends to be the hottest and driest month of the year, with an average high of 22.6 °C (72.7 °F) and only 5.8 average rainy days.

Located at the very top of the South Island, Nelson is susceptible to strong storms charging off Tasman Bay. This is especially true in winter, where you’re much more likely to have days of rain and windy storms. Hikers are always encouraged to have a location beacon and tell friends and families their plans, as it’s not uncommon to hear of hikers becoming stranded due to the weather.

7. Rotorua

Rotorua mud pool
Photo by KiltedArab/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 17.3 °C (63.1 °F)
  • Average January high: 22.8 °C (73.0 °F)
  • Record High: 32.2 °C (90.0 °F)

While typically a town doesn’t want to be known for its foul smell, there’s always an exception to the rule, and in this case, it’s Rotorua. The city is rich in geothermal activity, with stinky sulfur gas bubbling from mud pools and geysers. Even though the smell doesn’t offer a pleasant greeting, the chance to wander around the otherworldly landscapes dotted around the city is why many tourists find their way here.

The ground isn’t the only thing hot in Rotura either. Average summer highs of 22.8 °C (73 °F) make it one of the warmest places in New Zealand and as Rotorua is located in the middle of the North Island, away from the coast and sheltered by high country, it’s also one of the least windy places in the country. To cool off, head to one of the 18 lakes in the region for a swim or paddleboard.

8. Tauranga

Tauranga, warmest places in New Zealand
Photo by Pavlina Lunakova/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 19.1 °C (66.4 °F)
  • Average January high: 24.0 °C (75.2 °F)
  • Record High: 33.7 °C (92.6 °F)

Referred to by the locals as ‘The Mount’, Tauranga is New Zealand’s ultimate beach destination. Located on the east coast of the North Island, it’s so well known for its fabulous coastlines and laidback but full of life atmosphere, it’s been voted as New Zealand’s best beach. Temperatures sit at an ideal low to mid 20’s (mid 70’s) from November through March, and with an average of eight rainy days a month, you’re almost guaranteed a perfect stay.

Word has certainly got out that Tauranga is one of the warmest places in New Zealand and is the place to be as it’s now one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cities. There’s always something to do and see between the many festivals, markets, and other events. If you prefer peace and quiet, don’t worry. With miles of sandy beaches and an abundance of nearby hikes, you’ll always be able to find your personal slice of paradise. Or, take to the warm waters and see if you can spot dolphins, seals, penguins, and even whales.

9. Christchurch

Christchurch city
Photo by Chris Putnam/Getty Images
  • Average yearly high: 17.2 °C (63.0 °F)
  • Average January high: 22.7 °C (72.9 °F)
  • Record High: 41.6 °C (107 °F)

Last on our list of the warmest places in New Zealand is Christchurch. Located on the South Island’s east coast, Christchurch is a story of two halves. Summer temperatures soar into the low 30’s (high 80’s), while winter temperatures often dip below freezing. Devastation from the February 2011 earthquake is a stark reminder of the city’s past, whereas creative new builds showcase an enthusiastic and bright future. Within the city, you’ll find plentiful shopping and hip cafes to sample New Zealand’s food culture. Outside the city, endless stretches of beautiful landscapes beg to be explored.

Like the rest of New Zealand, you’ll always want to plan for four seasons in one day. Cool sea breezes can blow in and drop temperatures, and storms arrive with little warning. On the other hand, with less than six rainy days per month in January and February, you’re even more likely to experience plentiful hot and dry days.

Warmest places in New Zealand FAQs

New Zealand sunny landscape
Photo by Steve Clancy/Getty Images

Where is the warmest place in New Zealand?

Based on the average yearly high of 19.7 °C (67.6 °F), Whangarei is the warmest place in New Zealand. In summer, temperatures climb to the mid 20’s °C (mid 70’s °F) and occasionally reach above 30 °C (mid 80’s °F). In winter, temperatures are still very pleasant, with an average low of 7.8 °C (46.0 °F). Just be sure to have a raincoat on hand as moderate rainfall is experienced all year round.

Does it snow in New Zealand?

Yes, many regions of New Zealand see snow in the winter months of June through August. The Southern Alps run down the length of the South Island and provide excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities. In towns like Queenstown, Tekapo, and Alexandra, it will snow in town a few times a year. However, it is rare for snow to stay on the ground for more than a few hours.

What city in New Zealand has the best weather?

Gisborne has the best weather in New Zealand. Located on the east cape of the North Island and protected by high country, the entire year sees pleasant temperatures with minimal rainfall. In summer, the average high is between 77.9 °F (25.5 °C) and 73.2 °F (22.9 °C), and in winter, temperatures rarely drop below freezing. Gisborne is also known for its fabulous surfing, delicious chardonnay, and prominent Maori culture.

What are the warmest months in New Zealand?

As New Zealand is located in the Southern Hemisphere, the warmest months are December through February and the coldest months are June through August. This also means New Zealand celebrates Christmas in the middle of summer and has unique culture and traditions compared to much of the rest of the world. Plus, opposite to the northern hemisphere, the more north you go, the warmer temperatures tend to be.