Visiting New Zealand in April
The MoaTrek team is often asked what month is best to visit New Zealand.
For many of us April is a favourite time as the weather is comfortably temperate for hiking and the sea is still warm enough for swimming. But for travellers planning to visit New Zealand, April is often overlooked and misunderstood.
As one of our Kiwi Guides says: "I've been guiding all over New Zealand since 1999 and if you ask me what my favourite travel memories are, without a doubt it is travelling through remote countryside like the Mackenzie Country, Central Otago or Central North Island in clear, autumn sunshine with colours everywhere and the occasional dusting of snow high up on the hills."
April is actually a fantastic time to visit New Zealand - read on to find out exactly why.
When is peak season for travellers to New Zealand?
Our peak season for international visitors is January and February, coinciding with our official summer months. From March numbers begin to dip and by April they have nearly all departed for home. This leaves Kiwis to take advantage of empty walking tracks, beaches, mountain vistas and lakes with family and friends.
The North Island - the last of the summer sun
At our North Island beaches the water has been warming up all summer, baked by the sun. It is still very swimmable. While the peak summer heat has passed, the remnants of summer linger on providing settled days and calm, cooler evenings, and low humidity.
Northland, where our 21 Day Kakapo tour stays three nights is the warmest part of New Zealand, being the furthest north. Russell in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand’s first capital in the 1840s, reaches an average of 22 degrees at this time of year, a comfortable temperature for travelling. You will have many of the famous sites almost to yourselves - relax and enjoy a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, snorkel and cruise in the Bay of Islands, discover the Hokianga Harbour and see our famous Kauri tree, Tane Mahuta.
Temperatures in other North Island places on our 21 Day Kakapo tour you might visit include:
Auckland averages 18 - 20 degrees Celsius
Rotorua averages 16 - 18 degrees Celsius
National Park, on the volcanic plateau, averages 15 - 17 degrees Celsius
Wellington averages 14 - 16 degrees Celsius
The South Island - clear skies and April colours
As New Zealand is a long narrow country surrounded by water the weather can be changeable at any time of the year.
Though April is officially part of fall, and the occasional snowflake can be seen on Queenstown's surrounding mountains anytime from March, generally comfortable, settled weather is the norm in the South Island.
Around the country, as the cooler crisper weather creeps north, the trees begin to show their fall colours in the far south. A photographers dream!
Nelson and the Abel Tasman in April average 17 - 21 degrees Celsius
Christchurch in April averages 16 - 18 degrees Celsius
Queenstown in April is likely to average 14 - 16 degrees Celsius
Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park
The Nelson region and Abel Tasman National Park are one of the sunniest places in the country.
The Abel Tasman in particular empties out of hikers in March and by Easter the peak season is over, but the settled weather usually lingers on into the rest of April.
If you plan to tour with us in April, expect empty paths, settled weather and water still warm enough for a dip in this part of New Zealand.
This resort city on the lake is a key stop on all of our tours and is a joy to visit year round. Queenstown is glowing golden and has a relaxed vibe in April when the peak summer season is over and the winter ski season is still a few months away.
April is also a busy time in the vineyards making it an exciting time to take a guided tour of Central Otago's vineyards. With all hands to the pump, picking and preparing the grapes, you’ll see this in action first hand.
It’s also the time many winemakers release their new wines for the year, giving you the unique opportunity to try a brand new wine at the very place it has been grown and crafted. Perhaps that Gibbston Valley wine even tastes a little better when you’re enjoying it right there?
April in Arrowtown and Wanaka
In April the colours are magnificent in Central Otago, particularly around Arrowtown and Wanaka.
These are particularly good places to take advantage of nature's change, though by the end of April all of New Zealand's deciduous trees have a degree of colour.
There’s a reason these two Central Otago spots are long time favourites with Kiwi travellers and particularly the hillsides and idyllic laneways around Arrowtown
Just a 20 minute drive from Queenstown, Arrowtown is on the itinerary on the day we drive from Queenstown to Wanaka. A bustling Gold Rush town founded in the 1860s, nestled beside the Arrow River, the town today retains much of its charms. The colours of the most common trees, Oaks, Sycamores, Cork Elms and Ashes, enhance its beauty and the Autumn Festival brings Kiwis from all over the country to celebrate the season.
The poplars and oaks in the countryside surrounding Wanaka put on a fiery show in April that makes you feel like you’re in a another world. Strolling through the town or taking a nearby short walk along the Wanaka lakeside trail is the perfect afternoon exercise.
When we visit Lake Wanaka we always stay right on the water at Edgewater Resort, meaning these lakeside scenes are just minutes away from the comfort of your room. If you are lucky in April you might be in town for the Wanaka Autumn Festival.
All three of our MoaTrek tours visit Arrowtown and stay overnight in Lake Wanaka during the beautiful autumn season.
The Mackenzie Country in the South Island
Andrew, one of our Kiwi Guides reflects:
"As a guide I have so many great memories of travelling through the Mackenzie Country in autumn. The brilliant sunshine and autumn colours all the way from the Canterbury Plains through to Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki then up the Aoraki/Mt Cook road to stay in Mt Cook Village to watch the sun set over Aoraki/Mt Cook.
This is iconic New Zealand High Country, in the shadow of the Ngai Tahu ancestor Aoraki with the ghost of Sir Edmund Hillary in the air, you’ll feel proud that this is where we call home.
We can’t come all this way without getting outside to enjoy this amazing alpine environment right on our front door and luckily the settled autumn weather is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the short walks easily accessible from Mt Cook Village."
It’s a special time to be out exploring New Zealand, with the crisp mornings and brilliant weather, so if you’re thinking of visiting New Zealand in April, go ahead and book with confidence.