New Zealand is a natural paradise that lives up to every bit of hype. Home to soaring mountains, fairytale waterfalls, mirror-like lakes, ancient ferny forests, and secluded sandy coves, it really is a stunner.

But New Zealand’s allure doesn’t stop at the scenery. Learn about the fascinating local Maori culture, sip some of the best wine in the world, try every outdoor activity under the sun and explore Hobbit Holes in the Shire. There’s nowhere like New Zealand.

While most travellers head to New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer (December to February in the UK), we can’t get enough of New Zealand in November. Traditionally seen as the last month of shoulder season, November brings the fresh beauty of early summer without the crowds - or the costs. It's a win/win all round.

Here are a few reasons why we love New Zealand in November. If you can get away before peak season settles in, you’re in for a real treat.

Hike to amazing viewpoints around Mount Cook | Travel Nation

1. The weather is wonderful

November is late spring in New Zealand. Summer is just around the corner and temperatures rise steadily throughout the month. In many ways, it’s a climatic sweet spot – not too hot and not too cold. We’re talking bright blue skies, gentle warm sunshine, and clear, chilly nights. It’s classic T-shirt and jeans weather, which is perfect for road-tripping, sightseeing, hiking, and cycling.

On the North Island, you can expect daily highs of around 19 degrees, while the South Island stays a little cooler, averaging 16 degrees in early November. By late November, the temperatures will have notched up an extra few degrees.

2. The scenery hits a spectacular peak

While the sweeping landscapes of New Zealand are stunning at any time of year, November is the next level for natural beauty. While the mountains are still dusted with a scenic topping of snow, the spring meltwater is gushing down the hillsides. This quickly fills the rivers and waterfalls, creating fast flows and mighty cascades. It’s an incredible time to sail through Milford or Doubtful Sound and easily the best month for whitewater rafting.

November also offers a staggering botanical show in New Zealand, with emerald mossy forests coming to life, wildflowers carpeting the valleys, and spring flowers bursting into bloom. The trees are heavy with fresh blossom, the ferns start unfolding their fronds, and the iconic lupins of Lake Tekapo start to flower. It’s also the prime time to visit Wellington, Auckland, and Hamilton Botanical Gardens.

See the beautiful lupins of Lake Tekapo | Travel Nation

3. The wildlife goes wild

November is a month of new growth in the gentle sunshine and this riotous explosion of life isn’t limited to the plant world. November sees a baby bonanza of wildlife, with newborn lambs frolicking in the fields, baby chicks singing in their nests, and seal pups popping up along the coastlines. The animal kingdom goes berserk, which is beautiful to behold.

Out on the water, you’ll have a chance to see pods of migrating orca whales off the coast of Kaikoura, and possibly even blue whales, in addition to the resident sperm whales and dolphins. This makes November the perfect time to book a whale-watching boat trip. Further south, in Akaroa, you can also visit the largest Little Penguin Colony in the world, where you can see nesting sites and penguins socialising in November.

Spot whales and dolphins off the coast of Kaikoura | Travel Nation

4. It’s a taste sensation

If you’re a foodie, November is the perfect month to explore New Zealand. Several prestigious food and wine festivals take place on the North and South Islands in November, making it a great time to take your tastebuds on tour. Come thirsty, bring your appetite, and leave with a well-fed-and-watered glow.

Celebrate spring at the Harvest Hawke’s Bay Festival, bag a sought-after ticket for the annual Hobbiton Beer Festival or stop in at Toast Martinborough, set across a handful of scenic vineyards. On the South Island, explore the New Zealand Cider Festival in Nelson or stagger between stalls at the South Island Beer Festival near Christchurch.

5. There are fewer tourists

When summer hits New Zealand, so do the holidaymakers. While New Zealand can never be said to be crowded, you’ll certainly find more peace and personal space on a November trip. Tourist hotspots such as Hobbiton, Waitomo, Coromandel, and Milford Sound are less likely to be at peak capacity, and you won’t need to book so far ahead.

If you’re travelling by campervan, you’ll find quieter campsites and, if you’re a hiker, you’ll come across fewer walkers on the trails. In many places, you can soak up NZ’s glorious scenery in virtual solitude.

Soak up the sunshine at Cathedral Cove | Travel Nation

6. It’s great value for money

When it comes to booking a trip to New Zealand, your hard-earned money will go further in November. Once peak season hits in December, airfares, car rental rates, and accommodation reach premium prices, which means that you can often pay 10% to 20% more for exactly the same trip. Travelling in November allows you to sneak in before these summer rates apply, giving you far more bang for your budget.

7. There’s plenty of availability

If you’re planning to stay in boutique hotels or iconic luxury lodges (which we highly recommend), you’ll have a higher chance of getting the availability that you need in November. Small-scale accommodation can sell out quickly for the summer months. There are some truly extraordinary places to stay in New Zealand, often set in secluded locations with huge wow factors. These properties are packed with character, and they’ll easily become highlights of your holiday, so don’t miss out!  

Be surrounded by breath taking views at Milford Sound | Travel Nation

Ready to plan your trip to New Zealand?

We’ve been creating extraordinary multi-centre trips and holidays to New Zealand for 20 years. Our friendly experts will work with you closely to build your trip of a lifetime. To get started, simply give us a call on +44 1273320580 or send us a quote request by email.

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