New Zealand in May

Find out whether May is a good month to visit New Zealand, what you can do, where you can go, and what New Zealand’s weather is like in May.

May is a month that can be considered low season in New Zealand.

It marks the end of autumn and falls just before the beginning of winter in New Zealand.

Because May lies on the border of two seasons, the weather tends to be pretty unpredictable.

You should not expect to get lots of sunny days, and the chance of rain and snow increases the further into May you get.

If I had a choice to travel to New Zealand, I would not choose May to do so. While it is one of the best times to travel to New Zealand if you consider the low price and high availability of accommodation, what you gain in saving money, you lose in enjoying lots of good weather.

This is not to say that it cannot rain or snow during the better months to travel to New Zealand, because it can and often does; or that it is never sunny in May in New Zealand, because it can be as you can see from the photo included in this article, which I shot in May.

I have traveled in New Zealand in May and did not enjoy my trip as much as I would have enjoyed it, had I moved it either to April or a month later to June.

In April you can enjoy more of the autumn colors in New Zealand and in June you can enjoy the first fall of snow on the mountains.


Generally, snow starts falling in New Zealand at the end of May, although there have been years when it started falling mid-April.

If you do not have another option or want to purely visit New Zealand for the peace and tranquility, and relatively low accommodation prices you can get during May, then I would say, “Go for it!”

However, if you want to visit New Zealand to see scenery and enjoy the best it has got to offer in relatively good weather, I would suggest choosing a different time of the year to visit.

Things to do in May in New Zealand

Any activity that you can do in rainy or bad weather, or for which the weather is not a big factor, would be ideal to do in May.

Activities you can do in May include:

You could also go on a 4-wheel drive tour if the weather is not horrible and the rivers are not swollen. If the rivers are swollen but not dangerous, you could even do water activities such as jet boating and river rafting.

Bungy jumping and canyon swinging can also be done when it is raining. And finally, I like to visit waterfalls when it is raining or overcast.

Places to visit in May in New Zealand

Staying with the activities mentioned earlier, you could shop in Auckland or Wellington, although Auckland would be better, because it has more shops and shopping malls – more than anywhere else in New Zealand.

You could visit Te Papa National Museum in Wellington. Auckland and Christchurch also have museums you could visit, such as for example Auckland Museum and Maritime Museum in Auckland, and Canterbury Museum in Christchurch.

Owharoa Falls on the North Island of New Zealand

Owharoa Falls on the North Island of New Zealand

You could also visit historic places all over New Zealand but mostly on the North Island; or walk in Auckland, Wellington, Napier, and Dunedin to see heritage buildings and artwork.

Dining at restaurants is pretty good in Wellington, which also has many bars you can visit.

Any place that has a waterfall that is easily accessible would be a good place to visit in May.

Some nice and easily accessible North Island waterfalls include:

  • Whangarei Falls north of Whangarei
  • Owharoa Falls between the Coromandel Peninsula and Tauranga
  • Huka Falls near Taupo
  • Marokopia Falls near Waitomo

Some nice and easily accessible South Island waterfalls include:

And if you are visiting the West Coast of the South Island, you could try walking to the impressive and beautiful Mangatini Falls.

For the rest of the activities, you could go to Queenstown on the South Island, and Taupo on the North Island for river rafting.

New Zealand weather in May

Coming out of summer, temperatures start to drop in March and continue dropping throughout autumn. So the temperatures are at their lowest in May compared to the other two months in autumn.

Where the amount of rainfall is concerned, May is the wettest month of autumn. This seems to be a trend throughout entire New Zealand.

May is the month in which polar blasts tend to become more frequent. The first big dumpings of snow are expected toward the end of May, although these days they can also occur in April.

Temperatures in May do not vary much between cities in New Zealand. Nighttime temperatures vary between -2 and 6 degrees Celsius (28 – 43 degrees Fahrenheit).

Daytime temperatures vary between 18 and 23 degrees Celsius (64 – 73 degrees Fahrenheit) with the warmest places being places such as Christchurch, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, and the upper part of the North Island. On average, you should expect daytime temperatures to be in the mid-teens to low-twenties.

The temperature is not the only thing that decreases during May. The amount of daylight hours also does. The sun rises between 7:05 a.m. and 7:40 a.m. at the beginning of May, and between 7:35 a.m. and 8:10 a.m. at the end of May. The sun sets between 5:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. at the beginning of May, and between 5:00 p.m. and 5:15 pm at the end of May.

This leaves you with a little bit more than 10 hours of daylight at the beginning of May, which decreases to a little bit more than 9 hours at the end of May.

The times mentioned above are for Wellington and Queenstown and may vary depending on where you are located in New Zealand.


This article falls under Travel Guide.

Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details
directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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