December marks the start of summer in New Zealand but the school holidays, which start in the middle of the month, also mean that everything is quite crowded. However, summer is when the kiwis fire the grills and start the summer festivals. It’s also the perfect time for hiking and enjoying outdoor activities.
December is the first month of summer in New Zealand. The days are long and sunny, with temperatures. The nights are mild. Expect rain in the far north part of the country.
Make sure to pack appropriate clothing and don’t forget your sunscreen.
Auckland avg high 20C / avg low 14C
Christchurch avg high 19C/ avg low 10C
Queenstown avg high 20C/ avg low 8C
Wellington avg high 17C/ avg low 12C
>>read more about Weather in New Zealand
Since December marks the start of summer, it also means the high season is in starting to put its touch on the hotel rates. Expect rooms to be more expensive than during the shoulder season (spring and fall). Book the hotel ahead of time as it’s possible to get lower rates. Also, consider staying in a hostel http://www.newzealandtravelguide.com/hostels .
As for the flights , check the various airlines flying into New Zealand. Also, you might find cheaper airfare if you are willing to fly into a different airport than your final destination and travel the last leg of the trip on land. And don’t forget to use those saved miles.
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Things to do
If you enjoy driving, rent a car and go for long scenic drives. There are many possible routes to enjoy, including: Christchurch to Lake Tepako, Christchurch to Queenstown, Tepako to Lake Pukaki, Queenstown to Glenorchy, or from Cromwell to Queenstown. Some of them go right by coast so you are rewarded with dramatic scenery of the rocky coastline and the beaches.
On the West Coast, you can also plan some day hikes such as going to the Mangatini Falls, or even hiking on one of the glaciers.
In Central Otago, you can visit the wineries, or just stop by a fruit stall and stock on fresh goodies before you plan a harder day hike or a picnic in nature.
Should you prefer to stay in the cities, Wellington is a good choice. Walk up to the lookout over the city (easily accessible from the city center). Or you can see the city from four more lookout points: Mount Victoria, Mount Kaukau, Wrights Hill and Massey Memorial. While you are in the city, spend a day visiting the important landmarks, such as Old St. Paul’s, Old Government Buildings or Te Papa (the national museum).
If you feel adventurous, climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge or hike on one of the many volcanic cones near the city. For fewer thrills, spend a day checking out the city’s sights or see the panoramic views from the Sky Tower.
Spend Christmas like the locals do: either go out camping or spend Christmas Day on the beach. Lunch should definitely be food cooked on the barbeque — how about some shrimps?