The Best Time to Visit Wellington

If you ask a Wellingtonian when the best time is to visit Wellington, they will say ‘any time’. We may be biased, but with its moderate temperatures, vibrant compact city centre, focus on the arts, great cafes and a specular view from every hilltop (and there are a lot of those!) we think the locals are right, Wellington is a year-round destination.

A favourite local saying, (and in our view, truism) is that ‘You can’t beat Wellington on a good day’. You may have to wait a few days to get the good one, but it will definitely be worth the wait. From long summer days to crisp winter evenings, the curious traveller will always find something to do in this small, but perfectly formed, capital city and its surrounding region.

Wellington City

Wellington City, or Te Whanganui-a-Tara (The Great Harbour of Tara), New Zealand’s capital, is at the southern tip of the North Island.

To say that the city is perched on the hills surrounding the harbour is not an exaggeration. Many of the city’s dwellings are engineering feats in their own right. The hills provide a lot of green space that Wellingtonian’s enjoy, particularly for mountain-biking, running and walking.

Wellington enjoys smaller crowds year-round. Travelling in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn will guarantee you get to enjoy a relaxed pace, empty beaches and room to breathe.

While it enjoys a reputation as a windy city (more on that later), don’t let that deter you from experiencing the city’s easy pace, compact centre, artistic spirit and those spectacular views. All you need is a quality wind proof jacket!

The weather

Let’s get the curly question out of the way first – is it windy?

Yes, it is windy – only 10% of our days are calm. There’s a reason the uTours by-line is ‘Be blown away by Wellington’ – you’ve got to work with what you’ve got, right?

The city is located in the Roaring Forties, (between 40-50 degrees latitude) where gale-force westerly winds often hang out. These winds are channelled through the strait that separates the North and South Islands and are further squeezed by the mountainous landscapes on either side of the city.

This all adds up to a city with more wind overall than Chicago. America’s windy city has an average wind speed of 16.6 km/h, Wellington on the other hand has an average of 22 km/h, with more frequent and stronger wind gusts. Historically the windiest months are October and November, so if you really can’t cope with the wind, best to avoid that time of the year.


Wellington enjoys a very moderate climate year-round. It seldom rises above 25◦ C (77◦ F) or drops below 5◦ (41◦F). The warmest months are December to February, but you can still get some hot days through to the end of March/early April. March and April are often less windy, so can be a great time to visit.


Wellington gets about 1200 mm of rain each year. The wettest months are June, July and August (no surprises there, it’s Winter). The driest months are January and February.

Like the rest of the country, the weather can be changeable so it is best to pack clothing that can be worn in layers and always bring a water/wind proof jacket. Wellington is the city where umbrellas come to die (see the first section of this guide on wind). We suggest you leave your umbrella in your hotel room/cruise suite while you are here.

Water temperature

While Wellington can enjoy summer temperatures in the mid- late 20s (77◦ – 85◦F), the water remains chilly. In the summer the sea temperature may reach the heady heights of 18◦C (64.4◦F), however it is more likely to sit around 16◦ – 17◦(60◦-62◦F). But Wellingtonians are hardy souls and you will still see many enjoying a quick dip in the myriad of little bays around the harbour over summer.

What’s on

No matter what the weather is doing, as the cultural (as well as the political) capital of New Zealand, Wellington always has something on. Here are some of our favourite regular events and suggested activities for each of the seasons.

Summer (December – February)

Summer has mild temperatures (averages in the early 20s C). It’s a great time to enjoy Wellington’s many walks, picnics in the parks or a visit to the many little beaches around the coast. This is the high season for visitors.

Gardens Magic

Gardens Magic , hosted by the Wellington City Council in the Botanic Gardens, includes a free concert series, light display, kids garden trail and daytime art classes over the month of January.

(Image source Wellington City Counci)

Wellington Dragon Boat Festival

Wellington Dragon Boat Festival , usually over the last weekend of February, is New Zealand’s biggest dragon boating festival. Enjoy the stunning Wellington Harbour while catching the boating action which is close to the city centre.

Local fairs and markets

(Image source

In the lead-up to the holiday season there are many local fairs and markets to enjoy, the biggest of these is the iconic Thorndon Fair usually held on the first Sunday of December.

Autumn (March – May)

Many consider this to be the best time of the year to visit Wellington as the weather is still warm, so you can do all the summer activities, but the crowds have thinned.


The Homegrown festival is New Zealand music’s biggest event. It brings together a huge line-up of New Zealand bands and DJs across multiple stages to celebrate the full range of contemporary New Zealand music. In a unique approach, the festival allows fans to come and go between the different stages over the day, so you can enjoy Wellington’s beautiful waterfront while you are there.


CubaDupa – Wellington Street Festival

This free family-friendly event is two days of music, art, parades, dance, body paint, and more. It is well worth timing your visit to Wellington to experience this event.

(Image credit Jo Mohi)

Karukatea Book Festival – Featherston

The Karukatea Book Festival is an annual event held in the booktown of Featherston, an hour’s drive from the centre of Wellington. Enjoy an iconic New Zealand road trip over to the Wairarapa to explore the rural heart of the Wellington region.

Winter (June – August)

With its mild temperatures, (daytime averages of 10◦-11) Winter can also be a good time to visit. Wellington’s many museums, galleries, craft breweries, cafes and eateries provide lots

of indoor entertainment and you can’t beat a walk around Wellington’s South Coast on a crisp winter’s day.


Celebrate Matariki (the Māori New Year) with events around the city. Matariki Puanga – Events and festivals – Wellington City Council

Greytown Festival of Christmas

(Photo supplied by Country Village Heaven)

The Festival of Christmas is held annually in the Wairarapa town of Greytown, about a 90 minute drive from Wellington. The festival is a month-long programme of lights, workshops, night markets and much more running from the end of June. It is set in the middle of one of New Zealand’s Dark Sky Reserves, making it a stargazing and photographer’s dream.

Visa Wellington on a Plate

(Image supplied by VWOP)

As the organisers say, Wellington is a small city with a big appetite. Each year Wellington’s hospitality community hosts Aotearoa’s largest food festival: Visa Wellington on a Plate

This month-long festival sees the Greater Wellington region transform into a foodie’s paradise. 2024’s theme ‘Play with your food’ has been embraced by the hundreds of hospitality businesses from across the region take part in the festival.


Beervana Festival is a two-day celebration of good beer which takes place at the Sky Stadium at the end of August.

Spring (September – November)

Spring brings warmer temperatures but is historically the windiest time of the year. You can start to enjoy our summer activities (but maybe wait a while to go swimming in the sea!)

World of Wearable Art (WOW)

WOW is an internationally renowned show that has been described as Broadway meets Cirque Du Soleil. It is an annual extravaganza of fashion, art performance and music that brings thousands of visitors into the city.

Blossom Valley Festival

Spring is the perfect time to visit the Aston Norwood Nursery , just a 40 minute drive from the centre of Wellington where over 350 Sakura cherry trees bloom during the annual Blossom Valley festival.

(Photo supplied by Aston Norwood Nursery)


It is always a good time to visit Wellington! It is never very hot, or very cold (but it may well be windy).

Whether festivals, events, music, art, food, coffee nature, architecture or stunning views are your thing, as a year-round destination, Wellington has you covered.

Come prepared for a little bit of everything, with clothing layers, sunscreen, a wind-proof jacket and a sense of adventure – you will have a great time in Wellington. Check out our blog on the best things to do in Wellington here.