When to Go
Nelson and Marlborough are delightful year-round, but beach activities are best from December to mid-March if you plan to be in the water. From Christmas through January some places can be busy with New Zealanders on their own vacations so book ahead. Snow generally covers the mountains from June through October. Don’t let this stop you from driving through these regions; scenically they will look even more stunning. Sperm whales and dolphins live year-round off the coast of Kaikoura. Humpback whales visit in early winter. The pleasures of winter weather around the West Coast glaciers—clear skies and no snow at sea level—are a well-kept local secret. Look into local festival schedules; they occur year-round.