Find out whether March 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 March.
March marks the beginning of autumn in New Zealand.
All in all, March brings variety in the weather, an occasional feel of winter with a low sun, clear crisp blue skies, and a cool breeze.
While March is not the very best time to visit New Zealand and definitely not if you want to visit New Zealand for autumn colors, it is quieter than the summer months, and the weather is still good to be outdoors.
Just remember to bring warm clothing for those few chilly days and nights, especially if youâ€™re heading to the South Island.
Things to do in March in New Zealand
Just like in December, the weather in March is variable. So you should look for activities that you can do on sunny and on rainy days.
Most of the things you can do in summer, you can still do in March. This means that you can do any activity that does not require snow because ski fields are closed in March.
Water activities in March include sailing, cruising, fishing, jet boating, kayaking, and rafting. I think the water would be too cold in March to go for a swim, but you could give it a try.
Water activities can generally be done when it is raining but not if there is a storm, because the conditions would be too dangerous for such activities.
Air activities in March include scenic flights, hot-air ballooning, skydiving, paragliding, and bungy jumping.
Air activities generally require good weather although you could also bungy jump or canyon swing in the rain.
Land activities in March include horseback riding, walking, tramping (multi-day hiking), photography, quad biking, mountain biking, 4-wheel driving, scenic driving, golfing, shooting, climbing, or general sightseeing.
Land activities can generally be done on rainy days but are much more enjoyable on sunny days, especially if you are doing them for the scenery.
Places to visit in March in New Zealand
The same places you can visit in December you could visit in March.
While the mountains generally do not have much snow on them in March, except for the occasional dusting when a polar blast passes through, you still could head to places like Mount Cook National Park, Queenstown, and Wanaka because they should be a bit less crowded than they are in summer although this is slowly changing.
Because autumn colors are not yet on in March, I’d make March a largely bush walk month and go for walks in a place like Te Urewera National Park, which lies between the Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay on the North Island of New Zealand.
The advantage of choosing such a place to go to in March is that it offers a variety of locations that can be visited on sunny days (e.g., Lake Waikaremoana) and others on rainy days (e.g., several waterfalls) [Photo: Rere Falls on the North Island (36 KB)].
And because the East Coast of the North Island is not too far away, on sunny days, you could head to the coastal regions north of Gisborne and around Napier.
If you are visiting the South Island of New Zealand, and want to do something similar, you can visit the Catlins, which is located south of Dunedin.
There you could visit waterfalls on rainy days or the coast on sunny days. And for more coastal scenery, head to the Otago Peninsula.
New Zealand weather in March
The weather in March in New Zealand generally looks much like the weather in February but has a feel of winter to it.
The sun lies much lower on the horizon than it does in February and goes down much earlier than it does in February.
The transition from summer in New Zealand to autumn makes the weather very variable. March – and autumn as a whole – is a period of time when New Zealand can get storms, alternating days of sun with days of rain. But you can expect the sunny days to prevail in March.
In March, polar blasts start to hit the South Island, meaning that on some days the temperatures will drop and feel like winter.
Temperatures in March tend to fluctuate between 2 and 29 degrees Celsius (36 – 84 degrees Fahrenheit), depending on where you are located in the country.
Nights tend to be colder on the South Island than they are on the North Island, with temperatures dipping as low as 2 degrees Celsius on the South Island and 6 degrees Celsius on the North Island.
Days tend to be warmer on the South Island than they are on the North Island with the warmest places on the South Island being located on the eastern side of the Main Divide, for example in Christchurch or Ashburton.
Typically on the North Island, temperatures fluctuate between 6 and 27 degrees Celsius (43 – 81 degrees Fahrenheit).
Average daytime temperatures for the whole of New Zealand typically fluctuate between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius (64 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit), so March is still a pretty warm month to visit New Zealand.
The general trend is that rain tends to increase during the months of autumn, and March may sometimes be drier than February in some parts of the country. But in places like Queenstown and Wellington, March tends to bring more rain than April.
Coming out of summer, daylight hours continue to decrease in March. At the beginning of March, the sun generally rises between 7:00 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. and sets between 8:05 p.m. and 8:35 p.m., so you would have approximately 13 hours of daylight at the beginning of March.
At the end of March, the sun generally rises between 7:35 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and sets between 7:15 p.m. and 7:40 p.m., so you would have almost 12 hours of daylight at the end of March.
The times mentioned above are for Wellington and Queenstown and may vary depending on where you are located in New Zealand.
Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.