The Seasons In Mackenzie Country
Spring in New Zealand spans September, October and November although it arrives a little later in the high country. Expect a mixture of weather in spring, it can be unsettled with the occasional snow fall. Often the day will dawn with a chilly frost but this usually means a brilliant blue sky day will follow. Crisp, sunny days can also change quickly to cooler temperatures. High country spring weather is famous for changing suddenly especially around the mountains. It’s often four seasons in one day, so be sure to dress in layers so you can remove jackets & sweaters as the day warms up or replace them just as quickly.
The mountains are typically still snowy at this time of year & most of the local ski fields are open until mid or late September. Spring is a great time to get outdoors- before the weather gets too hot- and explore the many walking & cycling trails around Twizel or fish the local canals for salmon & trout. Daylight saving starts at the end of September so you can enjoy longer days and lighter evenings through October.
Spring is also the ideal time to visit Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, to see our tallest mountain and explore the fabulous Hooker Valley and view the Tasman Glacier. Mackenzie Country is famous for its beautiful turquoise coloured lakes & canals and there’s no better time than spring to see them when the spring snow melt flows into the alpine lakes. During the melt the glaciers in the lake headwaters grind rock to a fine dust. The resulting particles, called ‘rock flour’ are suspended in the water and carried down to the lakes. This causes the magnificent milky turquoise colour.
Spring also brings splashes of colour back to the high country from the many wild flowers that bloom throughout the region including the beautiful lupins.
In Twizel, the spring average high temperature is 24°C and the average low is 4°C.
New Zealand's summer months are December, January and February. Summer in Twizel is hot without being humid, the sunshine hours are high and rain is rare. Twizel’s local lakes; Ruataniwha, Benmore & Ohau are ideal for water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding or swimming on those long hot days of summer. You can also go cycling or mountain biking on the local trails, these give you the chance to see some of the best scenery in the country. And take a dip in a lake to cool off afterwards.
Nearby Loch Cameron or the Old Iron Bridge lagoon are ideal spots to take a picnic, have a swim or relax in the shade & watch the locals enjoying these tiny lakes. If you’re out enjoying the sunshine don’t forget your sunscreen, New Zealand’s sun is a lot harsher than in others parts of the world. You don’t want to ruin your holiday with a bad case of sunburn; ear tips, noses & the tops of your feet are the places often forgotten & the first to burn.
Summer is the high season so booking in advance for tours & Night Sky Cottages accommodation is highly recommended. Public holidays, such as Christmas, New Year, Waitangi Day and Canterbury’s Anniversary days, are particularly busy. This is when Kiwis also get away to enjoy a break. Book a glacier heli-hike on Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain or a scenic flight over the National Park. Tandem skydive from Twizel’s Pukaki Airport and see the spectacular Mackenzie Basin from the air.
February is one of the hottest months of the year in Twizel, relax on the deck at Night Sky Cottages with a cool drink and enjoy the balmy evenings after a day out exploring. Kahu Cottage’s hot tub can become a plunge pool to cool off too. Watch the sun go down behind the mountains and the stars arrive as twilight turns to darkness.
In Twizel, the summer average high temperature is 29°C and the average low is 7°C.
Autumn is a glorious time of the year to visit Twizel. During the months of March, April and May the high country tussock grasslands turn to fields of gold contrasting spectacularly with bright blue skies & a riot of autumn colours- burnt orange, hues of yellow and brilliant reds- that are displayed by the exotic trees that fringe the lakes & ponds in the district. It’s a photographers dream, with stunning colours and calm reflective waters.
By visiting during autumn the summer crowds are avoided while still enjoying the sunshine. Long sunny days tend to linger well into autumn but the nights begin to get chilly around mid-April as winter approaches. Temperatures start to dip and the days are calm and clear. The autumn equinox is also a time of increased solar storms which signal the start of the heightened Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights) activity. Depending on their intensity auroras can be seen clearly from Night Sky Cottages.
Cooler temperatures make April a great time for hiking & biking. Salmon fishing around the canals is also very popular during autumn (don’t forget to purchase a fishing license). When planning any outdoor activities, be sure to check the weather in advance and understand the conditions. In mountainous areas, late autumn can bring snow or heavy rain, so be prepared. School holidays usually fall in April, along with the Easter long weekend and ANZAC day, another public holiday. A lot of Kiwis travel during this time so attractions and accommodation can all be busier during this month, so it's worth making plans in advance.
If you're heading to Twizel during May, pack warm clothes as temperatures can dip below freezing overnight. Kahu & Kea Cottages will keep you toasty warm with log burners, heat pumps & electric blankets.
In Twizel, the autumn average high temperature is 24°C and the average low is 3°C
Be prepared for chilly temperatures along with brilliant blue sky days in the high country during the winter months of June, July & August. Snow falls around the cottages occasionally during winter, although it doesn't usually settle for long so be sure to enjoy the experience. Along with snow, you may also encounter frosts, fog, the odd day of rain and if you're lucky an elusive but spectacular hoar frost.
The cottages with their double glazed windows are lovely & warm inside. They come equipped with a wood-burner, heat pump & an electric blanket on the bed. Hot water bottles are also available. And if you book Kahu Cottage you'll be able to enjoy relaxing in the hot tub under the stars (or falling snow). The cedar clad, stainless steel double tub is tucked into the garden just off the bedroom deck.
Bring plenty of layers of clothing to wear and wrap up warm when you venture outside; winter in the Mackenzie is a spectacular time to visit, to explore and enjoy a very unique landscape. It's a winter wonderland & also a photographer's paradise.
Night Sky Cottages are located within the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, one of the best places in the world to view the amazing night sky. The galactic core of the Milky Way galaxy is visible from the months of February to October in the Southern Hemisphere. And during the winter months of June and July the core is at its brightest. Look for the Galactic Kiwi as you watch the beautiful Milky Way rise overhead.
Winter is also the best time to view the the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis), the nights are long & the atmosphere crisp & clear.
In Twizel, the winter average high temperature is 15°C and the average low is -5°C