New Zealand is quite a long country, spanning roughly 870 miles (1400 km) from Cape Reinga in the subtropical north to Bluff in the temperate south. That means there's a lot of climatic variety, especially when you factor in the mountain chains that run through both islands, and the long coastline that hugely affects the weather.
April is mid-autumn in New Zealand, and in general, daytime temperatures are moderately warm, nighttime temperatures cool, and rainfall higher than in the summer.
In the northern North Island (Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula), April high temperatures can still reach 68° F (20° C), sometimes warmer. When the sun's out, it may still be comfortable to swim in the sea, especially earlier in the month. In fact, sea temperatures are often warmer in March and April than earlier in the summer, as they've had months of warm weather to heat up.
Further south, cities like Wellington and Christchurch can be quite cool in April, with average highs around 60° F (16° C). Nights will be colder. Mountainous areas on both islands, but especially the south, can be quite wintry in April, with snow on the hills and crisp temperatures (ski season, however, doesn't start until June). But, you can still expect some warmer temperatures in the daytime in towns like Queenstown and Wanaka, with average highs on a par with coastal Christchurch.
New Zealand is quite a wet country and you can't rule out rain at any time of year. April isn't as wet as the winter months, but it's more so than the summer. In general, the further north you go, the wetter the weather, with Auckland receiving significantly more rain in April than Christchurch (Auckland being at the top of the North Island, and Christchurch about half-way down the South Island).
Crowds and Costs
April is shoulder season in New Zealand. Crowds and costs aren't as high as in the summer (December-February), but because of relatively warm temperatures, it's still busier than the winter (June-August).
Easter often falls in April, and New Zealand schools, as well as many workplaces, take holidays over Easter. New Zealanders like to get out and about and explore their own country. So, you can expect to see a lot of domestic tourists, especially families, if you're traveling in New Zealand over the Easter break. Accommodation prices in popular places may be higher at this time. If you plan on crossing the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands, it would be a good idea to book as far in advance as possible.
Where to Go
To experience a last gasp of summery weather, head to Northland, the wider Auckland region, and the Coromandel Peninsula. There's no guarantee you'll get beach weather in April, but temperatures are consistently higher in the north, so you have a good chance.
If you're seeking crisp autumn weather and mountain vistas, the mountains of the South Island are a good destination. Come winter, snowfall can block some roads, and make temperatures colder. But in April, places like Queenstown, Wanaka, Arrowtown, Lake Tekapo, and Aoraki Mount Cook are very scenic. Plus, temperatures are warm enough that you can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking without being uncomfortable.
Conditions are also generally good at the top of the South Island in April. The small city of Nelson often takes the honor of sunniest city in the country, and nearby Golden Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, and the Marlborough Sounds are good places to enjoy outdoor sightseeing when the sun is shining.
Rotorua and Taupo, in the central North Island, are popular destinations throughout the year because of their natural beauty and strong Maori cultural attractions. They're also full of natural hot springs, from fancy spa resorts to natural pools out in nature. April is a great time to enjoy these, because a hot spring bath is much more appealing when the weather is cool.
What to Do
Experienced hikers will find April a good time to go on short or long-distance hikes in New Zealand. Extreme care should always be taken in alpine areas, even in summer, as conditions can change quickly. But, hikes at lower elevation are perfectly accessible in April, and the most popular trails (such as in the Abel Tasman National Park) are likely to be less busy during this month. You may wish to book a bed in Department of Conservation (DOC) huts though, rather than camp in April.
April is a good time to do general sightseeing in New Zealand. Cities like Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin have lots of galleries, museums, and restaurants that can be enjoyed in any weather. Some other outdoor sightseeing, like dolphin or whale-watching tours, can also be enjoyed in almost any weather, although cruises may be canceled if there's a lot of rain or wind.
Easter. This Christian holiday often falls in April. Although not everyone observes the holiday from a religious perspective, schools are on vacation and many workplaces, too. The sale of alcohol is prohibited on Easter Sunday and Good Friday, unless you're buying it to drink with a meal in a licensed restaurant.
National Jazz Festival, Tauranga. This jazz festival began in 1962, making it the longest-running jazz festival in the Southern Hemisphere.
Traveling to New Zealand in April? Check out these great itineraries
Highlights of New Zealand - 10 Days. This action-packed itinerary dives into New Zealand's South and North Islands for a wide variety of landscapes and attractions.
South Island Highlights and New Zealand Wines - 12 Days. Travel through New Zealand's beautiful South Island, getting to know its cultural hotspots, famous landscapes and public gardens, and sprawling vineyards along the way.
New Zealand's North Island - 6 Days. From Auckland to Taupo, this six-day itinerary presents the highlights of the North Island's diverse and dramatic landscapes.