November is a pleasant time to travel in New Zealand, as it's late spring. Temperatures can be quite summery in the middle of the day, but you should still expect colder nights and early mornings. Average daytime high temperatures in spring range from 59° F (15° C) in Wellington and 61° F (16° C) in Queenstown, to 66° F (19° C) in the Bay of Islands and 64° F (18° C) in Auckland. By the end of November most of these temperatures will be a few degrees higher.
Rainfall varies enormously across New Zealand, depending on latitude and proximity to the sea and mountains. Rainfall is average in most places in November. Rain is not uncommon in New Zealand at any time of year, but November isn't especially wet. In parts of the South Island there may be more rain in the spring than in the winter, but the North Island is generally wettest in winter, making late spring a better time to visit. Wherever you go though, pack a raincoat or umbrella and be prepared to check local forecasts before heading out for a full day outdoors.
Crowds and Costs
November, and spring in general (September to November), is shoulder season in New Zealand. The relatively good weather and warmer temperatures after the winter attract more foreign tourists. New Zealanders themselves don't tend to take vacation until December and January, so you won't be competing for space with domestic tourists.
In many places you can expect to pay low or shoulder-season prices for accommodation, domestic flights shouldn't be hard to get at reasonable prices, and rental cars might be cheaper than in the summer.
Where to Go
Many parts of New Zealand are lovely in November, as long as you're aware that the weather might not always be hot and summery.
If you like warmer temperatures and want to check out some of New Zealand's best beaches, head to Northland. The sea is still likely to be a bit cool after the winter, but on a hot day you might want to take a dip. In general, the beaches on the east coast of Northland—and through the whole country—are better for swimming. The black-sand beaches of the west coast can be dramatic, but are also pretty wild, so aren't so safe.
The Bay of Islands is always popular and for many very good reasons, and it's likely to be less crowded in November than in the summer, so make the most of it in this month. Northland also has fantastic native kauri forests to explore. If your plans don't include going so far north, the Coromandel Peninsula, east of Auckland, is similar.
The area around Nelson at the top of the South Island is a great place to head in November. You can enjoy the best New Zealand experiences—mountains, beaches, lakes, forests—in a relatively small geographic area. If you only have a short time in New Zealand, the 'top of the South' offers an ideal microcosm of the whole country. Within a couple of hours' drive of the small city of Nelson are three national parks—Abel Tasman, Kahurangi, and Nelson Lakes—as well as the unparalleled Marlborough Sounds, and quirky, frontier-esque Golden Bay.
What to Do
Keen hikers have plenty of options in November. This is a great time of year to do lower-altitude hikes, such as the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Crowds are less than they will be later, and conditions are generally good. Department of Conservation (DOC) huts mean you don't need to camp on overnight treks, unless you really want to. Be aware that treks in alpine regions (such as the Tongariro Crossing, the Routeburn Track, and trails in the Nelson Lakes National Park) can experience snow or other extreme weather in November (and at any time of year), so be very well prepared.
If you want to self-drive around the mountainous parts of the South Island, November is a good time to do it. Freak weather events aside, the mountain roads and passes won't pose any particular issues (as they sometimes do in winter), and while tourists numbers will be picking up, the roads won't be as busy as they get during the Christmas holidays.
Wine enthusiasts should check out some of the country's famous wineries. While cellar doors and restaurants at vineyards are accessible at any time of year, the vibrant colors of spring and the warmer weather make this a nice time to tour the vineyards, possibly on a bike. The Hawke's Bay, Marlborough, Wairarapa, and Central Otago regions offer the most options.
Toast Martinborough. Several vineyards in this famous wine-producing town in the lower North Island participate in this annual wine festival.
Traveling to New Zealand in November? Check out these great itineraries
New Zealand Cities, Parks, and Mountains -12 Days. This 12-day tour features a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. Explore New Zealand's cities, mountain landscapes, native bush, and beaches, starting in the North Island and traveling south.
New Zealand's North Island - 7 Days. This self-drive itinerary hits the highlights of New Zealand's North Island, and includes a wide array of activities and landscapes, traveling from Auckland to Rotorua.
South Island Highlights and New Zealand Wines - 12 Days. Travel through New Zealand's beautiful South Island, getting to know its cultural hot-spots, famous landscapes, public gardens, and sprawling vineyards along the way.