I may have the opportunity to go to the South Island of New Zealand in mid-May. I know it is getting close to winter then. Will I be disappointed in the weather I encounter? Will it inhibit our ability to really enjoy the beautiful scenery? My other choice is mid-January, however we would also go to Cairns which is hot, humid and rainy then!! Thanks!
I live in Christchurch and May is at the end of autumn and just entering winter. You still have a fair bit of sunshine. You can expect rains occasionally but that will not hinder with most of the activities as it rains for short periods normally and then you get the sun . It is chilly early mornings and evenings.The average temperature hovers between 18°c and 5°c(65°F and 40°F). And there are no road closures around alpine passes which are quite common in winter. Less crowds relatively as it is neither summer nor ski season.
January is peak summer so the weather is good depending on where you are coming from. Occasional rains. With so many water bodies around it is a good time to go for a dip if you like it. The lakes look magical in summers. But it is also when you see the most tourists in South Island.
I do not think weather is going to affect the scenery much during your intended travel times. The only deterrent is the rain but as I mentioned it comes in short bursts so you still get to see a lot. That said I personally love the winter scenes when there are snow capped mountains, frozen lakes and some snow around. But I love the south island in all seasons with no traffic and the calm and that is why I live here.
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My last trip to the SI was a few years back in early-mid may and the colors were still pretty prominent, especially around Queenstown and the vineyards near Blenheim. The weather was cool (definitely jacket weather) and we got rain off and on, but I would not let it keep you from visiting. I've been there during the spring, fall and winter. It's an amazing country, anytime of year.
Good time to look into ski trips there( May). Think Nov, Dec in North America. For scenery/ trekking Jan time-frame would be my choice.
Cheers, grab a L&P for me !
It will be late autumn.
I don't think it will inhibit you at all but it's not going to be the prettiest time of all, i.e not autumn colours left and not quite time for snow in the ski fields.
SI can be rainy at times, especially the west coast
I have been there in May. The weather was ok, with a medium jacket, but the days are short and the low hanging sun/long shadows were a bit depressing to me. But it was affordable at that time of year and if you can handle less daylight for seeing things, it's ok. NZ is fabulous, period.