Being Prepared for New Zealand’s Weather

by isvolunteers on Monday, 23 March 2015

volunteer in new zealand

Well dressed ISV volunteers (on a not-too-cold-day): study boots, thermal underwear, long pants and layers (c) ISV

Volunteering in New Zealand with ISV this May to September? Then read up to learn how you can stay safe, comfortable and warm this winter during your ISV volunteer and travel program.

Yes, New Zealand is a group of islands in the South Pacific, but this doesn’t mean that it is tropical! The weather in New Zealand is described as temperate and as NZ is located in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to that of North America and the UK/Europe.

volunteers in new zealand

Quick photo stop! Snow-capped Tongariro National Park in the background (c) ISV.

May to September is WINTER so depending on where you are in New Zealand at any point in time it could be mild and sunny or freezing cold and snowing!  Because of this, you should be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature.  Winter in the North Island tends to be milder than the South, but has more rainfall in the winter while the South Island is much colder than the north but tends to be dryer – which leads to beautiful frosts and sometimes snow.

So how can we pack accordingly for wintertime conditions for the ISV Program? Rule number one – Cotton Kills!  This is a phrase we have in New Zealand and is really important when working in the outdoors.  Cotton when wet is heavy and dries VERY slowly.  It also stays cold and draws warmth away from the body, which can be dangerous when working in cold and wet weather conditions.

what to pack for New Zealand winterExamples of clothing that is typically made from cotton are your standard t-shirts, jeans and denim items, brushed cotton hoodies, some long underwear and tracksuit pants.  You can check the clothing labels to find out if an item of clothing is cotton.  Not to say that cotton is all bad – it makes very comfortable clothes to lounge around in after a hard days work or during your free time.  It is just important to avoid cotton when choosing your outdoor clothes for your ISV NZ adventure.

Pack your beanie, thermal underwear, fleece jacket and wet-weather gear, plus some clothing for when it’s warmer too! Layering is the key to keeping warm and comfortable in New Zealand.

Note – New Zealand uses Celsius (C) as opposed to Fahrenheit (F). The easiest way to calculate the difference is to double the Celsius degrees and add 30. This is accurate within 1-2 degrees.

For example: 20°C equals 70°F (20 x 2 = 40 + 30 = 70). 

Otherwise there are loads of quick calculators like this one, online.

To learn more about ISV’s amazing programs in New Zealand please visit our website:

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