New Zealand’s least sunny destinations for those who hate the heat –

Posted: January 14, 2022 at 8:44 pm

Not everyone loves the sun. For some of us, that deadly ball of gas and plasma is our worst enemy, causing unbearable heat and wreaking havoc on our skin.

If you are among those who suffer from intolerance to the sun, it may be tempting to wait out the warmer months in the safety of the air-conditioned indoors, rather than brave the traditional summer hotspots.

Or you could try a shadier destination. Niwa has just released its hotly-anticipated climate summary for 2021, which as well as crowning New Zealands sunshine capital, also reveals the places that enjoyed the fewest sunshine hours last year.

Here are New Zealands least sunny destinations for those of us who cant stand the heat.

READ MORE:* The best tiny towns of the West Coast * Bold claims: Is Whakatne really New Zealand's 'sunshine capital'?* Five of the South Island's quirkiest small towns

John Bisset/Stuff

The South Otago town of Balclutha is officially New Zealands shade capital.

The South Otago town of Balclutha boasted the fewest sunshine hours in New Zealand in 2021 just 1628, compared to the sunniest destination, New Plymouth, which experienced an oppressive 2592 sunshine hours.

Balclutha is best known as the gateway to the Catlins, but also has plenty on offer for those wanting to stick around to enjoy its shade. Take a relaxing, sweat-free stroll along the Blair Athol Walkway, an hour-and-a-half-long nature walk that takes you along the banks of the Clutha River the second-longest river in New Zealand. The river also offers great salmon and trout fishing.

Foodies can follow the Taste of Clutha trail, which showcases the best local produce around the Clutha district. And dont miss The Punt at Tuapeka Mouth, about a half-hour drive from Balclutha the historic ferry is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, taking passengers and their cars (or even campervans) across the river for free.


A cruise around the Tasman Glacial Lake with Glacier Explorers is ideal for those who prefer cooler climes.

Aotearoas highest mountain is a brilliant sun block, with just 1652 sunshine hours reported there in 2021. There are many activities you can do in the cool comfort of the mountains shadow.

The Hooker Valley track is one of the best short walks in the country, its accessible flat path taking you through spectacular alpine scenery right to the foot of the mighty maunga. Or if you really want to cool down, head to Tasman Glacier, New Zealands longest glacier you can even cruise around the lake in a boat and see the icebergs, on a Glacier Explorers tour. Its the closest thing youll get to Antarctica in Aotearoa.

Another of the area's top attractions allows you to avoid the sun altogether. Aoraki is part of an international dark sky reserve, offering some of the best stargazing in the world. You can take a tour of the night sky with Big Sky Stargazing at the Hermitage Hotel.

John Hawkins/Stuff

Enjoy a beach day from the comfort of your car at reti Beach.

No worries if you forget your sunglasses when visiting Invercargill our southernmost city experienced just 1704 hours of sunshine in 2021, making it the perfect city break for shade seekers.

Queens Park is the best place to make the most of the comfortable temperatures. Located in the heart of the city, highlights of the 80-hectare park include all kinds of gardens, an aviary and animal reserve, a popular playground and waterpark, and an 18-hole golf course.

Even if you normally loathe the beach, youll enjoy a trip to reti Beach, just a few minutes from the city centre. Its main point of difference is that its one of the few beaches in New Zealand you can drive on, so you can still enjoy a beach experience while avoiding the unpleasant aspects (namely, the sun and sand).


Despite the lack of sunshine, theres nothing dim about Reefton.

The West Coast town of Reefton only had 1751 sunshine hours in 2021, but its known for light of a different kind it was the first town in New Zealand to get electricity, back in 1888.

There are several interesting walks you can do around the historic town, including the Bottled Lightning Powerhouse Walk, which takes you to the powerhouse site where New Zealands first public supply of electricity was generated.

If you think gin and tonics should be reserved for sunny evenings, think again. At Reefton Distilling Co, they know how to make the most of the areas weather, using the abundance of fresh rainwater and native botanicals to make gin, as well as whisky, vodka and other liqueurs. You can visit their cellar door or take a tour of the distillery.


Forget the sun amid the dramatic landscapes of Middlemarch, youll feel like youre on the moon.

Want to avoid the suns harsh rays on your road trip? An hours drive inland from Dunedin youll find yourself in the township of Middlemarch, which recorded 1756 sunshine hours in 2021.

Many people will come here to start or finish the Otago Central Rail Trail, but if the thought of cycling in the sweltering Central Otago heat doesnt appeal, there are other cycle trips you can do without leaving the area, like the Middlemarch Explorer cycle loop. You can also make your way to New Zealands only inland salt water lake, the striking Sutton Salt Lake.

More adventurous visitors can also hike up to the Rock and Pillar Range, which featured in The Hobbit. With its other-worldly rock tors and eerie cloud formations, youll feel like youre on the moon.

Warwick Smith/Stuff

Palmerston North might be the North Islands least sunny spot, but it still boasts some beautiful gardens.

If youre looking to escape the sun in the North Island, your best bet is Palmerston North, which had a refreshing total of 1827 sunshine hours in 2021.

The Victoria Esplanade Gardens are a highlight in not-so-balmy-Palmy, boasting 26 hectares of bush walks, bike tracks and gardens, plus a playground, paddling pool and even a miniature railway to keep the kids entertained. You can also enjoy a leisurely walk or cycle along the Manawat River Pathway.

Palmerston North isnt just cool when it comes to temperature its also getting serious cred as a street art hub, with murals and colourful graffiti adorning the citys walls. Grab a map and take yourself on a walking tour to see them, or head down Berrymans Lane to see Melbourne-like masterpieces.

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New Zealand's least sunny destinations for those who hate the heat -

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