When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.
September and October. Rain season is finished and there is not too much snow.
If you like to experience New Zealand's outstanding rainforests without any crowds this may be one of the best hikes for it. Regarding the weather check the forecast first. The trail is pretty steep, slippery and muddy. Plan an entire day for this strenuous track.
Mild temps throughout the year; neither hot nor freezing cold. The annual rainfall at Lake Kaniere is up to 4000 mm high. If it rains it pours but can be dry and beautiful as well.
- Summer; Average day temps are 18-20°C and around 10°C in the night. Comfortable for camping. Precipitation occurs more often at this time of the year.
Winter; Average day temps are above 10°C with a significant drop in the night. During winter expect snow on the top of Mount Tuhua on 1.125 m elevation. The weather is more stable with clear days.
[updated by When to be Where]
The glacier is open year-round. The best time to visit Franz Josef depends on what you’re looking for. Mild temperatures? Ice highlights? Fewer Crowds? Read on for our detailed ‘WHEN TO GO’ tips:
Weather / Crowds / Highlights
In general, the weather is highly unpredictable in this region, regardless of the season. Within one day it can change radically. Always bring rain gear, despite a sunny weather forecast. The Franz Josef town experiences more than 5 liters of rain each year and 10-15 meters of snow at the top of the glacier. However, in the winter it’s more stable.
June - August (winter): Temperatures are low: 5 – 15°C (41-57°F), but the weather is more stable than during other seasons. Winter has the clearest days; everything is clean and pristine. Highlight: The ice moves less in winter, resulting in amazing ice features like crevasses and ice caves which stay much longer. There are significantly fewer tourists, and it’s a lot quieter than in summer months.
September - November (spring): Temperatures are rising: 9 – 17°C (48-63°F). September is still quiet but also still a cool month with 6-13°C. October gets a little more busy and warmer. November is already peak season which means it gets crowded during the day.
December - February (summer): Mild daytime temperatures between 12 and 25°C (53-77°F). Great for exploring. However, the weather is very unpredictable and can quickly change from sun to heavy rainfall which might last for hours or even days. It’s also the very busy peak season: Starting in November (spring) and lasting until March with up to 2700 tourists each day. Be prepared for crowded tracks and photo spots.
March - May (fall): Temperatures continue to be pleasant: 9 – 17°C (48-63°F). However, be prepared for rain like in the summer. In March it’s still busy. The heavy crowds start to dissipate during April and thin out even more in May.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
It’s usually very busy and crowded in high season between November and March with one million visitors each year. Especially if you want to take the popular 45 minutes walk to the glacier (90 minutes round trip). Although there is plenty of parking space, it fills up pretty quick by mid-morning. In peak season it can become quite difficult to find a parking spot after 10 AM. The main track itself gets crowded as well, although it thins out a little as you near the glacier. When parts of the track are closed during or after heavy rainfall, it feels even more crowded. Moreover, the helicopter sightseeing and hiking flights start at 8 AM making a lot of noise. Expect one helicopter each minute during the peak season. To dodge the crowds and avoid the disturbing helicopter noise be there early around 7 AM. You’ll experience a much more peaceful walk to the glacier and enjoy the fascinating sights in solitude. You might also try to go after 5 PM in the summer, after 3 PM in the winter when the crowds dissipated again and heli flights are terminated for the day. However, the views often get worse since the clouds descend later in the day.
Where to Stay
- Best Hotels - Franz Josef. Use the comfortable search: Enter your preferred dates and then check the list of hotels. Make sure to change the search criteria to your liking at the top bar. We usually select 'Review Score & Price'.
- Top Tip: Aspen Court Franz Josef. Outstanding experience! Great location close to hot pools (across the road) and restaurants. 10-minute drive (google maps route) to the Glacier parking lot. Friendly staff, clean and modern rooms (hotel opened December 2013), some rooms have a spa bath!
- We'd chosen the Glacier Highway Motel opened in December 2017. All have a kitchenette, the motel is quietly located, and the staff is super friendly.
Best time for hiking the Kalalau trail is the "dry" season between May and October anyway rain always occur. After Hanakāpīʻai Beach it is almost impossible to hike this trail in very wet conditions. It is very slippery and muddy on the narrow footpath. The only option is a pair of mini-crampons.
Trail closure due to immense flooding mid-April 2018. The highway and bridges to the Haena State Park got also flooded and destroyed. The park and trail remain closed for an indefinite time. Local people believe it will take almost a year due to the massive destruction. Meanwhile, it looked like the trail could be reopened in December, but we still believe that the locals are right. If you need to get your permit refunded, you have to call (808) 274-3444. Do you look for alternatives to explore the Napali Coast? Scroll down for more details.
Kauai is wetter than the other Hawaiian Islands, therefore, called "The Garden Island". The rainy season starts in November and lasts until April. The north and east coast gets more rain than south and west which is the leeward side. Mostly showers are short, often in the night, and the sun returns quickly.
The first part of the trail until the Hanakāpīʻai Beach is accessible without a permit. The reason that it gets super busy here. Afterwards, the crowds thin out. The Kalalau Trail is almost always fully booked. You have to get your permit far in advance. Tuesdays are not always full due to Haena Park closure. Shoulder season in spring between mid-April to mid-June and in fall from September to October. Crowded during summer with hikers and kayaks, during Christmas, New Year's Eve, Independence Day and June 9th is a bank holiday.
Parking at the Kalalau Trail
Limited parking at Haena State Park. Arrive early the car park fills up quickly. Don't leave any luggage in the car. It is not safe, and the car might be broken-up!!
Where to Stay
You can stay at Haena State Park and campground, but it is closed every Monday from 10 a.m. to Tuesday 12 p.m. for maintenance. The reason that the Kalalau trail is often not fully booked on Tuesdays. Be aware of leaving your valuables and bags in the car is not recommended. We, a part of the team, saw a couple of rental cars on Kauai which had a broken side window and glass on the ground respectively.
Close by is the town of Princeville. Ideally located in the north to buy your groceries and to enjoy the Queen's Bath. Also not far away is the gorgeous Hanalei Beach Park. Have a closer look at the different private apartment rentals and hotels. Princeville accommodations
First of all, hiking on the Haiku Stairs is illegal, and the stairs are officially closed! A $1000 fine and an appearance in court was something we wanted to circumvent. Therefore, we had chosen the more difficult and dangerous trail through the Moanalua Valley. Anyhow, even trespassing will be prosecuted. Of course, when you reach the Haiku Stairs, you want to access them and take the best snap of your whole vacation.
Most important for the hike is the weather. Pick out the day with the most stable weather and if it was dry the day before even better. Although Honolulu is dry rain may occur in the valley and on the ridge. You can’t avoid getting dirty on this trail. Don’t underestimate the trail difficulties. Much needed for the steep ascent and descent back through muddy and slippery soil are “mini” crampons. If you want to use the provided ropes gloves may be necessary. Do you like to do to the hike? Read all our insights first to be prepared and experience one of the most thrilling hikes ever.
Hiking Conditions and Crowds
The Moanalua Valley, especially the ridge to the Keahiakahoe summit and also the Haiku Stairs experience a lot of rain even during the drier season in summer. The exhausting hike can be done all year, but it’s easier to cope with all difficulties in the drier season. There is often a strong wind and fog which makes hiking along the ridge dangerous. Read on for detailed tips by season.
Spring (Low Season)
It starts to get drier, but the trail is still extremely muddy and slippery. The Moanalua stream may have low flow and fording or hopping from stone to stone is necessary a couple of times. This improves in June. Temps along the trail is above 70°F, but it gets chilly on the ridge and the top due to the strong wind. The islands are not much crowded in spring. It starts to get busier in June, but still acceptable. June is one of the best months for this hike. Nevertheless, always check the weather forecast before; flooding can happen.
Summer (Peak Season)
It’s drier but the humidity is higher, and it gets hot while hiking and climbing. If you can avoid, don’t travel to Oahu in July and August. Prices are at the highest and hotels are booked to capacity.
Autumn (Low Season)
September is usually the best month for the hike. The stream may be dried out and it’s easy to walk the first 2.8 miles / 4.5 km. It’s less busy on the island, and the temps are pleasant. October is fine as well. November gets wetter, and trail conditions are getting worse. Monitor the clouds on the mountain ridge. It may be possible to hike, but it’s even more difficult and dangerous in rain and clouds. We can’t recommend hiking in the rain.
Winter (Low and Peak Season)
Expect more rain during the winter. It’s more likely that the Moanalua stream gets flooded. The north and east experience more rainfall. It’s the coldest time of the year but still up to 80°F in Honolulu at daytime. It's possible to hike the trail but expect the worst conditions when climbing up. The way back is even more slippery than usual. Don't hike in rain and clouds. The first part of December is still not too busy, but it gets crowded from the second half of December and in January. Although it’s not the best time for Hawaii hotels are fully booked, and hotel rates are the highest.
The Ballroom Overhang is a hiking highlight in the Paparoa National Park. This trail includes 8 river crossings one way and can be hiked only in right weather conditions. The Fox River shouldn’t be higher than your knees at the first crossing. Check the weather forecast before hiking. Consider if there is rain predicted the water level can rise quickly and hikers can get trapped. It’s dangerous to hike here in flood. Weather Forecast Punakaiki Area
It’s a mild climate due to the close location to the sea. Weather in NZ and especially on the West Coast is very changeable. You can experience 25 degrees one day and the next day heavy rainfall and much colder temps. The warmest months are November to March. If you camp consider the average low night temps of around 10°C. The average day temps are below 20°C but can reach up to 30°C in summer. Nights are pretty chilly from May to September. Rain is very common coming from the Tasman Sea on the West Coast on average each month more than 200 mm except February which is usually a little drier. Generally, spring (Sep.-Nov.) is the wettest time of the year.