The best time to visit Kakadu National Park largely depends on the activities you want to do and your tolerance for heat, humidity and rain.
If you’re not a fan of 35°C+ temperatures, the cooler months of May to August are your best option. The dry season is also better for swimming as heavy rains can cause flash flooding, making some areas unsafe or inaccessible. That being said, the wet season is usually quieter, which may suit you if you’d prefer to share the park with fewer people.
Kakadu’s weather can be divided into two major seasons: a wet season (November to March) and a dry season (April to October). However, the six seasons recognised by the traditional owners, the Bininj/Mungguy people, paint a much better picture of what to expect throughout the year.
Kudjewk (monsoon season)
December to March
Kudjewk is the peak of the tropical summer. Think intense humidity, monsoonal downpours and thunderstorms. Temperatures average 24°C to 34°C, but the humidity can make it feel hotter. Some areas of Kakadu may become inaccessible due to excessive rain and flooding, so you might be unable to swim in certain waterholes for safety reasons.
But don’t let this deter you. The rains breathe new life into the park, transforming it into an explosion of green. The waterfalls are also at their most powerful, and while you may not be able to swim in some of them, they’re certainly a sight to behold.
Bangkerreng (storm season)
The beginning of bankerreng sees heavy rains and winds, known as ‘knock-em-down’ storms, which flatten the speargrass. However, it doesn’t take long for the skies to clear and the water to recede in the floodplains. The landscapes are still lovely and lush, and animals return to their habitats to take advantage of all the fruiting plants.
Yekke (cooler season)
May to mid-June
With the storms gone, cooler temperatures of 21°C to 33°C and lower humidity, yekke is one of the best times to visit Kakadu. Waterlillies blanket the wetlands and early-morning mists over the plains make for excellent photography opportunities. Areas of the park that closed due to flooding usually open again in May.
Wurrkeng (cold weather season)
Mid-June to mid-August
Despite meaning the ‘cold weather season’, wurrkeng still sees balmy highs of up to 32°C and lows of 17°C — this is the Northern Territory, after all! Floodplains dry out and large numbers of native water birds, including magpie geese, flock to billabongs. You might even witness a noisy scene of hundreds of birds taking flight to dodge a hungry crocodile.
Kurrung (hot, dry season)
Mid-August to mid-October
Kurrung brings warmer temperatures of 23°C to 37°C and cloudier skies. Humidity is still reasonably low, so the heat isn’t too oppressive. Billabongs remain an exciting place to visit with lots of bird-watching opportunities. White-breasted wood swallows also arrive towards the end of the season as thunderclouds begin to build.
Kunumeleng (pre-monsoon season)
Mid-October to late December
As the pre-monsoon season, kunumeleng sees high humidity levels that can make the heat feel more intense. Dramatic lightning shows also take hold of the skies, providing a teaser of what’s to come later in kudjewk (monsoon season). This can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Most roads are still accessible unless the rains arrive early.
Our Kakadu National Park tours