Eriophyoid big bud mites are key pests of hazelnut throughout the world, but they are difficult to control with chemicals or other methods because they are protected inside the bud. The most effective time for control is during the relatively short emergence period which is difficult for growers to predict. The key objectives of this study were to monitor mite emergence from big buds in spring, determine the phenology of mites in relation to tree phenology and weather, and identify the optimum timing for control measures. Mite emergence was found to occur between early and late spring in Canterbury, New Zealand. Mite emergence and movement occurred when daily maximum temperatures were >15°C and when mean temperatures were >9°C, with mite emergence increasing with temperature. The developmental status of new buds during mite emergence was a crucial factor in the infestation of new buds. An accumulated heat sum model (DD), starting at Julian date 152 and using a lower threshold temperature of 6°C, predicted the onset of emergence on two cultivars and at two sites at approximately 172 DD. A regression model based on leaf number, bud length, bud width, DD and Julian date provided a more satisfactory prediction of percent accumulated mite emergence. It is recommended both peak mite emergence and the developmental status of hazelnut buds be used to optimise the time to apply control measures. The optimum time to apply a control was predicted to be before buds measure 0.5 × 0.5 mm (width × length), are enclosed within the axil, and have a rounded tip, or, when 50% accumulated mite emergence has occurred, whichever occurs first.