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Spring in New Zealand is my favourite time of year. Towards the end of September, the clocks ‘spring’ forward, marking the start of daylight savings and therefore, the chance to get outside and explore 7 days a week (even if you work 9-5!)
September is certainly a transition month – You can get a warm spell and be tricked into changing the wardrobe to shorts and jandals (kiwi speak for sandals), only to get snow down to near sea-level the very next week! Having a fresh layer of snow keeps the skiers and snowboarders happy and transforms the mountains back to post card vistas. The snow here in New Zealand never lasts more than a few hours at low levels, so by the afternoon the towns are snow-free and you’re left with a sense that everything is crisp and clean.
Things to do in September
- The snow season is still in full swing, so pack the skis or board, if that’s your thing
- Hiking is wonderful, with quiet trails and daylight hours increasing – although stick to the lower altitudes, as alpine passes could still be off-limits
- Biking is ‘doable’ all year-round in New Zealand, however September marks the beginning of the biking season, with popular trails such as those on the Queenstown Skyline Gondola opening up
October is a fantastic time to visit New Zealand, with day light saving welcoming in the ‘bbq season’ and the snow season winding down. It’s a chance to grab one last slushy day up the mountains, with a mountain bike session in the afternoon. By this time of year the maximum temperatures will be around the mid 60’s Fahrenheit (around 20 Celsius) – surprisingly this is the case from the Far North right down to Queenstown, the main difference though, is that the nights are cooler and less humid down south.
Things to do in October
- Visit and explore Milford Sound! October is an ideal month as there’re significantly less tourists arriving in the country (compared with November through to April), so you can be sure Milford Sound will be quieter. Also, Mitre Peak and the other huge granite peaks will still have snow on their tops, making for sublime scenery.
- Join a farm tour. You’ll find plenty of lamb frolicking in the green meadows at this time of year, so, if you find yourselves in Queenstown, it’s a great time to take the family across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station, for a unique farm tour experience.
- Labour Day in New Zealand is the 4th Monday in October; it’s a fun time of year to be in New Zealand, to join the locals on a long weekend, when everyone is itching to get outdoors and into the wilderness. Team up with some local friends and let them show you their backyard on a multi-day hike!
By November, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s officially summer. It’s only a matter of weeks until the longest day and you won’t find too many kiwis with shoes on. November is generally your last chance to get a lower-cost airfare, before the high season starts, so if you’re looking for a bargain, don’t leave it any longer.
Things to do in November
- Like biking, kayaking is also a year-round sport. Though, it’s nice to sit in a kayak without 6 layers on, which is certainly possible by November! So join a guided tour and go exploring. I recommend Okarito Lagoon in the South Island or the Poor Knights Islands in the North Island as good starting points for a kayaking trip.
- By this time of year most hiking trails are 100% accessible, so if you’ve got your eye on a Great Walk like the Routeburn Track, or a local favourite like the Angelus Circuit in the Nelson Lakes National Park, chances are you’ll be able to reach the higher spots as the snow will have melted. Always check with the Department of Conservation beforehand though!
- For keen runners, the Queenstown International Marathon is on the 19th November (2016), giving you the perfect excuse to visit down under and pit yourself against the locals on one of the most scenic trails in the world. For really keen runners, you could combine this with the Auckland Marathon, which happens two weeks earlier, and make a New Zealand tour of it.
Whether you choose to hike, bike, kayak, or indulge in any of the other outdoor activities this country is renowned for, rest assured knowing that spring in New Zealand is a great time to visit. If you’d like join a guided adventure tour, and take the hassle out of your planning, try Active Adventures New Zealand. They offer multi-day guided trips around the country, ranging from 5 to 14 days. Their tours include all your accommodation, food, transport and guiding.
Written: 8 articles
Our only North Island adventure, where you'll explore active volcanoes, pristine forests, hot pools and underground caves. We will hike, bike, soak and enjoy a traditional Maori feast! Combine this with a South Island trip for a total NZ experience!
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