Autumn outdoors in New Zealand
New Zealand most often experiences good weather during autumn as the countryside explodes into vibrant colour - red, gold, and orange. With settled weather and cooler days, it’s the perfect time for experiencing New Zealand’s many cycling or walking tracks.
Autumn is the best time to cycle, walk or ride horseback along the historic Otago Central Rail Trail, in the South Island’s old gold mining lands, while taking in expansive blue skies over gentle hills and jagged peaks. Cyclists on New Zealand’s growing cycle trails network will find everything from a gentle gradient to challenging downhill runs.
With mild temperatures in the North Island, it’s still not too late to swim with the dolphins along the east coast, or walk the volcanic Tongariro Alpine Crossing - or any one of New Zealand’s other ‘Great Walks’ - before the winter snows arrive.
Autumn events in New Zealand
Autumn is harvest time, and the opportunity to taste some of New Zealand's finest fruit and produce at farmers' markets and vineyards. The season also inspires a variety of outdoor festivals throughout the country.
In the South Island where the seasonal colours are most marked, the Arrowtown Festival celebrates the little town’s gold mining heritage as the hillside above bursts into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours, while Wanaka’s Festival of Colour brings art and culture to the lakeside resort.
At the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival on the West Coast, visitors can sample incredible morsels such as huhu grubs (beetle larvae) and wasabi ice cream. Meanwhile the Bluff Oyster Festival is a major drawcard for the South Island’s most southern port.
Some of New Zealand’s major sporting events take place in autumn including the annual Taupo Ironman in early March, the Tour of New Zealand cycle race in April, and the Rally of Otago in May.
With the arrival of autumn in New Zealand, the temperature has settled and the landscape is a perfect picture of startling golds and warm reds, making it the ideal time for international tourists.
Christchurch – the ‘Garden City’ – blooms brightest each March when the Ellerslie International Flower Show opens its gates to reveal a hotbed of green-fingered creativity, Kiwi innovation and garden style.
Autumn dramatises Aoraki Mount Cook National Park - a wild contrast of brightly coloured trees, turquoise Lake Pukaki and the snowy Southern Alps beyond. At night, the stars shine clear and bright in the skies of Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve.
Autumn tones colour the rolling vineyards of the Waipara wine region, near Christchurch. The vineyards of the Waipara Valley - one of New Zealand's newest wine regions - produce sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and riesling wines.
Queenstown has a new reputation as a cycling destination. A series of cycle trails within easy reach of the lakeside resort offer exceptional cycling experiences. Walter Peak backcountry trail is a 55km one-day ride - and first stage of the longer Around the Mountains trail.