Discover autumn in New Zealand

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Autumn is a great time to travel in New Zealand, as you can avoid the crowds but still enjoy sunshine and spectacular colours.

Weather in autumn and travel tips

Long, sunny days tend to linger long into New Zealand’s autumn, and with average high temperatures of between 18 degrees Celcius (°C) and 25°C, you’ll hardly notice summer has ‘officially’ ended. Nights begin to get chilly around mid-April.

Weather in March

March is an excellent month to travel New Zealand with pleasant weather ideal for hiking, camping, and swimming. The summer season has ended, but most days are still sunny and warm with long daylight hours. March is a quieter time to travel with no public holidays, making it easier to find transport and accommodation deals. Auckland's average high is 23°C and low is 15°C, while Queenstown's average high is 19°C and low is 7°C.

Weather in April

April in New Zealand offers agreeable weather with shorter days after daylight savings ends early in the month. The North Island remains quite warm while the South Island sees cooler temperatures, making it great for hiking. This is also the last chance to tackle the Great Walks before winter weather sets in. However, Kiwi school holidays, Easter long weekend, and ANZAC day result in increased travel and busier roads, attractions, and accommodation. Auckland's average high is 20°C and low is 13°C, while Queenstown's average high is 15°C and low is 4°C.

Weather in May

May is a good time to visit New Zealand as it is a shoulder season with fewer crowds and better travel deals. However, the South Island can get very cold at night, so warm clothing is necessary. Check the weather and prepare for snow or heavy rain in mountainous areas. Auckland's average high is 18°C and low is 10°C, while Queenstown's average high is 12°C and low is 2°C.

Travel Tips

From late April, high mountain passes can be subject to snow and ice, so taking a tour is a good option. If you would prefer to self-drive, carrying chains is recommended.

Unique autumn destinations

Experience the magic of autumn in New Zealand as landscapes transform into a vibrant canvas of rich colours. Changing leaves paint picturesque scenes with trees in stunning hues of oranges, reds, and yellows that will take your breath away. 

The most impressive place to see the unique autum colours is Central Otago, with crisp clear days throughout April and May, and plenty of autumn colours to feast your eyes on as you cycle or walk in the region. Head to winery regions such as Marlborough, Wairarapa or Hawke's Bay to see vineyards turn beautiful shades of gold, and sample their autumnal harvests. 

The best things to do in autumn

One of the most special things about autumn in New Zealand is the colours. Deciduous trees turn brilliant hues of yellow, gold and hot orange, set against bright blue skies. This makes it a great time to get outside and make the most of the good weather before winter sets in. Because it’s no longer high season, you won’t encounter the busy crowds of summer.

Enjoy the fall foliage

New Zealand’s autumn colours are breathtaking, especially in places like Arrowtown, Wānaka, and Central Otago. You can take a scenic drive, cycle ride or hike to appreciate the stunning colours of the season.

Visit the national parks

New Zealand’s national parks are stunning year-round. But autumn is a great time to visit as there are fewer crowds and the weather is mild. You can go hiking, camping or simply enjoy the beautiful scenery. If you haven’t done the  Great Walks, this is a good time to do so. The seasons close for most of the tracks at the end of April.

Go wine tasting

Autumn is harvest season in New Zealand, and many wineries open their doors to visitors. You can taste some of the best wines of the region and learn about the winemaking process. Waiheke IslandHawke’s BayMarlborough Sounds, and Central Otago all have many award-winning cellar doors which serve well as spectacular autumn destinations for food and wine lovers.

Enjoy the culture and food festivals

Autumn months are eventful in New Zealand. Arrowtown Autumn Festival(opens in new window) (end of April) is the one not to be missed where you can fully take in the stunning fall colours and experience the warmth and hospitality of the local community. Celebrate the creative quirkiness of the Kiwi culture at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival(opens in new window) (early March), where delicious local delicacies like huhu grubs and whitebait patties are cooked up by colourful locals. Other festivals in autumn:

Go fishing

Saltwater fishing in New Zealand is exceptional all year round. Availability of the catches vary depending on the season and location. Tuna is typically best caught from March to May, while snapper is more commonly caught up until April. You can take a local charter boat or dangle a line off the coast. There is abundance of fish species and fishing techniques to explore for both experienced anglers and beginners.

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