Avoid the crowds, but still enjoy the sunshine – autumn is a great time to travel in New Zealand.
Discover the places and experiences that come alive during March, April and May.
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. Because it’s no longer high season, you won’t encounter the busy crowds of summer.
Autumn in New Zealand spans the months of March, April and May.
March is one of the best months to travel New Zealand. The peak summer season has finished, but you can still enjoy great weather perfect for hiking, camping and swimming.
Most days are still sunny and warm with daylight long into the evening. There are no public holidays in March so it's a quieter time to travel and you are more likely to find deals on transport and accommodation.
The average high in Auckland is 23°C and the average low is 15°C.
In Queenstown, the average high is 19°C and the average low is 7°C.
Daylight savings ends in early April, so although weather remains agreeable throughout this month, you will have shorter days.
April is still quite warm in the North Island, and even in the South Island where temperatures start to dip, days are crisp and clear and bright blue skies are common.
Cooler temperatures make April a great time for hiking, especially in Wanaka and Queenstown where you can start to see tree leaves change colour.
April is also the last month in the Great Walks season, so this can be the last chance to tackle these trails before winter weather makes them more difficult.
School holidays usually fall in April, along with the Easter long weekend and ANZAC day, another public holiday. This means a lot of Kiwis travel during this time. Roads, attractions and accommodation can all be busier during this month, so it's worth making plans in advance.
The average high in Auckland is 20°C and the average low is 13°C.
In Queenstown, the average high is 15°C and the average low is 4°C.
May is a shoulder season in New Zealand, so it's a good time to travel if you want to avoid the crowds. In most areas, you won't need to book in advance and can find great deals on travel.
If you're heading to the South Island in May, pack plenty of warm clothes as temperatures can dip below freezing overnight.
When planning any outdoor activities, be sure to check the weather in advance and understand the conditions. In mountainous areas, May can bring snow or heavy rain, so be prepared.
The average high in Auckland is 18°C and the average low is 10°C.
In Queenstown, the average high is 12°C and the average low is 2°C.
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.
Long, still days lend themselves to the great outdoors. Autumn is the perfect time of year to hike one of our ten Great Walks; the seasons closes for most of the tracks at the end of April.
During March and April, it’s still hot enough to swim in most places. Cool down with a dip in the ocean after exploring the coastline.
Celebrate the creative quirkiness of the Kiwi culture at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, where delicious local delicacies like huhu grubs and whitebait patties are cooked up by colourful locals.
Saltwater fishing is exceptional from March to May. Take a local charter boat or dangle a line off the coast.
Orca and dolphins visit Wellington’s coast during the autumn months. Watch from the city’s waterfront or catch a ferry to Eastbourne or Picton.
Head to winery regions such as Marlborough or the Wairarapa to see vineyards turn beautiful shades of gold, and sample their autumnal harvests.
Central Otago is another classic autumn destination, 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.
Here are simple tips for your autumn holiday.
New Zealand's native foliage is evergreen, but exotic species are common throughout the country. Introduced trees change colour in autumn.
The most impressive places to see the burnt oranges, yellows and reds of autumn are Central Otago and the Hawke’s Bay, but botanic gardens throughout the country promise to put on a show.
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.