Autumn is without a doubt one of our favourite times to head out on an adventure in New Zealand. The days are still pretty warm (depending on whether you are in the North or South Island of course), there is still plenty of sunshine and best of all, the beautiful deciduous trees start to put on their show. For those based up in the North Island or planning a trip in the north, there’s not going to be as much for you to see in terms of autumnal colours. There are pockets here and there and a short drive north from Auckland out to Matakana or Warkworth will reveal a few gems, however a lot of the North Island and indeed New Zealand in general is covered with evergreens.
If you truly want to explore the autumnal colours that make you go ‘wow’, then you are going to have to head south. The South Island has some absolutely cracking places to see autumn at its best. Yep, it’s going to be a bit colder down there, especially when you get as far south as Queenstown and the Central Otago but it’s so worth it!
So, if you are a big fan of the changing leaves in autumn, here are the top 5 places we recommend you visit but be quick – winter will be here before you know it!
1. Queenstown and Arrowtown
Perhaps one of the most photographed places at this time of year is Arrowtown. This place is pretty special all year round, however it truly comes to life in the autumn months of April-June. Wherever you look there are trees in Arrowtown and they put on a truly magical show in the autumn. Walk along the river, or get up high for a birds eye view of the colourful landscape. Wherever you go, you won’t be disappointed.
Queenstown is also an awesome place to visit in the autumn. The trees around Lake Wakatipu and up into Queenstown Gardens are absolutely beautiful. Head out on the Queenstown Trail towards Arrowtown on foot or bike and you will get some stunning views of the autumn colours.
Here are some of our favourite autumn pics from Arrowtown and Queenstown this autumn:
Staying pretty close to Queenstown and Arrowtown, head over the Cardrona Range to Wanaka and you’re in for more autumn loveliness! All around the shores of the lake, but particularly around Roys Bay, you will find golden yellow poplars which looking stunning set to the backdrop of the lake with the lovely autumn sunlight shining down. Take a drive out around the Cardrona Valley and you will find more of these beautiful poplars – a stunning sight and part of a great South Island road trip.
3. Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo is the gift that keeps on giving. No matter what time of year you visit, this place is truly stunning. From the bright and vibrant lupins in the spring, to the turquoise waters in the summer months to the stunning yellow trees that line the lakeside in the autumn. There is a certain calm to Tekapo at this time of year and the reflective waters showcase the autumnal colours perfectly.
4. Central Otago
If you’re down in the Queenstown/Arrowtown area, we definitely recommend taking a drive out towards Alexandra and Roxburgh. As you drive out beyond Arrowtown, the roads are windy and treelined and the beautiful colours you saw in and around Arrowtown continue on into the Central Otago district. Then there’s the vineyards. The Central Otago is one of New Zealand’s best wine growing regions, famous for the delicious pint noir that has made the region famous. The vines start to change colour around April time and this really adds to the colour palette of the region. A drive up to the Clyde Dam lookout will give you some spectacular views out over the region down towards Clyde and Alexandra.
The final place on our list is the Garden City of Christchurch. As you would expect from a city that carries the nickname of the Garden City, Christchurch is not short on trees, all located in the beautiful gardens and parks. A must is a visit to Hagley Park right in the heart of Christchurch. The trees here are beautiful in the autumn and create a really nice feel to the city. You can also try a bit of punting down at the Antigua Boatsheds where the treelined River Avon looks spectacular at this time of year.
So there you have it. Our top 5 places to see the best of New Zealand this autumn. If you fancy checking out some of these places, make sure you check out our Christchurch to Queenstown 4 day itinerary which will actually take you through all the places listed above – how good is that?!
We’d love to find out if you have any other great tips for places to visit in the autumn in New Zealand. You can either send in your best pics in the comments below or post them on Instagram using the hashtag #goexplorenz and we will update this blog with the best ones we see.
Happy autumn everyone!
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