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Marvel at autumn foliage in New Zealand

Autumn in New Zealand typically spans from March to May.

Lake Tekapo, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Lake Tekapo, Canterbury, New Zealand. (Photo: Miles Holden)

Autumn in New Zealand, typically spanning from March to May, is a breathtaking season marked by a unique blend of vibrant colours, mild temperatures, and a distinctive atmosphere. As the Southern Hemisphere transitions from the warmth of summer to the cool embrace of winter, the landscapes undergo a spectacular transformation.

During autumn, the lush greenery of New Zealand's diverse terrain, encompassing mountains, forests, lakes, and coastlines, burst into a kaleidoscope of colours. Deciduous trees, such as the iconic native beech and exotic species like maples, colour the scenery with hues of red, orange, and gold. The contrast between the changing leaves and the evergreen native flora creates a picturesque and mesmerising panorama.

In addition to the visual splendour, autumn in New Zealand brings about a sense of tranquillity and reflection. The tourism pace tends to slow down, allowing for a more intimate and serene experience of the country’s natural wonders. It is a time when the landscapes seem to exhale, and there is a palpable sense of peace in the air.

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New Zealand’s weather in autumn

The weather in autumn is generally mild, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities. In the North Island, temperatures can range between 10 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, the South Island encounters cooler temperatures ranging from five degrees Celsius to 15 degrees Celsius.

Crisp mornings and evenings are balanced by comfortable daytime temperatures, inviting locals and visitors alike to explore the outdoors. Hiking trails, national parks, and scenic drives provide an opportunity to witness the beauty of the season up close.

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Klook Pass New Zealand. (Photo: Klook SG)
Klook Pass New Zealand. (Photo: Klook SG)

Outfits to pack for New Zealand during autumn

Due to the diverse weather in New Zealand, it is advisable to pack a range of lightweight and breathable attire such as long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and cardigans. Having a variety of clothing options ensures flexibility in adapting to the fluctuating temperatures experienced throughout the day.

If you intend to engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, make sure to bring comfortable waterproof footwear, a daypack, and suitable attire for walking or hiking. Despite the cool temperatures, the sun can be intense, so it is essential to pack sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

Where to enjoy the fall foliage

1. Arrowtown, Central Otago

Situated in the core of Central Otago, this historic gold mining town undergoes a captivating transformation with its vibrant autumn leaves. Hosting events commemorating the autumn harvest and its rich historical background, Arrowtown’s enchanting atmosphere is also heightened by its quaint heritage structures. Stroll by tranquil lakes, immerse yourself in picturesque landscapes and savour the peaceful ambience of this charming town amid the breathtaking autumnal colours.

Central Otago Old Gold Trail Tour from Queenstown


Central Otago Old Gold Trail Tour from Queenstown. (Photo: Klook SG)
Central Otago Old Gold Trail Tour from Queenstown. (Photo: Klook SG)

Find out some of the best walking trails in Arrowtown.

2. Wānaka, Otago

This tranquil town, embraced by Lake Wānaka and encircled by majestic mountains, awakens with vibrant autumnal colours. Fall is the optimal season for enjoying leisurely strolls, biking, or hiking amidst the fiery foliage hues. With fewer people around, you can fully appreciate the awe-inspiring landscapes, engage in local events, and immerse yourself in the serene allure of this beautiful lakeside town.

Arrowtown Wanaka 6 Hours Tour from Queenstown


Arrowtown Wanaka 6 Hours Tour from Queenstown. (Photo: Klook SG)
Arrowtown Wanaka 6 Hours Tour from Queenstown. (Photo: Klook SG)

Read more on the five best short walks in Wānaka.

3. Lake Tekapo, Canterbury

Exploring Lake Tekapo in the autumn reveals a stunning array of colours set against the backdrop of magnificent natural scenery. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Tekapo enhance the autumn palette, providing a tranquil reflection of the changing leaves and the distant, majestic Southern Alps. Whether you're hiking the nearby trails, enjoying the awe-inspiring views, or capturing the beauty through photography, autumn offers the ideal opportunity to discover the town's charm.

Lake Tekapo Farm Tour


Lake Tekapo Farm Tour. (Photo: Klook SG)
Lake Tekapo Farm Tour. (Photo: Klook SG)

Check out the short walks you can take at Lake Tekapo.

Where to stay in New Zealand for autumn foliage

1. Hidden Springs, Waikino

Hidden Springs, Waikino. (Photo:
Hidden Springs, Waikino. (Photo:

Nestled within enchanting gardens and the embrace of nature, every cottage or lodge is meticulously crafted to offer both comfort and seclusion, allowing you to fully engage with the tranquil atmosphere of Waikino's countryside. Take a moment to unwind and relax while indulging in the private outdoor hot tubs filled with natural mineral springs, and delight in the picturesque autumn scenery.

Book your stay

2. Puketui Forest Escape, Taupō

Located in the captivating Puketui Forest, take a break from the hectic pace of everyday life and surround yourself with the peace of the native bush at Puketui Forest Escape. The accommodation choices, carefully crafted to reduce environmental impact, encompass delightful cabins to eco-friendly lodges, fostering a balanced coexistence with the forest environment.

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3. Te Hau Tiny House, Marlborough

Providing a distinctive and snug getaway, this delightful tiny house is nestled within the scenic beauty of the Marlborough region. Situated directly on the shore, it offers breathtaking views of the North Island Coast, Cape Campbell Lighthouse, and Lake Grassmere. As night descends, relax on the outdoor deck and marvel at the star-studded night sky.

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4. Silver Fern Lodge, Taupō

Silver Fern Lodge, Taupō. (Photo:
Silver Fern Lodge, Taupō. (Photo:

The Silver Fern Lodge provides a comfortable and convenient accommodation option in the central region of the North Island. In autumn, the lodge becomes a cosy retreat amidst the vibrant colours of the season. Its strategic location allows easy access to Taupō's attractions, including the breathtaking Lake Taupo, geothermal parks, and outdoor adventures such as hiking and jet boating.

Book your stay: | | Agoda | HotelsCombined

5. Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown

Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown. (Photo:
Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown. (Photo:

Situated amidst the captivating autumn landscapes of Arrowtown, Millbrook Resort offers a luxurious and tranquil escape. The resort features a world-class 27-hole golf course and elegant cottages and villas that provide scenic views of the surrounding landscapes. Guests can indulge in a range of activities, from spa treatments at the award-winning day spa to leisurely walks or bike rides along the trails, creating an exceptional autumn retreat experience.

Book your stay: | | Agoda | HotelsCombined | Luxury Escapes

Whether you're captivated by the changing colours of the foliage, the mild climate, or the peaceful ambience, autumn in New Zealand offers a unique and enchanting experience for those who appreciate the beauty of nature in transition.

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