Why autumn is the best time to travel New Zealand

Autumn foliage in Arrowtown with Stray New Zealand

When it comes to travelling New Zealand, there’s no bad time to visit. But if we had to recommend our favourite time of year, it’s autumn!

Autumn is considered by most to last for only the months of April and May. Although a relatively short season, make no mistake – it really is the best time of year to travel. Here’s why:

1) There are fewer people travelling

If you wait to travel after peak season, you can expect fewer people across the country, smaller crowds at attractions and more availability with activities, accommodation and transport.

We won’t knock travelling in the summer months (December – March), but something to keep in mind is that a good chunk of summer is also the NZ school holidays. So not only will you be travelling over the peak tourist season, you’ll also be travelling with a lot of Kiwi families. That means accommodation in popular destinations like Rotorua or Queenstown may be hard to come by (Stray always guarantees at least your first night’s accommodation, but it’s best to book in advance if you plan to hop off somewhere). By the end of March, the crowds will have definitely cleared.

2) The weather is mint

While you may feel a chill in the air in the mornings and evenings, autumn days are usually warm and sunny when the sun is shining. Throughout April and most of May, you can still comfortably hit the beach, swim in the ocean, go for walks and do any of the water sports or other outdoor activities on offer because the rain and snow of winter haven’t settled in yet.

Mt Cook and blue skies in autumn with Stray NZ

3) The seasonal activities are still running

There are some seasonally based activities that only run in summer, such as white water rafting in Rangitata, canyoning in Abel Tasman and Stray’s own East Coaster tour. You can hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing without a guide until the snow comes, at which point the Crossing requires special gear and a guide to complete.

Stray buses in Tongariro National Park in autumn

Expect the seasonal activities to continue to run through at least the end of April or as long as the weather holds out. Take advantage of it and get outdoors!

4) Two words: autumn foliage!

Autumn foliage in Arrowtown, New Zealand

New Zealand is spectacularly beautiful every day of the year (we may be biased in that opinion), but autumn brings out the rich hues of scarlet and gold across the country as the leaves turn colours. The best places to visit are definitely in the Otago region on the South Island, particularly around Wanaka, Arrowtown and Queenstown if you want the best autumn foliage photos.

AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge Bungy jump with autumn colours

Don’t just take our word for it – come see for yourself why autumn is the best time to travel in New Zealand! You won’t be disappointed!

2 Comment

  1. Drew Stevensen says: Reply

    Me and my husband had almost a lifelong dream to visit New Zealand. It’s like pure magic to us with all its waitomo cages and aurora australis. We used a lot of sites and sources like https://rove.me/to/new-zealand, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/new-zealand/weather or rough guides to plan our trip. We bought tickets for the end of March and then we found your inspiring post! What a pity( Anyway maybe you have some ideas about New Zealand springtime? Is the anything fantastic to do or to see? Thanx in advance!

    1. Kia ora!
      The end of March means you will be joining us just in time for NZ autumn – New Zealand spring is generally September – November. How long will you be travelling?
      Lisa from Stray

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