Autumn in NZ, an amazing season to travel: fewer people, amazing colours and more advantages

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! Fewer people and amazing colours are just a few of the advantages.

Autumn in New Zealand takes places in the months of March, April and May. Although a relatively short season (slightly shorter days than in summer), make no mistake,  it really is the best time of year to travel. Here’s why.

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.

Fewer people but same amazing scenery. That's autumn in New Zealand!
Fewer people but the same amazing scenery. That’s autumn in New Zealand!

We won’t knock travelling in the summer months (December – February), 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, but 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. By mid-March, the crowds will start to clear.

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 most of Autumn, 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
Mt Cook and blue skies in autumn with Stray NZ

The seasonal activities are still running

There are some seasonally based activities that only run in summer, such as canyoning in Abel Tasman. 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
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! Bungy jumping runs all year round, no matter what the weather but just imagine having this as your backdrop:


Two words: autumn foliage!

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 seasonal photos.

That's why autumn is the best season to travel New Zealand
That’s why autumn is the best season to travel New Zealand

Insta-worthy photos

Check out these shots showing off autumn at it’s finest (click to see a large version of these photos).

Don’t just take our word for it though… Get out here and experience autumn in New Zealand for yourself! Stray Tours are taking place throughout autumn and several departures are already guaranteed!

LisaT profile picture

Lisa T

Originally from Delaware, USA. Favourite Stray stop: Blue Duck Station (New Zealand). Fun fact: her knowledge of sci-fi, Disney and British literature make her the Queen of Trivia.

Recently we launched heaps new Stray New Zealand Tours. Our new Adventure Tours are the best thing since Hop-On/Hop-Off, we've cranked up the excitement dial to max. And our new Select Tours are perfect for travellers that want to explore without compromising on comfort.

Experience New Zealand's stunning diversity, from white beaches to snowy mountains and lush rainforests, with Stray.

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  • Hi!
    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, 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!

    • 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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