Are you thinking of visiting the southern hemisphere country of New Zealand? Autumn is an excellent time of year to explore the beautiful nation that served as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings films.
Autumn falls between March and May in New Zealand or Aotearoa. You can expect sunny days with daytime temperatures consistently in the low 20s but chillier evenings. A low travel season, some days you'll feel like you have the place to yourself. But there are also many great local festivals to enjoy during these months.
Know what to expect from New Zealand in the autumn and why it is a great time to visit in this article. I'll also show you the best places to visit and things to do while exploring New Zealand in the autumn.
Thinking of visiting New Zealand at a different time of year? Explore this guide to planning a visit to New Zealand.
What to Expect From New Zealand in Autumn
New Zealand is one of the most southerly countries in the world. So, when is autumn in New Zealand? Autumn occurs between March and May, after the Christmas holidays.
The weather in New Zealand in autumn is ideal for outdoor activities in the country's green heart. The days are still quite long and sunny, and you can expect calm weather and blue skies, especially in March and April.
The rains can start to come in May. Autumn is considered better than Spring for outdoor activities in NZ because the winds can blow intensely in October and November.
Autumn temperatures can be much colder in the morning and overnight, so pack layers to adjust to the temperature.
Here's what you can expect each month in Autumn in New Zealand.
March in New Zealand
What is the temperature in New Zealand in the fall? In March, you can expect highs of 25 degrees Celsius and lows of 15 degrees Celsius in Auckland. Queenstown will only reach around 19 degrees Celsius and fall as low as 7 degrees Celsius.
This is a great time to travel because it is very unlikely to rain and there are no holidays, so you may feel like you have the place to yourself.
April in New Zealand
In April, Auckland experiences highs of around 20 degrees Celsius with about 13 degrees Celsius lows. In Queenstown, there are lows of about 4 degrees Celsius at night, and it reaches 15 degrees Celsius during the day.
In April, there is the Easter long weekend, ANZAC Day, and the Kiwi School Holidays, so popular destinations can be much busier. But it is also a great time to travel if you plan to visit family and experience fall in New Zealand.
May in New Zealand
In May, the season begins to end. Auckland experiences temperatures between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius, and Queenstown between 2 and 12 degrees Celsius.
It can start to rain quite heavily near the end of the month, and even snow in the more mountainous regions. It won't be long before the skiing season begins.
New Zealand Seasons
What can you expect from the other seasons in New Zealand?
Between December and February is summer. Summer in New Zealand features long, warm days. The sun can be up until 9 pm or 10 pm.
The New Zealand summer months are a great time to spend on the water, either the sea or the country's many lakes, for swimming, sailing, surfing, and fishing. Expect BBQs and trips to the beach after work. It is peak tourist season with the long Christmas holidays for the summer.
Winter in New Zealand happens between June and August, but most areas can expect mild temperatures and clear, crisp days. But it's still a great time to explore. Fans of the snow will be pleased to hear that the ski season is long, from late June to early October. Just head to high-altitude slopes such as Coronet Peak and Mount Hutt. The coldest month in New Zealand is July.
Spring in New Zealand is a time of lush green and colorful blooms. Falling between September and November is a low season for tourism since there are few holidays, making it a great time to explore. But the weather can be unsettled and unpredictable, and strong winds can decrease temperatures.
So, when is the best time of the year to visit New Zealand? Probably in the autumn! The weather is perfect, the crowds are light, and you can find good deals on accommodation and activities.
Is Autumn a Good Time to Visit New Zealand?
Autumn is a great time to visit New Zealand! There are many reasons why autumn is the best time of year to visit this beautiful island country.
As mentioned, the weather is warm and sunny in New Zealand in the autumn without being too hot, and it is a dry season, so you're unlikely to find yourself rained out.
New Zealand's lush green and mountainous landscapes, set against clean blue waters, are beautiful year-round. But the country is especially magnificent in autumn when the leaves turn fiery gold, orange, and yellow shades.
While New Zealand is a relatively expensive country to visit. Autumn represents the low season, making it a perfect time for budget travelers. It's usually much more affordable than the summer in New Zealand, which also coincides with Christmas, an expensive time to travel.
Autumn can also be cheaper than the winter when skiers invade. You should find better prices, more availability, and smaller crowds in the autumn.
Where to Visit in NZ in Autumn
One of the great things about New Zealand is that it is a relatively small country. It comprises two main islands, the North Island, Te Ika-a-Maui, and the South Island, Te Waipounamu, plus several small islands.
Together they are about the size of the United Kingdom. Good roads mean you can explore much of the country, even on a short visit. If you must choose a few places to base yourself on while visiting in the autumn, choose these Kiwi cities and regions:
Auckland & Waiheke Island
Auckland is an excellent city if you want to experience Kiwi shopping. It features high-end designers, local craft markets, and dining at award-winning local and international restaurants.
The city also has excellent beaches if the weather is still warm. The Botanic Gardens and Western Springs Park are great places to see the changing leaves, though most of the trees in the area are evergreen.
No visit to Auckland would be complete without spending at least a day on Waiheke Island, just off the coast. It is home to 30 boutique wineries, most of which have fantastic sea views while you sip. If you cross over in March, you might also spot migrating blue whales and orca pods.
Hawke's Bay, located on the North Island, is one of the best places to see autumn leaves. It's another big wine region with more than 72 wineries. Drive or hike through Tukituki Valley to Te Mata Peak for the best views of the amber trees and Lake Tutira.
On the northern tip of the South Island, Marlborough is an excellent town for seafood, fresh produce, and more wine. The area is popular for cycling and hiking, with the 73.5km Queen Charlotte Track considered the best.
Arrowtown & Queenstown
At the south end of the South Island, both Arrowtown and Queenstown represent rural New Zealand. Expect cozy pubs, antique stores, and green farms with quite a few sheep!
The area is known for its good hiking and beautiful lakes. Lake Hayes sits between the two cities, but the long drive north to Lake Tekapo is worth taking. This is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and is perfect for watching the Milky Way in autumn.
Otago is a heavily forested region with trees that change their color in the autumn. You can stay in the small towns of Alexandra, Cromwell, or Clyde. This region is known for its winemaking and cycling trails, which are at their best in the autumn.
Things to do in NZ in Autumn
Here are my top picks if you're looking for the best things to do in New Zealand while visiting in the autumn:
Visit the Wineries
New Zealand is a big wine-producing region with more than 2,100 wineries. Most are open for tastings coupled with delicious local cuisine. Set in the country's lush green interior, they offer excellent views while you sip. Marlborough, Hawke's Bay, Otago, and Waiheke Island are the best wine regions to visit.
Explore by Bike
While many people choose to drive the New Zealand landscape, cycling is a great way to explore while getting closer to nature. There are many cycling tracks, and you can easily reach them by road since they are well-kept. The best cycling is around Otago and Queenstown, but don't forget the Queen Charlotte Track near Marlborough.
As a small island nation, it should be no surprise that fishing is a major pastime in New Zealand. Saltwater fishing is excellent in autumn all over the country. Expect to find giant tuna between March and May and plenty of snappers in April.
Enjoy a Festival
Autumn is one of New Zealand's big festival seasons, especially regarding food and wine festivals. The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival happens in March, while the Flavours of Plenty Festival happens in March and April. Don't miss Arrowtown Autumn Festival at the end of April and the Waiheke Island Wine and Food Festival in May.
If you're keen on music, check out the Pasifika Festival in March, which features 11 stages featuring bands from the Pacific Islands. The international Jim Beam Homegrown Festival featuring major international bands happens in Wellington in March. The Earth Beat Festival, which offers music, dance, yoga, art, and more, is held annually in March.
Start Packing for New Zealand in Autumn!
For many people, visiting New Zealand is a once-in-a-lifetime experience since it can feel like it is at the end of the Earth! It combines gorgeous natural landscapes with a thriving indigenous culture. Its forward-thinking community combines innovation and tradition in just the right ways.
Autumn is a great time of year to visit as it is considered low season, so the prices are better, and there are fewer crowds. March to May also offers exceptional best weather conditions for exploring the islands.
Now that you're an expert on New Zealand in autumn, you can start to craft your ideal travel experience for you, your family, and your friends.