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30 October, 2023 - Updated Last updated on
01 November, 2023

Posted by Mike | Spaceships Crew

So you’re planning your dream trip to New Zealand but are wondering what the best time is to visit New Zealand? Well, actually any time is a great time to visit New Zealand aka Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud. New Zealand is so versatile that every season offers its distinct advantages. Autumn in New Zealand offers lovely weather and amazing colours so let's focus on that season in this article.

Well, your first thought right now may not be: let's go to New Zealand in autumn! It might even be: hmm, isn't New Zealand in autumn too chilly? That is probably because you are used to the typical autumn weather in the Northern Hemisphere, where wet & gloomy weather is synonymous with autumn. You might be surprised to know that New Zealand's autumn weather is quite different. We'll show you that it really is one of the best times to explore New Zealand on a road trip.

Autumn in New Zealand is famous for its lovely weather

Autumn in New Zealand falls between 1 March and 31 May and has an average daytime temperature of 20°C (68F) on the North Island and 18°C (65F) on the South Island. Especially in March and April, the temperatures are lovely. So don’t forget to pack your sunnies and jandals for your New Zealand autumn road trip!

The nice autumn weather makes autumn in New Zealand the perfect time of year to do more hiking, cycling and other amazing outdoor activities. The trails of all the famous hikes are less crowded.

Many visitors to New Zealand expect the weather in spring to be similar to North America or Europe, but in fact, spring in New Zealand can be cooler, which is perfect for long hikes or if you're not a big fan of extremely sunny days. But spring's weather is full of surprises in New Zealand. It is nothing like spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This also means that major attractions and hikes like the Tongariro Alpine crossing may be inaccessible because of snow and ice in spring, but in autumn you can fully enjoy an amazing hike that has been described as “the best day hike in the world”

And New Zealand's autumn colours are legendary

So now you know that the temperatures in autumn are not that much lower than in the summer months, they just become more settled in autumn. There is still plenty of sunshine so plenty of daytime to explore New Zealand's amazing sights. And the changing colours of the leaves create a dramatic backdrop for your road trip through New Zealand in autumn.

Walking through a forest where all the trees have bright yellow leafs - that's autumn in New Zealand

Experience the amazing colours of autumn in New Zealand

Hop in a car or campervan and explore autumn in New Zealand your way. It really is a great way to take in the colours of the season. As the temperatures start to drop a bit, trees begin to change colour. The shift from green to vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows usually peaks in April, but this can vary depending on the region and specific weather patterns of the year.

On the South Island, the Otago and Canterbury regions are great spots to enjoy colourful autumn in New Zealand. Christchurch in Canterbury is also called the Garden City and its Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park are perfect spots to soak in the autumn ambiance. In Otago, Queenstown and Wanaka are the best places to visit to experience the leaf-changing season.

See & do more with fewer people around

Visiting New Zealand in autumn in a campervan is like a travel insider’s secret… In autumn, there are fewer tourists and visitors than are around in the summer, which makes it easier to get around on the roads in your compact campervan. Less visitors and tourists means more time doing the things you really want to do.

So instead of waiting in line to throw yourself off a small wooden platform attached to a big rubber band, you can go right ahead and bungy straight away – and then do it again if you want to. Queenstown is the place to be for action and adventure, no matter the season.

It gives you the opportunity to check out places and activities on the spur of the moment. In the busy summer months, you may well have to book in advance. In autumn in New Zealand, you can just rock up and book that jet boat ride for tomorrow. Although booking activities in advance does give you the best chance to lock them in at the lowest possible price.

Put a piece of autumn on your plate or in your glass

Autumn is also the time of the year that is known as harvest season. The perfect moment to visit a few wineries and taste their creations. Taste some of the famous New Zealand wines, like Sauvin Blanc in the Marlborough region or Pinot Noirs in the Otago or Hawk's Bay region. Lots of wineries also serve local snacks and food, making it a tasty afternoon. See the autumn sunset over the vineyard while you are enjoying some of New Zealand's best wines. Check out these wine tours & wineries.

Or are you a fan of craft beer? No worries, even breweries in New Zealand know that autumn is the perfect time to enjoy classics like bock beer. They have prepared their brews and are waiting for you. Especially Garage Project in Wellington and Sprig & Fern in Nelson or Christchurch, know their autumn brews like no other. Their bock beers are next level and close to the originals from the European continent. Or browse this list of craft beer breweries that organise brewery tours and/or have taprooms.

Image showing a tasty vegetarian pizza plus a tasting flight of craft beer @ Brew Moon, near Christchurch

Local food and local craft beer - It's a tasty life New Zealand's autumn | photo: 123NZ

Then there are the many restaurants that serve tasty dishes made with local ingredients that are in season, for example, kumara, pumpkin or swede. And to top it off, Arrowtown's Autumn Festival in April is the highlight of the season. This is an annual event you don't want to miss: 4 days of autumn festivities in beautiful Arrowtown on the South Island.

 Or if you like to go crazy and taste weird dishes and snacks, check out the Wild Food Festival - which takes place in March - in Hokitika on the South Island's West Coast. What do we mean by "weird dishes"? Well, items or ingredients you wouldn't find in your pantry (yet). The festival showcases ingredients like insects and parts of pigs, cows or chickens that usually are thrown out. It is a food festival for fans of the nose-to-tail way of cooking and adventurous foodies who like to try something different. Some dishes/snacks that were served at previous editions of this food festival:

  • Huhu grubs - beetle larvae plucked fresh from wood and then lightly barbecued
  • Mountain oysters aka sheep testicles
  • Locusts - have it on its own or in a jelly shot
  • Wasp brownies

FREEDOM² = Spaceships campervan hire + autumn

You may have heard of Einstein’s Big Idea of E=mc². Something about energy, mass and the speed of light. But have you heard about Spaceships Big Idea about Freedom? It’s a helluva lot more simple and a whole lot more useful!

Freedom is that elusive concept we are all searching for – especially when we’re travelling. The freedom to get away from airports, timetables, check-in and check-out times and where you can and can’t go.

Your Spaceships compact campervan hire gives you a massive hit of freedom. You can go where you want, when you want, see what you want, when you want to. Are you starting to get this idea? It’s totally up to you how you create your own, personal and unique travel experiences and itinerary.

Now that’s a pretty cool idea. But here’s the secret formula to turn it into the Big Idea. You already know that a Spaceships Campervan rental = Freedom, but what happens when you add New Zealand in Autumn to the equation? You get FREEDOM²

Image of a road leading up to the main buildings of a vineyard. Sun is going down and colours the vineyard

Where will the road take you in New Zealand in autumn?

Ka-Ching is the sound of autumn

It isn't just the wind blowing through the yellow and red coloured trees that you will be hearing in autumn in New Zealand. You'll also hear the happy ka-ching sound. The sound of money you are saving when travelling through New Zealand in autumn. As the busy summer season is over and tourists are heading back home, prices are starting to drop. Campervan and car hire will be cheaper in autumn as well. Can you hear the sound of money staying in your pocket?

But a secret like this won't stay a secret for long. So before this becomes common knowledge and more people start to book an autumn trip, you better lock in that lower-price campervan booking - make sure to create an online quote and send it to yourself as that locks the price for several days. That gives you time to think about it and plan your road trip in more detail. You'll be amazed to see how many more days you can travel in autumn for the same amount - or less - of money that you would pay for a summer road trip.

Not only are the roads quieter, but so are the campsites. This means you have a better choice of the best places to camp, a lot of popular sites get booked up in summer, but you have more freedom to stay where you want in autumn in New Zealand. The same goes for hostels or motels if you prefer to mix things up. And the best part is that accommodation rates have dropped in autumn, they are much lower than in the busy summer months.

Spaceships campervan parked on a bed of leafs - lots of autumn colours around

Explore New Zealand in autumn - Enjoy the freedom of a Spaceships road trip

It'll be a great #SpaceshipsRoadTrip

So you’ve got the whole of New Zealand to explore in Autumn. You’re Kings and Queens of the Road with a choice of places to stay and visit. And this is where you get even more freedom with a Spaceships campervan hire. Our depots are located on both islands and there is no fee for one-way trips at Spaceships. So if you want to pick up your campervan in South Island but drop it off in North Island, there won't be any additional fees. As a matter of fact, there are no hidden fees at all at Spaceships. The price you see is the price you'll pay. It is all part of our promises: the lowest price promise and a price match guarantee.

Cheers to autumn in New Zealand: your NZ road trip, your way

Finally, because it’s quieter in autumn, you can book that great table at a waterfront bar and maybe not wait so long for your Fergburger (or Lord of the Fries across the street for great vegan fast food) in Queenstown. It’s also a great time of year to park up your campervan for the day and enjoy a glass of craft beer, or a new season wine tasting at a cellar door. There’s more to discover in autumn in New Zealand.

We hope we’ll see you ready to blast off around New Zealand in autumn in your Spaceship!

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