Three Reasons to love New Zealand in Autumn
Promo pics for New Zealand often feature snowy Alps, and pristine alpine lakes but they belie a truth many New Zealanders know, that Autumn is one of the best times to visit.
Officially the low season, in tourism circles, Autumn can set the scene for a brilliant trip. The weather is often particularly mild, especially in northern parts, and if you’re lucky you might even grab a taste of some early snow. The best of both worlds!
Even if it doesn’t snow New Zealand has lots to offer those in the shoulder seasons. Here’s a quick list of things you can enjoy in New Zealand in Autumn (March-May)
1. Food and wine
Always near the top of my list of must-experiences is food in Autumn. It’s harvest time and Autumn features the best of Kiwi wine and produce. Seek out a platter amongst the vines and enjoy the best of the first wine of the harvest. Look out especially for venison, duck, crisp apples and fantastic seafood. Try Mudbrick on Waiheke Island, or Villa Maria – cellar door literally minutes from the International terminal.
Great markets are held in almost every town and city throughout NZ and some of the best are in the Auckland region. Check out the Matakana markets (north of the city) or Clevedon (south east of the city beyond Whitford), La Cigale French style markets in Parnell, or for something completely different enjoy the Polynesian vibe at the Otara markets and Avondale Racecourse markets on a Saturday morning.
Autumn is also the start of the Bluff Oyster season. Bluff Oysters are the crème de la crème of the delicacy – strong flavoured and tangy they are reputedly potent in – ahem- other benefits also. Euro on Auckland’s waterfront often runs a special featuring a dozen big uns for $25. If that’s too rich for your pocket pop into any local supermarket and grab a pottle from the chiller, a bottle of wine and a picnic rug (and your beloved) and head to one of the many beaches for a sunset picnic. Head out fishing and you’ll be likely to bring home a fantastic feed of Snapper, one of New Zealand’s favourite fish. Grab a charter from one of Auckland’s wharves or hang around the marinas (Westhaven, Pineharbour, Half Moon Bay) and chat up local fishermen.
Kiwis will laugh at me when I suggest that Autumn is perfect weather in which to see NZ. In northern parts there is often a lot of rain, though I still maintain not as much as there is around August. And though we find the temperatures cold (relative to our warm summers) at an average of 14 deg C and compared to the Northern Hemisphere it’s not too bad. Then there are the Queenslanders who are often sick of the heat by this time of the year and the cooler climate can offer a welcome respite.
Whilst it’s usually too cold to swim it’s not too cold to get out and enjoy the outdoors. It’s a good time to hike (or tramp as we call it) and cycle and sail.
Tramp the Tongariro Crossing, if you’re keen, it’s worth the effort and you won’t be hampered by snow and ice.
If that’s not your cup of hot chocolate try more sedate one day walks even some of the walks around Auckland are easy enough for the whole family. Try the walk to the Hunua Falls, or the Kitekite track or even the Rangitoto Island Summit walk. Rangitoto is Auckland’s most prominent volcano and the walk to the summit includes a ferry ride and a two hour boardwalk which is rewarded with 360 deg views over Auckland city.
3. Hot Springs
Most tourists know about Rotorua and its fantastic geothermal region but what isn’t well known is that NZ is dotted with hot springs throughout the country. Autumn is the perfect time to laze about and ‘take the waters’ (though don’t DRINK them!). Try some of the more commercial hot pools around Auckland like Waiwera, Parakai or Miranda. Or go even further afield and really make a weekend of it.
Top of my list would be the gorgeous The Lost Spring spa in Whitianga on the Coromandel. It is divine. Love, love, love that place. If you are on the Coromandel you must go.
But the quintessential Hot Springs experience surely must be one found not too far from Auckland CBD. If you want to truly immerse yourself in hot water then check out the Parakai Naturist Days. Oh la la!
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