Snow-capped mountains, rich golden trees and dappled light – autumn is the perfect season to explore the region to make the most of the warm days before winter sets in.
Christchurch & Banks Peninsula
Nothing says autumn in Christchurch like a stroll through Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens, the changing of the leaves with the backdrop of the Avon River is postcard perfect! Discover your inner child jumping and running through the crisp golden fallen leaves - family fun for everyone! For the more energetic, a walk or a bike around the Port Hills is rewarded by crystal clear views out over the city to the Southern Alps beyond.
A picturesque one and a half hours drive from Christchurch you'll find Akaroa. En route to Akaroa, a stop at the Hill Top is a must with the vantage point warranting a photo or two of the beautiful harbour vistas below. The settled autumn weather means calmer seas, the perfect time of year to head out on a cruise or kayak tour.
The autumn colours in Hanmer Springs are dramatic and the best way to take it all in is by biking or walking through one of the many forest tracks throughout the village. With the days still warm the sunlight through the trees creates an almost mystical light perfect for photo opportunities. Finish the day relaxing under the stars in the natural and therapeutic waters of the thermal pools.
Hanmer Springs is not too far away from the coast, and it doesn't take you long to get to Kaikoura. Kaikoura is famous for wildlife: seals, dolphins, albatrosses and whales - just to mention a few. Why not take a tour to learn more about the marine environment.
Close to Kaikoura you'll discover beautiful Waipara Valley, the home of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. Autumn is the time of the wine harvest and an afternoon stop at one of the award winning wineries will be sure to delight the taste buds!
The Selwyn district is full of charming country towns, spectacular gorges and rugged High Country. Explore the area by bike or foot, or for something a bit different experience it via horseback! For the really adventurous, why not try a hot air balloon? The calm weather of autumn is perfect for this unique experience. Floating effortlessly over the Canterbury Plains with sweeping views of the Alps to the Ocean is something you'll never forget.
Mid Canterbury is an outdoor enthusiasts' ultimate playground and autumn is the perfect time to explore the many mountain bike and walking tracks in the area. For Lord of the Rings fans, the film location for Edoras the capital city of the Riders of Rohan lies in the heart of Mid Canterbury, on top of Mt Sunday. In autumn the landscape around Mt Sunday is truly breath-taking: The white peaks of the Southern Alps, in contrast with the crystal clear blue sky and the yellow grass of the paddocks - you can see why this was the perfect location for a movie set.
Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki are beautiful all year round, however in autumn they are even more spectacular! The cooler air offers a clearer view of the mountains and as the weather is more stable, a scenic flight around Aoraki/Mount Cook and the glaciers is a must! The early evenings and clear skies are ideal conditions to join the famous star gazing tours in Tekapo or Aoraki/Mount Cook. Being able to view the Milky Way and the planets with the naked eye is an unforgettable experience!
The ultimate outdoor paradise: hunting, fishing, hiking, cycling and rafting - South Canterbury has it all! For the brave ones out there wanting to try a grade 5 river raft: The Rangitata river is pretty wild with challenging rapids guaranteed. After your day of adventure be sure to sample the flavours of autumn fruit, vegetables, chutneys and jams at the Timaru Farmers Market.
Find out more about our top activities in Christchurch and Canterbury.