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5 Fabulous Autumn Destinations | South Island | New Zealand

Autumn is a completely spectacular season and a beautiful time to explore. Here’s our top five South Island locations to experience the beauty of autumn.

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By far the most alluring place to be in autumn. So much so, the locals celebrate with a fun filled festival including art, culture, parades and market stalls. The Akarua Autumn Festival has been running for almost 36 years and provides an incredible seasonal experience. Nearby, Lake Hayes (according to Google) is the most photographed Lake in New Zealand offering brilliant reflections of surrounding mountains and willows. Walk the Lake Hayes Trail and make the most of it! 

Image courtesy of Jarrod Andrews

Wanaka’s lakefront is skirted by giant deciduous Poplars, an absolutely delightful scene in autumn. 'That Wanaka Tree', (a willow that grew from a fence post), will also shed it’s leaves and is a well-loved photo op for visitors. Vineyards are a spectacle of various shades of yellow and brown as the vines prepare to hibernate for winter. You’ll be mesmerised as you enjoy the vistas across the lake to a commanding Mount Aspiring. 

Image courtesy of Jarrod Andrews

Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
This iconic urban greenspace is home to hundreds of specimen trees which provide a technicolour treat in autumn. Well formed pathways take you on a winding adventure through a myriad of sculptures, water features, themed gardens and rockeries. Cosy conservatories provide all weather spaces to enjoy and birdlife is prolific. Mornings & evenings are cooler, but there’s still warmth in the autumn sun to enjoy a cuppa on a park bench as you take in the beautiful surrounds. You can add to the ambience of your autumn experience with a City Tram Tour or enjoy Punting on the Avon River.

St Anne’s Lagoon, Cheviot.
This beautiful wetland reserve is a sight to behold in the changing seasons. Tall Kahikatea trees reach for the sky from their saturated roots, tinged with the striking bronze of autumn. Mirror like reflections glare up from the stillness of the pond as melodic birdsong echoes through the trees. There’s plenty of parking and picnic areas to enjoy while taking a break from your journey. Signposted on SH1 approximately 5 kilometres north of Cheviot, make time to visit and enjoy this lovely, peaceful spot.

Hagley Park, Christchurch.
You’ve seen people in ski suits making snow angels, right? Well, Hagley Park is the place to make autumn angels! Abscission (it’s the fancy word for trees shedding their leaves) in Hagley Park will leave you (pardon the pun) knee deep in dry, rustling leaves. On breezy days you’ll feel like you’re caught up in natures confetti as little whirlwinds of colour are whipped up. Fantastic for photography, family fun, cycling or just a calm and picturesque place of contemplation, a trip to Hagley Park in autumn is totally magical.

Image courtesy of Christchurch City Council

That’s our top five autumn spots, but there are others. Lake Benmore to Sailors Cutting on the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail is spectacular in autumn, as is the Wairepo Arm of Lake Ruataniwha. While autumn may bring a lament for the passing of summer, its also a beautiful reason to marvel at the work of mother nature.

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