Why Autumn is the best time of year for your NZ cycling holiday

Stunning views of Mt Cook on the Alps to Ocean cycle trail | Colin Monteath
Stunning views of Mt Cook on the Alps to Ocean cycle trail | Colin Monteath

We’re often asked when is the best time to travel to New Zealand? Honestly there’s never a bad time to travel in Aotearoa. If you ask the team at Adventure South NZ however, one of our top picks would be autumn, during the months of March and April (yes it's a bit backwards once you hit south of the equator).

During autumn you’ll escape the Summer crowds, enjoy cooler temperatures, clear skies and settled weather and best of all, the golden leaves come out in full force. With a few layers of clothing, you're in for a treat with optimal riding conditions.

Our active holiday seasons finishes at the end of April, so make sure you lock your Easter holiday plans in now.

Settled weather

While you may feel a chill in the air in the mornings and evenings, the days are usually warm and sunny. Throughout most of autumn, you can still swim in the ocean and do plenty of outdoor activities because the rain and snow of winter haven’t settled in yet.

While the temperatures are not as high as they are during summer, you won’t require a thick winter jacket in autumn. However it’s best to wear clothes in layers so you can easily add or remove them as the weather becomes colder or warmer.

The temperature at night can get cold in some places, especially in the South Island, but you'll be nice and warm in our comfortable accommodation.  March tends to be the warmest month, and May the wettest. By the time April and May arrive, you can expect to see dustings of snow on the mountains.

Poplars in Autumn | Tim de Jong

Fewer People

Autumn can be one of the quietest times to visit New Zealand. It’s a small country, so why not treat yourself to a more peaceful experience? Escape the crowds by travelling in the shoulder season. 

During summer our tourist season peaks and locals pack up their camping gear and head to the hot spots. By travelling in autumn, you'll experience shorter wait times, less traffic and less people clogging up the trails. It's a win win really.

If you’re keen to experience our renowned Kiwi hospitality, you’ve got more chance to meet, spend time, share a meal or a drink, and even stay with locals during the shoulder and off season.

Stunning views of Mt Cook on the Alps to Ocean cycle trail | Colin Monteath

Colourful landscapes

Whilst New Zealand’s native flora is evergreen, there are many introduced deciduous trees. Colourful changing leaves make Autumn a scenic delight, especially in regions such as Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay, known for their seasonal splendour.

From majestic alpine peaks, to vivid turquoise lakes and steaming geothermal terrain, New Zealand’s landscape offers immense variety.

Add in the changing colours of autumn and what is already a treat for the eyes becomes even more so, providing another layer of depth to the scenery. 

With more than 40 guided trips, Adventure South NZ offer the largest range of cycling and hiking trips in New Zealand. This includes cycle trails, road cycling and mountain biking, as well as a diverse range of hiking trips across the North and South Island.

From the planning stages to the adventure itself, we consider every moment of our tours to create extraordinary experiences. We are travellers at heart, and here to help you get the most out of your time in our wonderful wilderness.

Lock in your Autumn adventure here or contact us [email protected]

Weather facts for Autumn 

North Island weather: 17-22⁰C (62-71⁰F), 90-130mm of rainfall per month

South Island weather: 13-19⁰C (55-66⁰F), 60-100mm of rainfall per month

March - Warm days and Summer breezes. Covering up from the sun is still essential.
April - Crisp, clear days with a bite in the air, so you'll need an extra layer or two

March brings approximately 13 hours of daylight, April 11.5 hours

Cycling the trails of Lake Ohau |  <i>Vincent Kong</i>

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