New Zealand in Spring – Aotearoa in full bloom

Visiting New Zealand in spring is an unforgettable experience. With mild temperatures across the country, it can be a great time to explore Aotearoa’s magnificent outdoors. 

September, October and November are when spring falls in New Zealand.

These months are considered the shoulder season, meaning spring is a great time to find good deals on accommodation and tours. You’ll also be able to enjoy the scenery without the summer crowds, and ski resort towns will be quieter following the dispersal of winter tourists. 

Spring brings the beginning of the hiking season, beautiful blossoms, and ideal conditions for road trips. And when the temperatures drop in early spring, there are plenty of hot springs to warm up in.

You’re sure to see lambs while driving around, but it’s also hatching season for kiwis, so it’s well worth stopping at a kiwi sanctuary to spot New Zealand’s iconic flightless bird.

Yellow and red tulips blooming.
Spring brings a burst of colour to New Zealand. Wellington Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Celeste Fontein.

Is Spring a good time to visit New Zealand?

Yes, spring is a beautiful time to visit New Zealand. 

Thanks to the increasingly warmer temperatures, it’s a wonderful time to get back outdoors again. 

In fact, some consider spring to be the best time of year for outdoor experiences.  It rarely gets too hot or humid to enjoy energetic activities, and calm weather can bring greater visibility along New Zealand’s iconic hikes like the Tongariro Crossing or the Milford Track.

And whilst it might be too cold for swimming, a new season of water-based fun begins, from kayaking to white water rafting.

Those in Auckland often take the opportunity to visit the stunning Coromandel coastline during the spring months to enjoy an early beach vacation.

The ski season ends in mid-to-late September as icy mountain tops begin to thaw. And instead of bright white slopes, a new season of colours takes over the landscape. Purple lupins, yellow daffodils, pink cherry trees, vibrant tulips, and blossoms of all varieties and hues breathe new life into the country. 

The winter thaw also leads to an abundance of rushing waterfalls, which you can enjoy on a day trip to Auckland’s West Coast or with a road trip along the Bay of Plenty or the Haast Pass. It’s also a great time to see waterfalls in all their glory on a Milford Sound cruise. 

And that’s not to mention the gorgeous new spring lambs, calves, birds and more that you’ll see all around the country.

A young lamb playing with his mother.

New Zealand weather in Spring – what to expect

The spring weather is famously changeable.

Daytime temperatures are often mild and bright, but you should expect some cooler days with chilly breezes and showers – especially in early spring. 

Bring a raincoat, good shoes if you plan on tramping and pack a warm layer or two, along with sun protection.

Some parts of the country experience wild spring winds, so it’s good to be aware of that too.

By the end of the season, you can expect mostly sunny days, balmy temperatures and long evenings after the clocks go back.

New Zealand in September

September weather is the most volatile of New Zealand’s spring months, but it’s still a brilliant month for outdoor activities as long – as you’re prepared for potentially wet and windy conditions. 

Towards the beginning of spring, it’s still somewhat chilly in the south and rainy in the north.

On the bright side, you can still look out for snow-capped mountains, as the ski season runs until mid-to-late September (depending on the year).

Coastal regions are generally peaceful, and it’s a fantastic time for coastal walks as the spring wildflowers begin to bloom.

However, it’s still too cold for most of us to go for a swim – unless you’re in a hot pool, that is.

September sees a number of flower festivals pop up, including the popular Alexandra Blossom Festival in Central Otago. 

Flowers in full bloom at Christchurch Botanic Gardens.
The Christchurhc Photo: Michal Klajban.

Average New Zealand temperature in September

September holidays

There are no national public holidays in New Zealand in September.

School holidays will often start near the end of September, resulting in an increased number of travellers around the country.

New Zealand in October

October is a brilliant month to visit New Zealand. Following daylight savings at the end of September, visitors can enjoy longer days and later sunsets from the middle of spring onwards. 

The weather also starts warming throughout the country, so it’s the perfect time to embrace the outdoors… but the visitors that start arriving in November are yet to arrive.

Great Walks season also begins in late October. Though some can be walked prior to this, this is when we recommend hitting the trails Just be sure to book your Department of Conservation huts well in advance if you they plan on doing one of these multi-day walks. 

Average New Zealand temperature in October

  • Auckland – 18° / 11° (10 days of rain)
  • Wellington – 16° / 9° (9 days of rain)
  • Christchurch – 17° / 6° (6 days of rain)
  • Queenstown – 15° / 4° (14 days of rain)

October holidays

October’s only public holiday, Labour Day, is celebrated on the fourth Monday of October. 

While school dates differ across the country, most schools take a break for the first two weeks of October (sometimes starting late September).

During these times, tourist sites will be busier, and accommodation may be more expensive. It’s worth booking tours and accommodations in advance during October.

However, it’s still quieter than the busy summer months. 

New Zealand in November

If you want to take advantage of the pleasant spring temperatures before the busy summer months begin, then November is an ideal time to travel to New Zealand.

November has fairly consistent warm temperatures and long evenings. It’s perfect for relaxing beach days (though you must still find the weather a bit chilly) and coastal drives.

You’ll have excellent conditions for exploring the South Island’s iconic national parks without the crowds (and higher costs) of summer. 

Average New Zealand temperature in November

  • Auckland – 20° / 12° (7 days of rain)
  • Wellington – 17° / 11° (6 days of rain)
  • Christchurch – 19° / 8° (5 days of rain)
  • Queenstown – 18° / 8° (9 days of rain)

November holidays

There are no national public holidays in New Zealand in November.

A huge rock structure on a beach facing the wide blue ocean with a river delta behind it and a glimpse of the houses further closer to the woods.

Best places to visit in spring in New Zealand

Waikato

We love driving through the rolling green hills of Waikato while they’re dotted with wildflowers and frolicking baby lambs. 

Hobbiton is charming year-round, but it’s even more memorable when its carefully curated gardens bloom with bluebells and daffodils.  In fact, it’s our favourite time to visit this popular attraction.

Plus, September sees Hobbiton hold an immersive Lord of the Rings-themed event each September for International Hobbit Day. Fans should book tickets well in advance if they want to join the Bilbo Baggins-style party.

A pink and white blossom on a branch at Hobbiton.
Spring is a great time to visit Hobbiton.

While you’re in the area, don’t miss Hamilton Gardens. It’s the ideal time to see their award-winning and themed displays. 

And if you’re met with some unexpected spring showers, why not hide underground by exploring the magical glow worm caves in Waitomo or heat up in nearby Rotorua’s famous hot springs?

Hawke’s Bay

Spring is an ideal time to explore New Zealand’s wine regions, and Hawke’s Bay is no exception.

This area has over 200 vineyards and over 30 cellar doors so that you can enjoy the local wineries in the balmy spring weather.

Hawke’s Bay is an excellent destination for foodies too, with a wine and food festival taking place in November. 

That said, there are brilliant culinary and wine events all around the North Island during spring, including the Taste of Auckland and Toast Martinborough.

Lavender flowers blooming while people walk around the Napier Urban Farmers Market.

New Plymouth

If you love colourful Spring blossoms, you’d be wise to opt for a holiday to New Plymouth in the springtime. 

Wander independently around Pukekura Park and Pukeiti to see the rhododendrons or soak up the seasonal colour at our largest spring celebration – the Taranaki Garden Festival in October/November.

With spring’s clearer conditions, you’ll also have a reasonably good chance of seeing the magnificent Mount Taranaki looming over town.

Get closer to the mountain by exploring the hikes within Mount Egmont National Park, or unwind at one of the coastal region’s stunning beaches.

A woman walks in front of a building covered with huge paintings and murals.
Photo: Rob Tucker

Wellington

Wellington is an ideal city break if you’re unsure about the changeable weather in early spring, as it holds many of the country’s best museums and indoor attractions – perfect if you need to hide undercover at the last minute!

The city’s biggest spring event, the World of WearableArt Show (WOW), occurs from late September to October. This event is another great reason to visit Wellington – but book early as it’s incredibly popular.

The capital comes to life when the sun comes out; the city’s beaches are stunning in the spring. Nature lovers can spot fur seals along the Red Rocks walk, enjoy coastal hikes, or see rare native wildlife at Zealandia, a 225-hectare eco-sanctuary.

Alternatively, take in the Spring flowers at the Wellington Botanic Gardens and Blossom Valley.

Pink, white, yellow and orange tulips among white daisies.
The Wellington Botanic Gardens in springtime.

Christchurch

Christchurch is stunning in the springtime.

See the cherry blossoms at Hagley Park, pick daffodils at Hadstock Farm, and stroll the endless colourful tree-lined pathways at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

On a sunny day, punt down the Garden City’s picturesque Avon River, or take a day trip to go whitewater rafting along the nearby Rangitata River if you’re feeling more adventurous.

If you’re not blessed with cloud-free skies, there are endless brilliant museums to visit in Christchurch too.

A family in Christchurch Adventure Park riding an open cable car with the whole panoramic view of the city behind them.
Christchurch Adventure Park.

Tekapo 

Lake Tekapo is a must-see in late spring, when its shores become blanketed in purple lupins.

Between the lake’s bright blue waters, the blossoming lupins, and the Southern Alps behind, it’s no wonder that photographers flock here every spring!

Tekapo is also part of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, making it one of the best places to see our magical night sky. Spring’s (sometimes) calmer conditions can bring clear skies, so it’s also an ideal time for star gazing

The alpine wildflowers are also excellent around the corner in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, including the beautiful Mount Cook buttercup (sometimes known as the Mount Cook lily). 

From late October onwards, the conditions are usually ideal for hiking around this stunning region.

Lupin flowers growing beside the waters of Lake Tekapo.
Lake Tekapo is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand – and it’s no wonder why.

Kaikōura

Spring is a great time to spot wildlife in Kaikōura, as November is the migration season for orca and blue whale pods. You can also spot young sealion pups sunbathing on the shore.

Besides the abundant marine life, Kaikōura is known for its fresh seafood which is particularly fabulous eaten on the beach in the springtime.

School of dolphins underwater.
Kaikōura is known for its incredible marine life.

Fiordland

Following the thaw of winter snow, spring is known as waterfall season in New Zealand. And since Fiordland is famous for waterfalls, it’s a no-brainer that it’s a brilliant place to visit in spring!

Milford Sound cruises are excellent year round, but come spring we also recommend exploring the waters via kayak tours or on a [discounted] scenic flight.

Or make the most of the milder weather by hiking the iconic Routeburn or Milford Track

Spring is also an excellent time to bird watch and spot fur seals, but perhaps most notable in this area is the Fiordland crested penguins (tawaki) breeding season, which lasts until November.

These fascinating endemic birds are an endangered species, with only 2,500-3,000 breeding pairs left, so make sure you don’t disturb them if you’re lucky enough to spot one. 

A Fiordland crested penguin sitting on top of a large rock at Monro Beach in Haast.

Summary: New Zealand in spring

Those who visit New Zealand during spring are rewarded with the season of abundance. 

So much of what makes Aotearoa unique is in plentiful display, from the endless blossoms and wildlife viewing opportunities to the myriad of outdoor experiences and activities perfect for enjoying during the milder temperatures.

In fact, the only thing about spring that isn’t abundant is the crowds, as aside from a brief period in October, the spring months are considered shoulder/off-season. 

While New Zealand is spectacular year-round, it’s truly no wonder that many people consider spring a great time to explore Aotearoa! 

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