No crowds, beautiful weather, ever changing landscapes and the perfect seasons to get a bang for your buck—what’s not to love?!It’s common knowledge that the most popular times to visit New Zealand are in the winter for snow-bunnies and summer for road-trippers. But, there’s something to be said for off-season travel. The country’s stunning wilderness can be enjoyed all year-round, especially in spring and autumn. New Zealand’s location and geographic uniqueness mean there’s always options to make the most of its natural beauty—whether that’s hiking through beautiful autumn foliage in Central Otago or kayaking along the Kaikoura coast on a clear spring morning. What is most popular times to visit New Zealand.Here’s five reasons to visit Aotearoa’s North and South Islands during the shoulder seasons.
Spring (September-November) sees warm days and cool nights. There’s fresh daffodils in the fields and the waters get warmer—perfect for a beach trip. This is also “waterfall season,” when the country’s many falls flow mightily down rocky faces. With longer days and more hours of sunlight, this is a great time to explore New Zealand’s national parks like Aoraki Mt Cook (home to the country’s tallest mountain) and Abel Tasman.
Hiking is also a great activity to try out in autumn (March-May), when the days are bright and crisp. There are tracks for everyone. Hardened hikers might want to try the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a route that includes an active crater and emerald lakes.
Looking to cover more ground quickly? Choose one of the many cycle trails and hit the road. If you’re visiting in late autumn, make sure to take a dip in hot springs and geothermal pools in the Rotorua and Taupo regions.
Enjoy the great outdoors
Chances are if you’re visit New Zealand, it isn’t to spend all your time indoors. No matter what your age and preference, there is bound to be an activity you can enjoy.
Cycling is an environmentally-friendly way to explore the country. It’s easy to rent bikes and safety gear. All you have to do is choose from one of the many paths. For instance you could bike past glacial lakes on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail or cross suspension bridges and thick rainforests on the Timber Trail.
If you’d rather explore on two feet than two wheels, look no further than the great walks, a collection of trails across the North and South Island. These walks traverse different landscapes and can take between two to six days. Those looking for something less daunting, can try shorter half-day or full-day walks that still guarantee a great time outdoors.
It’d be a pity to restrict all your activities to the land given that New Zealand has about 16,000km of coastline to explore. Kayak to hidden coves and sail to secluded beaches that dot the coasts. If you don’t mind getting wet, then grab your surfboard and catch a few waves in Dunedin or Raglan, or check out eerie underwater scenery while scuba diving in Fiordland. Thrill seekers must try white-water rafting along rivers including the Tongariro which has various levels of difficulty.
Rafting is just one of the many adventure sports that New Zealand is famous for. Bungy jumping and skydiving give you a bird’s eye view of the glorious landscape while getting an endorphin hit, while spelunking takes you underground through astonishing cave systems, including caverns filled with glow-worms (the Waitomo caves) and stalactites. Try traveling by motorhome or campervan (see Wilderness Motorhomes)
Beat the crowds
Schools usually close for the summer between December and February, and that’s when most families take their annual holidays. In winter (June-August), people either stay indoors or hit the slopes. That means that the spring and autumn periods are relatively quiet and free of people. You have enough time and space to explore to your heart’s content, and not deal with extreme weather or crowds. When the people are away, go out and play.
Spend time doing what you love
Off-season means you don’t have to worry about wasting hours in queues or hustling to get bookings or reservations. Your vacation will feel like a holiday, rather than a working holiday. What’s more, traveling during non-peak periods lets you use discounts and offers. So, you can travel for longer and experience more without breaking the bank.
Take a leisurely break
Have you ever tried to extend a great holiday by a few days but failed to because there weren’t any rooms in your hotel? Or tried to book a spur-of-the-moment trip to a coastal getaway only to find tickets are sold out or exorbitantly priced? You won’t face any of those problems while traveling through New Zealand during spring and autumn. Take advantage of the shoulder seasons to plan spontaneous detours on your travels and stay longer at that charming bed-and-breakfast. You’ll discover new reasons to love the country.