It’s that time of year again in New Zealand.
As we slowly make our way through April, nighttime temperatures plummet, the frost begins, and the days become shorter. Winter is coming and so are the white walkers.
Wait, never mind. Autumn is here! My most favorite time of year!
Usually in sync with the first frosts, a row of trees near my house in Wanaka always turn red first and I know that fall is coming. Squee! Time to bring out the cozy sweaters, wooly socks and mugs of coffee and tea.
I don’t really know why I’m so obsessed with autumn, but I can speak to the fact that it evokes great nostalgia for me, and probably for many of you too.
It reminds my of my childhood growing up in Virginia, playing in leave piles meticulously raked by my dad. Going to pick pumpkins and for turkey roasts around Thanksgiving and maple pancakes on the weekend. Nothing beats an East Coast autumn.
In college I went to university in Massachusetts, where fall is quite perfect in every way.
But then I swapped hemispheres and moved to New Zealand, eventually arriving in Wanaka just before the beginning of autumn 5 years ago. I had to grow accustomed to seeing lambs in October and colorful leaves in April.
Mid to late April is usually the best time for autumn colors around Central Otago where I live. Of course, I am not a god (wish I was) so I can’t tell you EXACTLY when the leaves will change, but usually mid to late April is when they look the best!
One main difference here is that here I’m surrounded by vineyards as far as I can see, and I love when the harvest begins around autumn time and when the leaves on the vines change color. It makes me so happy!
I don’t believe New Zealand has any native deciduous trees (i.e. trees whose leaves change color), you can find them around many of the South Island regions and towns, especially where there are/were lots of farms.
And places like Christchurch also have lovely colorful trees. New Zealand autumn rocks.
Many farm driveways and roads are planted with poplar trees that turn the most beautiful golden yellow in autumn. I’m not sure why – wind blocking? Shade for the sheep? If anyone knows why, please update me.
For that reason, Central Otago and the Queenstown Lakes District, like Wanaka, Arrowtown and Queenstown have beautiful autumn colors, though they come with tourists.
I tend to head deep into the heart of Central Otago for autumn, around places like Clyde, Alexandra and out towards Naseby and Ophir. Here is the heart of the gold rush history, and a place that makes me heart soar. I always make a point to be here this time of year and to take it all in.
April is also a great month to travel in New Zealand since it’s usually mild and windless, before the snows have arrived but after the summer crowds have gone home.
Here are some of my favorite shots of autumn in New Zealand over the years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, and be sure to subscribe to my blog for when I start sharing new adventures from this autumn.
Are you a fan of autumn too? Can you relate to my nostalgia? Have you been around New Zealand in April? Spill!