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5 best places to visit for Autumn colours in New Zealand

Autumn destinations in New Zealand

Are you renting a car and going on a road trip in New Zealand this Autumn? Lucky for you, you’ve picked one of the best times of the year to explore this magical country. Filled with brisk sunny days and scenery at its finest, check out the five best places to visit for autumn colours! Make sure to book your car rental with VroomVroomVroom on your New Zealand road trip so you can explore to your heart's content.

Mackenzie Country

The incredible setting of Lake Tekapo.
The incredible setting of Lake Tekapo / Takapō.

Lake Pukaki/ Pūkaki and Tekapo / Takapō are amazing places to catch sight of gorgeous autumn tones. The juxtaposition between the blue glacial water, stark mountains and autumn leaves are something you need to see at least once in your life.

Directions: You can pick up your rental car in Christchurch / Ōtautahi and drive three hours southwest to Mackenzie Country.

Recommended car: Hire an SUV with VroomVroomVroom for a comfortable and spacious ride.

Tips: While you’re in the area, make sure to check out Mount Cook / Aoraki and Franz Josef and Fox glacier. Mackenzie Country is where you are going to find the majority of golden and red leaves as the temperature and positioning here is perfect.

Arrowtown and Queenstown / Tāhuna

A picturesque Autumn day in Arrowtown.
A picturesque Autumn day in Arrowtown.

Although this humble town is small, there are stunning displays of Autumn colours to feast your eyes on, right here in Arrowtown. It gets even better, you can check out the Arrowtown Autumn Festival that falls on Anzac Weekend. This place is a must-visit for all things Autumn and is an ideal place to enjoy those golden tones we all know and love. Back in Queenstown, you can spot magical autumn leaves while you walk along the water. Arrowtown and Queenstown /Tāhuna are easily accessible and are definitely worth spending a fews days in.

Directions: You can pick up your rental car in Queenstown / Tāhuna which is only a 21 minute drive away. Alternatively, you can rent a car in Christchurch / Ōtautahi and road trip down south and stop in here on your way.

Recommended car: To enjoy the views and cool autumn breeze, it would be great to book a convertible. If you are bringing some of your hiking gear, then an SUV would work best.

Tips: If you want to get a taste of traditional pub meals and designer burgers, then head to downtown Queenstown / Tāhuna. For those who are planning to go hiking and walking, check out the trails in Queenstown Hill.


Autumn colours by Lake Wanaka.
Autumn colours by Lake Wānaka.

Pack a picnic and take your rental car to Lake Wānaka. You can explore the area and relax in nature here. This lake is seriously impressive and worth the stop if you are interested in checking out autumn colours or just the lake itself.

Directions: You can get here from Queenstown / Tāhuna quite easily, only taking you a 50 minute drive north.

Recommended car: Treat yourself to a taste of luxury and hire a Mercedes Benz C200 or similar, or if you are looking for a bigger car, try a premium SUV.

Tips: Stay in Queenstown / Tāhuna and take a day trip up to Wānaka. The trip there and back is short enough to do in a day.

Central Otago / Ōtākou

Autumn colours in Otago.
Autumn colours in Otago / Ōtākou.

Set on the Taieri River, as far as the eye can see are trees flourishing with bright and colourful leaves. Most of the year the south island is filled green tones like anywhere else, but for a while the trees become as colourful as a rainbow.

Directions: You can drive from Queenstown / Tāhuna or from Dunedin / Ōtepoti to get to Central Otago / Ōtākou. Each drive features amazing scenery, so it's a win-win!

Recommended car: For country driving, we recommend an SUV such as a Mitsubishi Outlander or similar for a comfortable drive.

Tips: An awesome spot to check out is Clyde Dam Lookout. You'll see the vast array of autumn tones in this idyllic location.

Christchurch / Ōtautahi

Take an Autumn stroll in Christchurch.
Take an Autumn stroll in Christchurch / Ōtautahi.

Gaze upon the vibrant foliage lining Avon River and take a stroll through Hagley Park. Christchurch / Ōtautahi is the perfect starting point to explore the south island of New Zealand because there are major airports nearby, plus the world renowned Christchurch / Ōtautahi to Queenstown / Tāhuna road trip route that everyone needs to try at least once in their life, if you ask us!

Directions: You can pick up your rental car in Christchurch / Ōtautahi and start exploring the south island from here.

Recommended car: If you are staying in the CBD, a small compact car is recommended for city driving. This way you will feel more comfortable getting in and around the busy city.

Tips: While you are in Christchurch / Ōtautahi, check out the amazing food scene and art galleries here.

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