Spring is just around the corner, so we’ve suggested some activities to inspire you as the weather gets warmer.
WATCH A WATERFALL
Spring is a wonderful time to visit a waterfall, and New Zealand has some magnificent examples.
If you’re in Northland, check out Whāngārei Falls, an impressive 26m waterfall in Whāngārei Scenic Reserve. Part of the Hatea River, it’s a lovely place to stop and stretch your legs. Take a walk around the scenic reserve, or park up and enjoy a picnic.
Many of our highest waterfalls are in Fiordland, and none have more water than Milford Sound, due to its high rainfall. At an enormous 161m, Bowen Falls is the highest and most powerful, and is one of only two permanent waterfalls in the Sound. You can see it from the small beach and walking track at Milford Sound, but the best way is to take a boat cruise, where you will be taken almost close enough to touch it.
ENJOY THE BLOSSOMS
There’s something magical about a tree in full bloom, especially when visited by grateful tūī or honeybees.
Celebrate the new season with a burst of colour in the middle of Auckland City. The trees and gardens at Cornwall Park come to life during the spring months. Follow the trail to see the blooms at their best. Pick up your trail map from Huia Lodge.
If you’re in the south over spring, plan to head to the Alexandra Blossom Festival. The Central Otago town of Alexandra shines in spring weather, with blossom-lined streets and orchards in full bloom. The festival runs over four days, from 24 to 26 September. It includes loads of fun and entertainment, with events like the Race Around the Clock, the Grand Procession, Mardis Gras, Party in the Park, and garden tours.
HEAD TO A MARKET
From tasty treats to handmade gifts, weekend markets are a delightful way to spend a spring morning.
The Queenstown Arts and Crafts Market is held every Saturday beside the lakefront at Earnslaw Park. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, it has a relaxed, holiday vibe. Artists from around the South Island come to the market to sell their quality handmade goods, so if you’re looking for unique gifts, or something special for yourself, this is the place to
One of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in the country, the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Market is brimming with fresh produce and artisan goodies. It’s held every Sunday from 8.30am to 12.30pm at the A&P Showgrounds, Hastings. We’ve heard the Harald’s Bread World German doughnuts are not to be missed!
Spring is the perfect time to discover a new cycle trail. The weather isn’t too hot, so you can enjoy a solid few hours of activity without getting exhausted.
The Hauraki Rail Trail in Coromandel offers something for everyone, from short day trips to longer 21km and 33km tracks. The trail makes use of the railway corridor, which creates a flat, wide and smooth trail for easy riding. The track runs south from Miranda to Thames and then to Paeroa, before branching to either Waihī or Te Aroha, so there’s plenty to see and do along the way.
If you’re in the south, the Alps 2 Ocean Trail in Canterbury is a must-do. The trail is divided into eight sections, taking riders through some of New Zealand’s most remarkable landscapes, from braided rivers to tussock-covered highlands and turquoise hydro lakes. The trail starts at Aoraki/Mt Cook and finishes at Ōamaru. There are activities and places to stay en route, so you could plan for a memorable ride over several days.
TRY A VINEYARD TOUR
Celebrate the new season with a glass or two of New Zealand’s finest wine.
Established in 1996, Kennedy Point Vineyard is Waiheke Island’s only certified organic vineyard. Set among 300-year-old pōhutukawa trees overlooking Kennedy Bay, it’s a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy sea views, relax in the picturesque olive grove picnic area, and sample award-winning organic wines, extra virgin olive oil, and Kennedy Point honey.
Point Bush Estates in South Canterbury is a boutique family-owned B&B (Te Kiteroa Lodge), vineyard, winery, cellar door and restaurant (Vines). Owned by Ann and Gary Dennison, the vineyard is on the east side of the Waimate hills, offering visitors a piece of paradise in the Hunter Hills.
DISCOVER AN ISLAND
Pack a picnic and take a day trip to one of the many islands dotted around our coasts and harbours.
Sitting at the bottom of New Zealand, Stewart Island (Rakiura) has less than 400 permanent residents. About 85 percent of the island is designated National Park, and is home to about 20,000 kiwi! Thanks to a carefully managed pest programme, the island has an abundance of other birdlife, too, including tūī, kererū (wood pigeons), bellbirds, little blue penguins, weka, kākā, and even the long-tailed bat!
Kawau Island is one of the largest islands in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. It has a fascinating history – it was bought as a private residence in 1862 by Sir George Grey, who travelled the world, bringing back exotic plants and animals. Today, the fully restored historical Mansion House where he lived is open to the public. A relaxing way to see the island is by the Royal Mail Run Cruise, which includes the option of a barbecue lunch.
GET BACK TO NATURE
Spring is when the birds really come to life. Make the most of it with a trip to one of New Zealand’s wonderful bird sanctuaries.
Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Waitati, Dunedin, is set over 307 hectares of Coastal Otago forest, including 230 hectares of nature reserve (conservation land that has been given the highest category of protection). A network of tracks of various grades provides good access to points of interest. Visitors can enjoy lunch at the cafe, and take home a souvenir from the gift shop.
Fondly known as ‘the maunga’ (mountain) by locals, Maungatautari Ecological Island is a world-class conservation project in the central Waikato, between Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Putāruru. Spanning 3400 hectares, the maunga is by far the largest pest-proof fenced project in the world. This extraordinary fence is 47km long and offers a safe haven for many of our most endangered species.
VISIT A MUSEUM
Spring weather can be unpredictable. If it turns cold or wet outside, why not stay indoors at one of the country’s fascinating museums.
Founded in 2011 by a group of creative minds passionate about steampunk, Steampunk HQ in Ōamaru promotes sustainability and recycling. The museum features an interesting collection of retro-futuristic sci-fi art, movies, sculptures, and sound. It’s housed in an 1883 grain elevator building in the vibrant Victorian precinct – within walking distance of the beautiful harbour and world-famous Blue Penguin colony. This quirky tourist town is well worth a look.
If you’re in Taranaki, don’t miss Hāwera’s Tawhiti Museum. Run by husband and wife Nigel and Teresa Ogle, it uses life-sized exhibits and scale models to capture the past in a series of super-realistic displays. The museum has regularly been judged New Zealand’s third best, after Auckland Museum and Te Papa. Make sure you see the Traders and Whalers exhibit, which takes you on a fantastical boat journey through New Zealand’s past.