SPRING IN NEW ZEALAND – The BEST places to visit

Spring in New Zealand is a beautiful and vibrant season. It’s a time when the country emerges from the colder winter months, and nature bursts back to life with blooming flowers, lush greenery and powerful rivers and waterfalls from the melting snow.

Are you wondering if spring is a good time to visit New Zealand? Then you’ve come to the right place! In this complete guide you will find everything about visiting New Zealand in spring, what to expect and the best places to visit. And of course what the peak season is to see the beautiful lupins in New Zealand. 

We have traveled through New Zealand during spring in September and October. But also during autumn in April. So if you’re doubting between those two, then have a read as well through our autumn in New Zealand guide

Go here for our complete guide about the best time to visit New Zealand

General information about spring in New Zealand 

The first time we visited New Zealand was in spring. We choose this season over summer and autumn in the first place because we had done our research and came to the conclusion that, especially for landscape photography spring is one of the best seasons. I say one of the best, because autumn and also winter are incredible New Zealand seasons for landscape photography. I will explain further along in this guide the reasons why. 


Let’s first dive into some general facts about spring in New Zealand. The official spring months in New Zealand are September, October, and November

Spring arrives on the North Island first, resulting in much warmer temperatures on the North island then the South Island. Especially in Queenstown and more south it can feel cold and sometimes even snow a bit!  

So if you’re planning a north and south island roadtrip in spring, I highly recommend to plan your travels from the North island to South island.

Spring is shoulder season in New Zealand

One of the biggest advantages of traveling New Zealand in spring is the shoulder season. This results in a lower number of visitors with far less crowded places. Summer season is peak season in New Zealand when all locals are on their summer holidays in late December and January. Popular spots like the Bay of Islands, Rotorua and Queenstown can be pretty busy and pricey then. So if you’re visiting before, or after, this time you’ll be sharing the most beautiful places with far less people! 

Another advantage of shoulder season is discounted prices. When you visit New Zealand in spring you can enjoy lower prices on flights and accommodation. 

New Zealand nature in spring is flourishing 

Spring is a time when the country emerges from the colder winter months, and nature bursts back to life with blooming flowers, green landscapes, and an overall sense of rejuvenation. This is the perfect time to grab your camera and capture the beautiful green pastures, blooming wildflowers and powerful waterfalls. 

If you love waterfalls as much as we do, then you know that the power of a waterfall may vary per season. With warmer temperatures in spring, the snow in the mountains begins to melt, resulting in spectacular waterfalls. So spring is the perfect season to go waterfall chasing in New Zealand! The flowing water, in combination with flowering plants and lush green landscapes are the perfect ingredients for beautiful landscape photography.


Another advantage of visiting New Zealand during the early spring is the presence of snow on the higher peaks. This will make a beautiful contrast with the vibrant landscape. 


If you’re visiting New Zealand in spring for landscape photography, you must know about the infamous (and invasive) lupin flowers. These wildflowers can be seen in specific places throughout the south island. Especially along the shores of Lake Pukaki, Lake Tekapo, Glenorchy and some other places and rivers. More about the lupin flowers further up in this guide. 


Alpine flowers are also in bloom in late spring. New Zealand’s native flowers such as the  Mt Cook Buttercup can be found in sub alpine regions and bloom any time from late October through to December.

Is spring a good time to visit New Zealand?

Spring is a fantastic time to visit New Zealand. During this season you can witness the country’s stunning floral displays. You’ll find colorful blossoms, such as cherry blossoms, magnolias, daffodils, and of course the infamous lupins. The landscapes are green and lush, and the snow-capped mountains still offer breathtaking views in the early part of spring.

This was something we realised when visiting New Zealand later in the season during autumn again. Most of the snow was gone, but it was too early for fresh snow. So if you’re coming to New Zealand for the snow capped peaks, but you don’t want to go in the winter when it’s freezing, then spring is the best time to visit! 

Weather during New Zealand spring season

Spring in New Zealand typically lasts from September to November while the temperatures slowly make their way up. Early in the season you can expect temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees, while later in spring season you can experience 20 degrees plus. 

While you might still encounter some rain and cooler temperatures in the early part of the season, overall, the weather becomes milder, and the days become longer. However you should be prepared for varying weather conditions. There can still be occasional showers and cooler temperatures, particularly in the early part of the season. It’s a good idea to pack layers and be prepared for varying weather conditions. 


Best time to see the lupins during spring in New Zealand 

The best time to see lupins can vary depending on the region and weather conditions. Generally lupins in New Zealand reach their peak bloom in late spring, which is mid November.

The Mackenzie Region, particularly around Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki in the South Island, are renowned for its lupin displays. These areas often experience a spectacular burst of lupins in late November and early December. The fields and roadsides around these lakes become carpeted with vibrant lupin flowers, creating picturesque scenes against the backdrop of the turquoise glacial lakes and the Southern Alps.


However, lupins can bloom at slightly different times in other regions of New Zealand. In some areas, they may start blooming as early as September, while in others, they may continue blooming into December. It’s advisable to check the local conditions and weather reports closer to your visit for the most accurate timing.

It’s worth noting that lupins are considered an invasive species in New Zealand, and their growth can have ecological impacts. As a responsible visitor, it’s important to admire them from designated viewing areas, respect any signage or guidelines in place, and avoid trampling or picking the flowers. Enjoy the beauty of the lupins while minimizing your impact on the environment.

Best places to visit with spring in New Zealand 

Depending on your personal interest, the whole country is great to visit in spring. Known for its diverse landscapes and outdoor activities, you’re bound to find beautiful scenery and exciting experiences throughout New Zealand in spring.

Whether you love visiting festivals, blooming gardens or the lupins along Lake Tekapo, below you will find a breakdown of the best places to visit during spring in New Zealand. 

North Island

  • Tongariro National Park: Hiking in Tongariro National Park during the spring months is a great choice. The volcanic peaks of Tongariro, Ruapehu, and Ngauruhoe offer a breathtaking sight during the early spring months when snow still blankets their majestic summits. The contrast between the brown, red landscape and white peaks is a site to behold. 
  • Wellington: Wellington comes alive with vibrant festivals, events, and blooming gardens during spring. Visit the Wellington Botanic Garden and enjoy the array of colorful flowers and blossoms. Take a walk along the waterfront, explore the city’s art scene, and enjoy the bustling atmosphere.
  • Rotorua: Known for its geothermal wonders, Rotorua is a great time to visit during spring. Witness the bubbling mud pools, geysers, and thermal springs in places like Wai-O-Tapu and Te Puia. Take a relaxing dip in the natural hot springs and indulge in cultural activities and Maori performances. Read in our complete guide about the best things to do in Rotorua.
  • Bay of Islands: The Bay of Islands is one of the most popular places for New Zealand locals to vacation. The sunshine, stunning beaches, epic sailing and other amazing outdoor activities make a visit to this region a must during spring or summer.
  • Kaikoura: Spring is a great time to go whale watching in Kaikoura. This season offers a great chance to see sperm whales as they feed in the waters off the coast, providing an unforgettable experience.

South Island 

  • Catlins Forest Park: This hidden gem on the south part of New Zealand’s South Island might not be the first place you’re thinking about to visit in spring. But believe us, it’s so worth it! Catlins Forest Park is waterfall heaven. And one thing which is certain in spring, is that the waterfalls are full of power! Read in our complete guide about the best things to do in the Catlins
  • Glenorchy: Glenorchy is a cute little town located at the doorstep of Mount Aspiring National Park. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, stunning lakes, glacier fed rivers and ancient beech forests, Glenorchy is a magical little town away from busier Queenstown. It’s a perfect day trip with plenty of day hikes, fun adrenaline filled tours or a relaxing afternoon restaurant hopping while enjoying the breathtaking views. Spring is a great time to visit Glenorchy because the mountain peaks still have some snow which is a beautiful contrast with the vibrant green surrounding landscape.  Read in our complete guide about the best things to do in Glenorchy.

Lake Tekapo: Lake Tekapo draws many visitors to its shores during spring because of the stunning lupin flowers. Although this should not be the only reason you have to visit Lake Tekapo in spring, it is a very good reason to do so. The contrast between the gatorade blue lake and colourful array of wildflowers is something you won’t see anywhere else in the world. There are plenty of other things to do in Lake Tekapo which you can read in our complete guide

  • Queenstown: Spring in Queenstown is a great time to indulge in various outdoor adventures. The weather starts to warm up, making it ideal for activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and golfing. With plenty of amazing hikes in Queenstown this is a great place to base yourself for a few days. The snow-capped mountains surrounding Queenstown begin to melt, revealing lush green valleys and glistening lakes. Find here the best things to do in Queenstown.
  • Christchurch: Spring in Christchurch brings an explosion of color with the blooming cherry blossoms. The Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park are excellent spots to enjoy the floral displays. Explore the city’s post-earthquake rebuild, visit the International Antarctic Centre, and take a punt along the Avon River.

How to get around in New Zealand 

To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a carcampervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots. But for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand. 

Car rental New Zealand

Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads. We rented for 6 weeks a Mitsubishi ASX model and were super happy with this car! 

The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.


Campervan rental in New Zealand

Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a roadtrip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. Make sure to check if your campervan has a shower because this might influence where you want to camp. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will you give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you with nature.

We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn. They have a wide range of Stationwagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 road side assistance & long term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream roadtrip!

More New Zealand travel guides

I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about spring in New Zealand and that you can make it happen to visit during this beautiful season! 

We have many more New Zealand blog posts with all things to do and places to visit on the North and South Island of New Zealand. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas, head over to our other New Zealand travel guides!

North Island 

20 best photo spots on North Island New Zealand

25 best things to do in Rotorua – The Ultimate Guide

Best things to do in New Plymouth – The Ultimate Guide

15 best things to do in Taupo – The Ultimate Guide

Best things to do in Whangarei – The Ultimate Guide

12 best things to do in Hawkes Bay – The Ultimate Guide

Best things to do in the Coromandel – The Complete Guide

7 best KeriKeri waterfalls – The Complete Guide

South Island

35 best photo spots on the South Island New Zealand – The Ultimate Guide

30 best New Zealand waterfalls – The Ultimate Guide

20 best hikes on South Island New Zealand – The Ultimate Guide

30 best things to do in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

16 best hikes in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

20 best things to do in Lake Tekapo – The Ultimate Guide

22 best things to do in Wanaka – The Ultimate Guide

20 best things to do in Milford Sound – The Complete Guide

Milford Sound Cruise – The Complete Guide

20 best things to do in Glenorchy – The Ultimate Guide

15 best walks in Franz Josef – The Complete Guide

Kaikoura whale watching – Everything you need to know

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