LAZY DAYS

Written by root. Posted in FEATURES

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Published on May 17, 2016 with No Comments

If there were a season of sentiments, autumn in New Zealand takes the cake.

Words Redza Ismail
Images Tourism New Zealand

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Credit: davidwallphoto.com

 

Autumn in New Zealand is a time of plenty in every imaginable way. During the months of March, April and May, skies are blue and foliage is ablaze with golden colours. Fruit harvests are underway and New Zealanders are heading out at weekends to play and compete alongside visitors in a jam-packed calendar of events.

Kiwis have mostly returned to work or school and university after their summer break, leaving a playground for guests to enjoy at their leisure. Popular destinations are uncrowded at this time of year, and it’s easy to travel between towns and within cities. Now’s the ultimate time to swim with dolphins or seals, visit rare native birds in their home environment, gaze upon stars in crystal-clear night skies, picnic among the drifts of leaves carpeting the ground at lakesides and in parks, and join Kiwis at sport and play in the great outdoors.

The seasons in New Zealand are the opposite of those in the northern hemisphere. As winter-weary residents north of the Equator watch for signs of spring, New Zealand’s long, languid summer days are gradually giving way to autumn, bringing cooler evenings, brilliantly clear skies and gorgeously burnished landscapes.

While the native flora is evergreen, there are also many introduced deciduous varieties which lose their leaves when summer has past. Nature casts a mantle of golden colours across the autumn landscape. The countryside is alight with trees decked out in orange, yellow and fiery red, set against deep blue lakes and skies, and mountains in the distance dusted with their first sprinkling of snow.

Savvy photographers and film crews head here at this time of the year to capture the exquisite light and intense colours. All through the length and breadth of the country, you can feast your eyes (and camera!) on the changing of the guard in the gardens of heritage sites such as Pompallier House and Kerikeri Mission Station in the Bay of Islands, at themed and botanic gardens like Hamilton Gardens and Hadley Park in Christchurch, while you’re passing lavishly planted homesteads and backyard plantings, and the tree-lined shores of the South Island’s alpine lakes.

Settled conditions and the smaller numbers of private boats out and about mean you can enjoy water-based activities without dodging sudden rainstorms or having to compete for space. You can choose your preferred level of water sport excitement, from exhilarating jetboat rides exploring scenic outposts in the Bay of Islands or Shotover River canyons outside Queenstown, to boat tours further offshore to observe wildlife on protected islands like Kapiti near Wellington, to swimming with dolphins or watching them at play at destinations on the North Island’s east coast or coastal waters off Kaikoura in the south. The calm, clear waters provide excellent visibility for snorkelling around the Poor Knights Islands marine reserve 23 kilometres off Northland’s east coast. Your hosts provide wetsuits, and a hot shower and cup of soup on board when you surface.

Hiking and cycling tracks are usually dry and uncrowded during this time, too. It’s a pleasant time of year to take a spin along some of the trails in New Zealand’s growing cycle network, which covers all grades of difficulty from gentle gradient to challenging downhill runs. You’re also not too late to tackle one of the New Zealand Great Walks. Completing the world-renowned Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which involves traversing a multi-cratered active volcano, in a single spectacular day provides the kind of memories no souvenir could outclass.

Fruit trees would also be groaning with produce – rosy apples and pears, juicy oranges and plump green and gold kiwi fruit. The grape harvest is underway, and festivals offering delicious fresh food and other delectable nibbles and tipples are popping up everywhere. Many restaurants also refresh their menus to reflect local seasonal produce. At growers and farmers markets in towns and cities across the country, opportunities abound to rediscover old food favourites and sample bold new tastes.

On any day, anywhere in the country, you can count on New Zealanders’ good nature, good humour and generous hospitality. Providers are increasingly looking to provide environmentally friendly tourism, including accommodation in boutique lodges and retreats that combine green credentials with luxurious appointments in inspired natural settings.

Whether you’re an adrenalin addict wanting to pit yourself against the elements or the competition, a nature lover seeking solitary rambles in unspoilt habitats or beautifully curated gardens, a people-person wanting to hang out with the locals, or a connoisseur with an appetite for good food, autumn in New Zealand ticks all the boxes.

 

 

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Melbourne daily for connections to New Zealand.

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