During autumn in Queenstown (March-May), the days are golden and sunny, produce is at its finest and the region is ablaze with fiery autumnal colours. The summer season comes to an end and the region switches into a slow peaceful groove before the excitement of the winter snow.

Autumn is the ideal time to take a leisurely break in the region. Stay in the heart of Queenstown or base yourself amongst the vibrant colours of Arrowtown, Arthur’s Point and Gibbston.

This six-day slow travel itinerary introduces you to the region’s artists and artisans, as well as inspires you to lace up your walking shoes and get into the hills, ride magnificent cycle trails, and re-energise at boutique day spas, hot pools, or yoga retreats.

Escape your everyday this autumn and give yourself the gift of time to reflect, relax, and explore nature amidst Queenstown’s breathtaking scenery and fresh alpine air.


Day 1: Unwind and recharge

Start your autumn break by unwinding and resetting to holiday time. Queenstown has a line-up of luxurious day spas, where you can book a massage or a beauty treatment, or simply spend time relaxing in a hot tub and enjoying the view.

Spend the morning at a day spa

Queenstown day spa experiences include:

  • Body Sanctum for their exceptional remedial deep tissue massages. Ideal if your muscles are a bit sore and tight from hiking or biking. They’re known for their blissful face massages and treatments too.
  • Harmony Spa is one for lovers of indulgent facial treatments, with a focus on skin and beauty. Their mindfulness facial includes a restorative meditation, and they’re also known for their excellent manicures and massages.
  • The Onsen Hot Pools. These hot tubs deserve all the love that they get. The cedar-enclosed tubs are gorgeous. The views of the autumn colours above the Shotover River are glorious.
  • Driftaway Queenstown Hot Tubs offer unrivalled views over the lake and mountains. Shrug off the stresses of everyday life and reset your clock to chill time in your own private hot tub. 

Yoga (and a stay) at Sherwood

Before you head out for dinner, stretch and restore with a yoga class in the serene studio space at Sherwood. They run daily movement classes in a variety of yoga styles. In-house guests can finish up with a sauna after class.

Sherwood’s a great place to rest your head this autumn. Named one of the world’s top ten most sustainable hotels by Expedia, the Sherwood team have repurposed a mock Tudor 1980s motor lodge into an eco-chic retreat with expansive kitchen gardens, bee hives, firepit, and delicious garden-to-table food.

Onsen Hot Pools with view over riverOnsen Hot Pools

Day 2: Explore local art, heritage and culture

Get to know the artists and the stories of the region and find some beautiful locally crafted treasures to take home. Hop on the $2 public bus to spend a while exploring the historical gold mining village of Arrowtown.

Arrowtown is also a culinary hub with a line-up of delicious cafes and restaurants. To do everything justice, you'll want to stay the night. There’s accommodation for all budgets from the luxury of Millbrook Resort, the charm of the Cottages at Lake Hayes, and classic Kiwi hospitality at the Arrowtown Holiday Park.

Discover Local Artists

Start your day by exploring the galleries and artist studios of Arrowtown. The village is home to four art galleries and a cluster of studios with everything from oils of the local landscape to bronze statues and basketry woven from wire, bull kelp, and other natural materials.

Keen to take in more local art events and culture during your stay? Check out our guide to what’s on in Queenstown in autumn.

Hear Stories of Our Goldmining Past

Arrowtown is a Tohu Whenua, a historical place of exceptional interest with many stories to tell. Start your journey into the past at the Lakes District Museum, before visiting the Chinese goldminer's village by the Arrow River, then exploring the quaint streets lined with old miners’ cottages. The historic Buckingham Street precinct has a line-up of these simple heritage buildings, now converted into boutiques, cafés, and galleries.

Explore the Boutiques of Arrowtown

Buckingham Street is also a great place to discover local craftspeople and artisan producers, with New Zealand design and fashion, carved jade and ceramics, fresh organic produce, chocolates, local wines, and whiskeys. Check out this guide to Arrowtown shopping.

Wallace and Gibs shop in Arrowtown
Shopping in Arrowtown

Day 3: Take in autumn colours on foot

Arrowtown Walks

If you’ve stayed in Arrowtown, start your day with a walk. Take it easy with the Arrow River Trail, a relaxing 4km stroll along the river through woodland and past a waterfall. Tobin’s Track is the best way to get a spectacular vantage point and enjoy the autumn colours. Not far from Arrowtown, the Lake Hayes Loop is 8km of gentle track around the lake, with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

For a more challenging hike, Sawpit Gully is a steep 8km loop with exceptional views over the Whakatipu Basin from the saddle. Brow Peak is for experienced hikers in good weather. Start from Sawpit Gully before tackling a 1000m climb into the alpine zone.

Arthur’s Point Walks

If your base for your break is Queenstown, then head to Arthur’s Point to take in autumn colours on foot. The Oxenbridge Tunnel Track is an easy 1.4km amble to a viewpoint overlooking the historic Oxenbridge Tunnel and an old steam engine. The Morning Star Track is even shorter and great for autumn colours. It takes you above the Shotover River ending at scenic Morning Star Beach. Both walks are a perfect excuse for a beer at Canyon Brewing or one of the other excellent Arthur’s Point eateries.

For a bigger challenge take the Moonlight Track to Moke Lake, passing the remains of old Moonlight Goldfields mining settlement Sefferstown. It’s a 15km hike one-way and you’ll need to arrange for transport to pick you up at the end. The trail also passes the turn-off to Ben Lomond Saddle. If you’re after a full day of spectacular, yet demanding hiking detour to this viewpoint or continue to the summit. Read our guide to outdoor safety before you go.

People on a pier at Lake Hayes in Autumn

Lakes Hayes

Day 4: Sample seasonal food and wine

Autumn, or ngahuru in Te Reo Māori, is one of the most anticipated times of year for the bounty of the harvest. The autumn months bring vintage in the vineyards, along with a wealth of produce like apples, pears,  and quinces, hearty veg like pumpkin, root vegetables, wild mushrooms, and game. Our celebrated chefs roll up their sleeves and create menus to showcase the best of this season.

Cycle Tour the Wineries

One of Queenstown locals’ favourite things to do in autumn is jump on their bike and cycle the stunning trail to Gibbston, stopping in for a glass of wine at their favourite cellar door. Hire a bike from one of Queenstown’s many bike tour companies and spend half a day pedalling the Gibbston River Wine Trail at your own pace, alongside the sparkling Kawarau River and beside vineyards, stopping in at cellar doors along the way to taste delicious Central Otago pinot and learn the story of Queenstown wine. If you only want to bike one way, bike tour operators offer return transport to Queenstown and Arrowtown.

Person on bike at Kinross WinesKinross Winery, Gibbston 

Places to Eat & Drink in Autumn

Here are a few of our favourite local foodie spots to visit this autumn.

Lake Hayes, between Queenstown and Arrowtown.

  • Mora Wines & Kitchen by Artisan. This local favourite combines tasting rooms with great food in an appealing cottage setting with a garden.
  • Amisfield. Nationally acclaimed, Amisfield is one of the places to try Central Otago’s exceptional produce. Seasonal fine dining at its best.
  • Stoneridge Estate. This handsome retreat also offers a five-course degustation menu. Trust the chef (you should) and they’ll serve up a delicious array of seasonal produce.
  • Ayrburn. This dining precinct offers up a casual bistro, a cellar door, an intimate cocktail bar, hand-churned ice cream, and delightful outdoor seating, with handy shuttles from town.

Arthur’s Point is a small township by the Shotover River north of Queenstown.

  • Canyon Brewing. A craft brewery with 11 taps of local brews, sharing plates, wood-fired pizza, and a deck overlooking the dramatic river gorge.
  • Gin Garden. Sample award-winning Broken Heart spirits. This local distillery’s gin-tasting room also serves a delicious food menu. We’re fans of the quince gin.
  • Rākau. A wood-fired pizza and grill. Pizzas are cooked in an oven fuelled with red beech wood and have delicious seasonal toppings including Gibbston Valley cheeses.
  • Gantley’s Tavern. A historic stone building built in 1865 to provide food, drink and lodgings to gold rush prospectors. Relax in the beer garden or enjoy a Sunday roast.

Gibbston is the nearest wine region to Queenstown and the hub of Central Otago Pinot.

  • Gibbston Valley Winery & Restaurant. Central Otago’s first commercial wine makers, and now home to a cellar door, and a restaurant using homegrown and local produce.
  • The Church Cellar Door and Café. This old church is a cellar door to Stronsay and Mount Edward Wines, along with delicious meals and a friendly cellar door cat.
  • Gibbston Tavern. Craft beers, local wines, and cracking pub grub including pizzas, nachos and burgers. Dog-friendly, kid-friendly, vegan-friendly – everyone friendly.

Exterior of The Woolshed Restaurant, Ayrburn with autumn coloured trees and distant mountains in the backgroundThe Woolshed Restaurant, Ayrburn

Day 5: Hit the trails by bike

One of Queenstown’s greatest treasures (right alongside our incredible setting, vibrant community, and incredible food and wine) has to be our cycle trails. Discover the Queenstown Trail,130km of offroad trails running along lakes, beside rivers, and through farmland, vineyards, and mountains.

You can hire bikes in Queenstown and Arrowtown, and with the advent of e-bikes, the trails are now even more accessible to cyclists of all ages and abilities. The 35km Arrowtown-Lake Hayes loop is particularly lovely in autumn and you can combine this adventure with exploring the Lake Hayes eateries above. There’s a guide to more great e-bike trails here.

A guided tour is a great way to meet locals and other travellers. You’ll unlock the secrets of this place in a deeper, richer way as you hear stories and fascinating facts about the region and our people. Ride to the Sky offers e-bike tours to the wineries and into the mountains.

Rider biking along the Edge Bridge with autumn trees in the backgroundEdgar Bridge, Queenstown Trail

Day 6: Gift yourself a golf day

Queenstown is New Zealand’s golfing capital, with eight courses within a 20-minute drive of the town centre. This lineup includes four championship courses, Jack’s Point, The Hills, and two 18-hole courses at Millbrook, which is home to the New Zealand Open in late February / early March, as well as being particularly lovely for autumn colours. 

Golf isn’t only a fun sport and a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the landscape. Our local courses are leading the way with their commitment to responsible greens management and regenerating the local environment. This makes Queenstown golf courses a great spot to encounter local birdlife. After you’ve strolled the greens, explore our celebrated food and wine scene.

Friends Golfing at Jacks Point in SummerGolfing at Jack's Point

Love Queenstown? Leave it Better.

If you’d like to give back, you can donate to Love Queenstown to support local conservation and biodiversity projects that make an impact. Or you can lend a hand and meet Queenstown locals while you’re here, by volunteering for an autumn planting day.

However you spend your autumn getaway, Queenstown is the perfect time to escape the pressure of everyday and discover a slower, more mindful way of life.