The hills surrounding the historic gold mining village of Arrowtown turn bright with the red and gold hues of turning cottonwoods, and all around town the deciduous trees spectacularly succumb to the cold in parks and along the banks of the Arrow River. Down by the Arrow River, there are numerous positions to take in the contrasts of the trees and the turquoise glacial river, and there’s even the Arrowtown Autumn Festival from 25 - 28 April 2024 with a parade and several community events celebrating the season.

Arrowtown cottages in AutumnArrowtown cottages in autumn

The Road to Kingston

The spectacular drive along the lakefront from Queenstown to Kingston is swathed in gold from late March and into June as the willows succumb to winter. This bright burst of colour contrasts with the deep grey of the mountains and turquoise of the lake. There are several rest stops along the road for a detour and play in the piles of leaves that form along the stony shores of Lake Whakatipu.

Lake Hayes

The rich colours of maples are reflected in the waters of Lake Hayes on a still day, and the bright colours are vibrant even on a grey day. Take the turnoff to Lake Hayes Reserve and go for a walk along the meandering loop track, encountering other walkers, photographers, cyclists and families enjoying the scenes along the lake — and the spectacular background views of the Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Cecil Peak.

Lake Hayes with colourful trees in Autumn
Lake Hayes in autumn

Shotover River - Arthur’s Point

On the drive between Queenstown and Arrowtown, the Shotover Canyon is covered with deciduous trees that turn vibrant shades of colour in autumn. Below the Edith Cavell Bridge is a place to stop for jet boating with Shotover Jet, a tipple of local craft beer at Cayon Brewing, or a scenic detour to capture the bridge surrounded by colour. Then head down Littles Road to take in the turning poplar trees.

Shotover River winding through mountains in autumnShotover River in autumn.

Queenstown Gardens

A stroll around the Queenstown Gardens during autumn will surround you with trees turning, complemented by the evergreens and amongst the perennial rhododendron trees.

Queenstown Gardens in AutumnQueenstown Gardens in autumn