1. Take a walk to see the autumn colours

Immerse yourself in nature’s vibrant colours. Arrowtown is one of our favourite spots for an autumn wander, combining a rich gold mining history with treelined streets of heritage buildings, now home to cafés, galleries, and boutiques. Wrap up warm and get out along the Arrow River, scramble up Tobin’s Track, or stroll the Lake Hayes Loop on the way back to Queenstown. It’s easy to get to Arrowtown using the public #2 bus, and it only costs $2.00. 

The Queenstown Gardens are also a great spot if you feel like a quick walk. The exotic trees planted in the arboretum date back to the 1800s, and you can see the golden poplars lining the lake from the gardens. Check out our guide for more places to see autumn colours.

Lake Hayes in Autumn
Lake Hayes in Autumn

2. Visit the Queenstown wineries to sample Central Otago Pinot

Early autumn is a great time to come and experience the wine harvest, where tonnes of grapes are harvested from Central Otago’s 200 vineyards. Treat your taste buds to lunch at one of the region's many fine winery restaurants after visiting their cellar doors. If you’re feeling like something more active, you can hop on a bike and join a ‘cycle the vines’ tour

A group of people attending a wine tasting at Kinross in Gibbston near QueesntownWine tasting at Kinross, Gibbston

3. Visit Glenorchy

The town of Glenorchy is a spectacular 45-minute drive from Queenstown along the lake shore. Set amongst snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, the little township is the gateway to Te Wāhipounamu, the South West World Heritage Area. This natural splendour has made the Glenorchy region the epic backdrop for many international films, including The Lord of the Rings.

The village offers a visitor centre, general store, dining and accommodation options, while the Trading Post sells New Zealand-made gifts, as well as delicious café food, and homemade baking. If you’re staying for dinner, the Headwaters Dining Room serves up delicious food made with local produce, much of it grown in their kitchen garden and foraged locally.

Autumn is the ideal time to visit Glenorchy and immerse yourself in nature. The region is a hiker’s heaven with beautiful walks for all abilities and energy levels. It’s also the starting point for The Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks, which starts from Glenorchy into Fiordland. Hiking isn’t the only outdoor adventure the area has to offer, so stay for a few days to explore the area in depth.

Photo from the point of view walking along the Glenorchy walkway with mountains and the rising sun ahead
The Glenorchy Walkway

4. Enjoy seasonal produce

You’re spoilt for choice in Queenstown with dining options that highlight locally sourced ingredients. Think menus inspired by fresh seafood, venison and Cardrona Valley merino lamb, wild pheasant, rabbit and hare, vegetables, mountain herbs, and stone fruits. Talented local chefs carefully craft stylish contemporary meals and gourmet burgers. More than 150 eateries cater for every taste and any occasion.

Here are some of the best Queenstown restaurants to try seasonal local produce.

  • Amisfield works with local hunters, foragers, farmers and fishermen to source the best Central Otago produce. Their head chef is recognised as one of the finest in the world.
  • Gibbston Valley Winery. A winery restaurant passionate about using seasonal local ingredients, including produce from their organic kitchen gardens.
  • Rātā. Set in an urban beech forest, their intriguing menu features local seasonal highlights and their pickles and ferments preserve the tastes of the south.
  • Sherwood. Another great restaurant with close ties to local producers, large kitchen gardens, and a dedication to seasonal eating.
  • The Grille. The menu here highlights the best seasonal flavours, with a butcher’s board featuring unusual cuts of Central Otago meats and Southland seafood.
  • The Lodge Bar. Hunting lodge chic in the heart of Queenstown, with a menu of seasonal delights. Don’t miss the Bluff oysters and the Cardrona venison.
  • True South Dining Room. Part of the Rees Hotel, their adventurous menu changes monthly, and only uses produce sourced south of Waitaha Canterbury.

If the dining options above whet your appetite for more fine Central Otago produce, Royalburn Farm Shop in Arrowtown is the spot to find local fruit and veg, meats, charcuterie, free-range eggs, and small goods. Pack a picnic or take a taste of Queenstown home.

Aosta winter menu and fresh produce
Aosta restaurant, Arrowtown

5. Play a round of golf

If you’re a golfer, be sure to bring your clubs to Queenstown this autumn. Home to New Zealand's most stunning fairways, Queenstown boasts eight spectacular golf courses, including four championship courses and four experience courses, all with their own unique greens and natural features. The New Zealand Open is played here every year at the end of summer. Not only is a day golfing in Queenstown a chance to escape the hustle, but it's also a great way to re-energise surrounded by stunning lake and alpine scenery.

Queenstown golf courses are leading the world when it comes to looking after nature and the local community. From tree planting and pest trapping to more environmentally responsible greens management, and a wealth of fun community collaborations, play golf in an environment becoming ever richer in birdsong, natural beauty, and local culture.

Millbrook Resort in AutumnMillbrook Resort in Autumn

6. Visit the Arrowtown Autumn Festival, 25 - 28 April 2024

The Arrowtown Autumn Festival provides a superb reason to get out and enjoy the autumn vibes and the magnificent colours of the season.

The streets of Arrowtown come alive with a street parade and a programme of community-based events celebrating the town’s gold mining history, agricultural roots, and the bounty of harvest. Annual festival favourites include a local art exhibition, colourful street entertainment and Pie, Pint & Pinot’s showcase of regional produce.

Crowd attending cultural performance at the Arrowtown Autumn FestivalArrowtown Autumn Festival

7. Reset and revitalise

After a busy start to the year, a leisurely autumn break is a great chance to slow down and recharge. Queenstown is one of the places to reinvigorate body and soul, with our internationally recognised retreats and lodges, day spas, and hot pools, all set in breathtaking scenery to help you refresh and unwind.

Give yourself the gift of a multi-day retreat in the heart of the mountains at Aro-Ha or The Headwaters Eco Lodge in Glenorchy. Both retreats combine classes in yoga, and breathwork with outdoor adventures, and nourishing local food in luxurious surroundings.

Other ways to wellness in Queenstown include a yoga class or retreat. Try hot yoga at Studio Sangha, choose from different yoga styles at Nadi Wellness, or head to one of the daily yoga sessions at Sherwood.

Two women relaxing in the outdoor spa at Aro Ha Wellness RetreatAro Ha Retreat, Glenorchy

8. Bike the Queenstown Trail

Queenstown is surrounded by 130km of magnificent off-road bike trails running through some of the most sensational cycling terrain you could wish for. E-bikes make biking accessible to everyone, no matter your age and ability, and you can rent a bike and a helmet and set out to explore the trails or join a guided tour.

One of our favourite trails in autumn is the Arrow River Bridges Trail for autumn colour, picturesque river vistas, and historic suspension bridges. 13.7km of easy riding, this one’s great for families, or those who haven’t been in the saddle for a while. You can carry on into Gibbston along the Gibbston River Wine Trail to enjoy the blaze of the autumn vines and sample local vintages. If you love your time on the trails and want to help support non-profit organisation, Queenstown Trails to maintain and keep growing the network, become a trail lover.

Biking across suspended bridge with autumnal bush and trees in backgroundQueenstown Trail

9. Shop for local artisan wares and secondhand treasures 

Treat yourself to an exquisite locally made creation to remind yourself of your autumn love affair with Queenstown. Arrowtown is a hub of artisan boutiques and galleries, where you can find New Zealand designer fashion, art, ceramics, and handmade jewellery, as well as delicious local produce including Central Otago wines, whiskeys, cheeses, and chocolates.

Keen secondhand shoppers and vintage lovers will enjoy this guide to Queenstown op shops and vintage stores.

Shoppers walking along Buckingham Street, Arrowtown in AutumnBuckingham Street, Arrowtown

10. Grab a cuppa with a view

Cosy up at one of Queenstown’s great cafés. It’s no coincidence that some of the best places to grab a coffee and a piece of homemade cake are single-use cup free, so check out these good cafés run by great humans making the Queenstown coffee scene even better.

People dining at The Boat Shed Cafe and BistroThe Boat Shed Cafe & Bistro

Love autumn in Queenstown?

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 getaway, autumn in Queenstown is the perfect time to escape the pressure of everyday and discover a slower, more mindful way of life.​