Autumn Colours In Central Otago

Autumn Colours In Central Otago

Autumn Colours In Central Otago

Image above: Wanaka Station Park- Ants Hansen

Were New Zealand’s colonial settlers a bunch of tree huggers? They certainly loved their deciduous northern plantings judging from the number of seeds they brought with them. Seeds they then sprinkled litterbug  style along riverbanks, lakeshores and roadsides for the oaks, elms, birches, poplars and willows to help remind them of home. Japanese maples and other exotics were added to the mix later.  The result for Lake Wanaka, Queenstown, Arrowtown and the river valleys that connect them? Stunning Autumn colours in Central Otago, and a much more welcome addition than the stoats, rats and rabbits that accompanied other early arrivals.

Here are a few favourite spots for photographers, romantics and nature lovers seeking the south’s annual explosion of colour. All you need are some comfortable shoes and a camera:

Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea

A photographer’s bucketlist destination in Autumn, the shores of these two lakes and their surrounding waterways, the Clutha and Hawea rivers, are easily accessed with walking and cycling tracks. Start your tour at the Clutha River Outlet. You can walk its length easily in an hour. From there Wanaka Station Park (pictured above) accesses the Wanaka foreshore which can enable you to walk back into town. Glendhu Bay on the way to Mt Aspiring national park is another area renowned for its poplars and willows. For an elevated view of the area, the top of Mt Iron walking track takes about half an hour to reach and provides a 360 degree vista of colour.

autumn colours central otago

Clutha River colours – Ants Hansen


 Arrowtown and Lake Hayes

Along the Arrow River and even as you approach this historical goldmining community along its tree-lined entranceway, you’ll have a huge range of photo opportunities with golden leaves and the reds of Japanese maples creating a brilliant mosaic. Pack a picnic and go for a wander up the trail toward Macetown to make the most of this special area. Another option is the first part of the climb of the Big Hill walk giving you enough elevation in about ten minutes to get an excellent overview of the basin.  The Lake Hayes walkway is an equally stunning excursion at this time of year with a well-formed, level path.


Autumn colours in Central Otago

Autumn on the Arrow River

Queenstown Gold

Over a century ago, they travelled from all corners of the globe to dig for gold. Now they walk for it. Queenstown Bay, the Gardens, the road to Glenorchy…Autumn is truly the Southern Lakes golden time for travellers. A great way to capture the overall perspective of the changing leaves is aboard the Earnslaw or from the lofty heights of the Skyline gondola. Use the local tourism office guide to walks in the Queenstown area or the Department of Conservation information.


Autumn colours in Central Otago

Autumn walks on Queenstown Bay