SPRING IN NEW ZEALAND

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SPRING IN NEW ZEALAND IS A LIVELY SEA­SON IN­SPIRED WITH COLOUR, FLAVOURED WITH EARLY PRO­DUCE AND NEW WINE RE­LEASES, AND POP­U­LATED BY NEW LIFE AND CRE­ATIVE FES­TI­VALS CEL­E­BRAT­ING EV­ERY­THING FROM SEAFOOD TO ARTS AND CULTURE.

Ahead of the sum­mer crowds,

New Zealand’s spring months – Septem­ber, Oc­to­ber, Novem­ber – set their own unique tone for en­tic­ing out­door holiday ex­pe­ri­ences

Days are get­ting longer and this is a sea­son of many faces – from trim city gar­dens and farm­ers’ mar­kets heav­ing with fresh pro­duce to green pas­tures filled with lambs and the fresh pow­der snows of the late ski sea­son.

Travel north to south and you will see the sea­son as it un­folds. Renowned for its spec­tac­u­lar scenery and di­verse land­scapes, a New Zealand spring awak­ens the coun­try re­gion by re­gion over sev­eral weeks as the warmer tem­per­a­tures spread south­wards across 1600km (900 miles) and from 34 to 47 de­grees lat­i­tude south.

Spring is def­i­nitely the sea­son to ad­mire the beauty of New Zealand’s flora and forests, wild and land­scaped, at their very best. From the yel­low swathe of kowhai trees with their nec­tar-heavy flow­ers that are a mag­net for na­tive song­birds, and the sur­real green of un­furl­ing fern fronds to massed spring bulbs,

HOBBITON WAS A SIG­NIF­I­CANT LO­CA­TION IN LORD OF THE RINGS FILM TRIL­OGY. IT IS ON A FAM­ILY RUN FARM IN WAIKATO AND A PARK/ TOUR SITE FOR LORD OF THE RING FANS.

wild lupins and bril­liant rhodo­den­drons, new life pops up ev­ery­where to be cel­e­brated in a se­ries of gar­den fes­ti­vals through­out Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber.

Hobbiton – New Zealand’s most fa­mous gar­den – is never more glo­ri­ous than when the pretty as a pic­ture hob­bit gar­dens blos­som while, from north to south right across the coun­try, many gar­dens of in­ter­na­tional and na­tional sig­nif­i­cance open their gates to the pub­lic. In the North Is­land, the Taranaki Gar­den Spec­tac­u­lar is a ma­jor fes­ti­val with 50 gar­dens on show, but en route don’t miss Hamil­ton Gar­dens in­ter­na­tion­ally-ac­claimed themed gar­dens or Ro­torua’s lovely ther­mal park. In the South Is­land, the massed daf­fodils of Ha­gley Park and Otahuna Lodge in Christchurch of­fer a truly spec­tac­u­lar mo­ment in spring­time.

Spring pro­vides plenty of clear, set­tled days for ex­plor­ing the great out­doors. Mild spring days and a lack of crowds mean this is a good time to dis­cover some of New Zealand’s mul­ti­tude of walk­ing or cy­cling tracks. Hire a bike and cy­cle the spec­tac­u­lar Karanga­hake Gorge gold min­ers’ trail in the Coro­man­del, the ther­mal trails around Ro­torua or through the

THE CANYON IS FOUND DEEP IN­SIDE THE AN­CIENT WHIRI­NAKI RAIN­FOR­EST IN NEW ZEALAND’S NORTH IS­LAND. AF­TER TREKKING A SHORT DIS­TANCE TO THE CANYON THE SCENERY IS WELL WORTH THE TREK TO THE RIVER.

south­ern vine­yards of Queen­stown’s Gibb­ston Val­ley.

Take a walk on the wild side with Foris Eco tours on one of New Zealand’s best day hikes through Whiri­naki’s ‘di­nosaur for­est’ to meet the lo­cals in their nat­u­ral habi­tat; or dig your heels in the sand on the rugged south­ern coast of West­land where World Her­itage pro­tected tem­per­ate rain­forests meet the ocean and lo­cal wildlife – pen­guins, New Zealand fur seals or ele­phant seals – can be found en­joy­ing balmy spring days with their lat­est off­spring.

Or visit Rain­bow Springs’ Kiwi En­counter, in Ro­torua, to meet the cute new kiwi chicks as they hatch out of their im­pos­si­bly (for the mother) large eggs. The first of the new sea­son’s lit­tle kiwi will hatch in Septem­ber, and there are likely to be an­other 100 eggs com­ing into the hatch­ery over the next few months.

All this love­li­ness and ram­pant new life on dis­play means spring is a great time to be in New Zealand with a cam­era. Be­yond the ex­tremes of win­ter and sum­mer, the length­en­ing days mean pho­tog­ra­phers will be re­warded with lighter morn­ings to go with the

flush of spring greens while snow re­mains on the higher moun­tain peaks mak­ing for ex­cel­lent scenic im­ages.

Fields are filled with the bleat­ing of spring lambs – a group of lambs in green pas­ture, back-lit with the morn­ing sun­shine and snow-capped peaks in the back­ground is a quin­tes­sen­tial New Zealand im­age.

Off the beaten track, the end­ing of win­ter opens many un­made roads which are closed dur­ing the snow, al­low­ing ac­cess with suit­able ve­hi­cles to the road less trav­elled.

Mar­cus Adams, who leads Trav­el­ing Light Pho­tog­ra­phy tours, rec­om­mends a spring visit to New Zealand as it “will re­ward the pho­tog­ra­pher with soft light, stun­ning scenery and the un­fold­ing wheel of life in the fields and pas­tures. Well worth it!”

New Zealand is long, rel­a­tively nar­row, and en­cir­cled by an as­tound­ing 15,000 kilo­me­tres of coast­line so you’re never far from the sea and large ex­panses of clear, calm wa­ters that pro­vide great con­di­tions for div­ing, kayak­ing, fish­ing, and other wa­ter sports.

French explorer Jac­ques Cousteau named the Poor Knights Is­lands Marine Re­serve, just off north­ern New Zealand’s Tu­tukaka coast, as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. The Knights at­tracts tens of thou­sands of divers an­nu­ally who come to ex­plore the myr­iad won­ders of this

AC­TIV­ITY SPEEDS UP WITH FISH SPAWN­ING, UPWELLING CUR­RENTS BRING­ING PLANKTONIC GOOD­NESS AND FEED­ING FRENZIES. THE IS­LANDS NEVER SLEEP BUT THEY TRULY EN­ER­GISE WITH LIFE.” SAYS DIVE! TU­TUKAKA OP­ER­A­TOR KATE MAL­COLM. SPRING IS AN AMAZ­ING SEA­SON TO DIS­COVER THE POOR KNIGHTS MARINE RE­SERVE.

colour­ful yet ethe­real un­der­wa­ter world in­hab­ited by an amaz­ing ar­ray of marine life.

A dip in ther­mal min­eral wa­ters holds ex­tra ap­peal in spring be­fore the sum­mer heat and the crowds ar­rive. At Hot Wa­ter Beach, on the North Is­land’s Coro­man­del Penin­sula, you can dig your own hot bath in the sand at low tide thanks to an­cient springs be­neath the beach; that makes for a con­vivial so­cial event with your sig­nif­i­cant other or a group of friends.

Just a lit­tle fur­ther south, Poly­ne­sian Spa – on the edge of Lake Ro­torua – has been voted one of the world’s 10 best day spas. Soak off the day’s ac­tiv­i­ties in a steam­ing, nat­u­ral ther­mal pool or suc­cumb to a rein­vig­o­rat­ing mud treat­ment.

The South Is­land has an alpine take on ther­mal won­ders. Han­mer Springs – 90 min­utes north of Christchurch air­port – is New Zealand’s premier alpine spa. Re­lax in one of the many sculp­tured rock pools with tem­per­a­tures rang­ing from 33˚C to 41˚C or, fur­ther south, wile the evening away be­neath the South­ern Alps in the heated glacial wa­ters at Tekapo Springs and Omarama Hot Tubs.

Greener pas­tures also make for an abun­dance of fresh lo­cal pro­duce and wine, mak­ing spring the ideal sea­son to jour­ney along New Zealand’s many food and wine trails. Farm­ers’ mar­kets are a Satur­day morn­ing high­light in many re­gions, and it’s also the time when vine­yards cel­e­brate the re­lease of their new sea­son’s wine.

Some of New Zealand’s finest seafood del­i­ca­cies are at their fresh­est and best in spring. The king sal­mon sea­son be­gins early Oc­to­ber so where bet­ter to sam­ple from than Mt Cook Alpine Sal­mon’s

Tekapo site which is fed year-round by fast flow­ing glacial wa­ters, and, at 677m above sea level, qual­i­fies as the world’s high­est sal­mon farm. Only avail­able in spring, there’s also de­lec­ta­ble New Zealand white­bait net­ted from the river mouths of the South Is­land’s West Coast and served up as a white­bait pat­tie.

FAWC (Food & Wine Clas­sic) held in Hawke’s Bay is the not-to-be-missed spring culi­nary fes­ti­val of the finer arts. It runs for 10 de­li­cious days and in­cludes dozens of stand-out food and wine ex­pe­ri­ences from din­ners with the wine­maker to long lunches, pop-up des­ti­na­tions, and glo­ri­ous food mar­kets.

Spring ski­ing in New Zealand of­fers more op­por­tu­ni­ties for milder days on the slopes with­out the crowds. The ski sea­son con­tin­ues un­til Oc­to­ber, giv­ing snow sports lovers an ex­tended chance to ex­pe­ri­ence un­crowded fields or off-piste ski­ing, snow­board­ing, and heli-ski­ing.

Queen­stown and nearby Wanaka are en­joy­ing pretty blos­soms on the trees, daf­fodils burst­ing into life, and crisp, fresh morn­ings fol­lowed by beau­ti­ful sun-filled days – per­fect for a re­lax­ing es­cape or for ex­plor­ing the trails by bike or by foot.

Ao­raki / Mount Cook is the high­est moun­tain in

New Zealand. It lies in the South­ern Alps, the moun­tain range which runs the length of the South Is­land. A pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion, it is also a favourite chal­lenge for moun­tain climbers.

Whiri­naki Te Pua-a-Tāne Con­ser­va­tion Park is a pub­lic park in the North Is­land of New Zealand. The park is cen­tered on the town of Ming­inui and part of the east­ern boundary flanks Te Urew­era. The for­est is one of the world’s last pre­his­toric rain­forests.

Cham­pagne Pool is a prom­i­nent geo­ther­mal fea­ture within the Wai-O-Tapu geo­ther­mal area in the North Is­land of New Zealand.

The ter­res­trial hot spring is lo­cated about 30 km (20 mi) south­east of Ro­torua and about 50 km (30 mi) north­east of Taupo.

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