September 2017: Reasons to visit New Zealand in spring

Vibrant and uplifting, spring in New Zealand lasts from September to November. New life is everywhere – from lambs playing in the fields, to spring daffodils and fruit trees blossoming.

Bowen Falls, Fiordland
From a practical perspective, travelling in spring represents good value with many operators offering specials on flights, accommodation and activities. 
 
But that’s not the only reason your clients should explore New Zealand before the summer arrives – temperatures are mild, days are getting longer and landscapes are uncrowded. It’s also a busy time in New Zealand’s events calendar, and a great time for wildlife spotting.

GET OUTDOORS 

Spring is definitely the season to admire the beauty of New Zealand’s flora, wild and landscaped, at its very best.

At the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the Hamilton Gardens, you can expect to see magnolias, camellias, annual bedding flowers, rhododendrons, bulbs (such as daffodils), azaleas and the start of the rose season.

Hamilton Gardens offer guided tours through their 21 themed gardens, and in Christchurch Welcome Aboard offer guided Caterpillar Garden Tours (summer operating hours commence on the 1st October).
 
Consider sending your clients to Hobbiton Movie Set; the charming bluebells and Middle‑earth gardens are in full flower.
 
Spring is our ‘waterfall season’ – the country’s falls multiply with magnificent effect. It’s the most impressive time of year to take a cruise on Milford Sound, where your clients can get up close to cascading waters.

SEE WILDLIFE AND FARMLIFE

Whichever island your clients visit, spring is a memorable time to experience New Zealand’s unique wildlife, not to mention the fluffy lambs we are so well known for!

It’s kiwi hatching season and the first chicks emerge any time from mid-September on. Book your clients on a kiwi encounter tour to marvel at how humans help hatch and raise precious chicks of New Zealand’s flightless icon. Your clients can see baby kiwi birds at Otorohanga Kiwi House, Rainbow Springs and West Coast Wildlife Centre.

Penguins gather in their largest numbers between September and February and one of the best penguin spots is Oamaru, where you’ll see both the yellow-eyed penguin and the world’s smallest penguin, the little blue penguin.

Another great place for penguin spotting is on Dunedin’s Otago Peninsula. At Penguin Place, visitors have the opportunity to visit a working conservation programme and to experience undisturbed yellow-eyed penguin activity at close range through a unique system of hides and covered tunnels. 

Little blue penguins can be seen scurrying up to their cliff-face burrows at dusk at Pilots Beach on the Otago Peninsula, where tours run daily. And right next tour, at the world’s only mainland breeding albatross colony (The Royal Albatross Centre), it’s possible for visitors to see these majestic seabirds with a wingspan of more than three metres soaring overhead.  Visit between September and November to see the breeding birds arriving at the headland and building nests, and the previous year’s chicks flying the nest.

For a more hands-on experience, your clients might want to do a farm tour, where they can feed and pet spring lambs and other farm animals. Check out this list of farm stays

GET A TASTE OF NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand's wine and food is amongst the best in the world. A great way for your clients to sample our fresh produce and innovative dishes (whilst mingling with the locals), is to visit one of our exciting annual spring food and wine festivals. 

Whitianga Scallop Festival - The Coromandel
16 September, 2017
Fresh tasty seafood is synonymous with New Zealand and fresh tasty scallops are synonymous with the Coromandel Peninsula. The Whitianga Scallop Festival is an annual sell-out. While scallops may be the star attraction, visitors also treat themselves to a selection of other foods, wines and beers, art and crafts. 
www.scallopfestival.nz 

Kaikoura Seafest - Kaikoura 
7 October, 2017
With rich marine history, thrilling wildlife and Māori heritage, the Kaikoura Seafest is the place to experience the best of this coastal region. Kaikoura, on the eastern South Island, is New Zealand’s premier whale-watching destination. All the action is on land during Seafest and seafood in all forms takes centre stage.
www.seafest.co.nz 

Taranaki Garden Spectacular – New Plymouth
27 October – 5 November, 2017
The Taranaki Garden Spectacular is one of New Zealand’s longest running festivals. 2017 will mark the 30th year of the popular spring garden festival. Of the 45 gardens, 40 are private gardens open exclusively for the duration of the festival. 
www.gardenfestnz.co.nz 

FAWC! Food and Wine Classic – Hawke's Bay
3 – 12 November, 2017
FAWC - Food and Wine Classic - is a series of one-off, out-of-the-box food and wine events set in lovely locations throughout Hawke’s Bay. The Hawke’s Bay region is one of New Zealand’s top grape-growing regions, known for producing a range of varieties but best known for Bordeaux-blend reds and Chardonnay.
www.fawc.co.nz

Toast Martinborough - Wairarapa
19 November, 2017
In lovely Martinborough – a village surrounded by boutique vineyards - ‘Toast’ is a celebration of all this bountiful region has to offer in food, wine and entertainment. Visitors can walk or catch free shuttle buses that travel the route, and the event offers festival-goers a unique opportunity to taste wines from both current and past vintages. 
www.toastmartinborough.co.nz
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