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7 reasons why fall is the best time of year to visit New Zealand

Deciding on the best time of year to visit New Zealand can be a challenge for the unfamiliar.

The obvious choice is Summer (because who doesn't love a sunny escape when it’s glacial back home?) or Winter (think crisp alpine air and mulled wine fire-side).

But in our opinion, a New Zealand visit in the fall has got just as much going for it.

Lake Hayes, autumn, Queenstown

The mornings have a crisp bite but the days are still warm - and the best news? There's no peak-season crowds to contend with. Here in Wanaka, we love the crackly trees and shades of bronze that mark the beginning of the shoulder season. But if you're still tossing up when to come, read on. Here's seven reasons why a New Zealand fall vacation is a great idea:

The settled weather

Mornings are brisk - but that’s the beauty of it! Not yet teeth-clenchingly cold, the crisp starts are invigorating and quickly meld into calm warm days perfect for exploring the great outdoors.

The leaves

Seemingly obvious, but we really did need to highlight this one. Because when it comes to seasonal colors, New Zealand steps it up a level. Entire hillsides are burnished in brilliant hues of orange, red and gold. If you’re a keen photographer Queenstown’s historic neighbor - Arrowtown - is the best place to be at this time of the year, but really, anywhere with a botanic garden will boast exceptional colors.

You can still swim

Perhaps not in the lakes of the South, but in the North Island, it's definitely still warm enough for an ocean dip. And you’ll need one after all that outdoor exploring!

There’s less people

Yes, we know. It’s not like New Zealand is bursting at the seams. But our main tourist centers double in size over the Winter and Summer months and that can make getting around more time consuming. In Autumn, peak season is over and that means less people to contend with.

Orcas and Dolphins frequent the Wellington Harbor

If you're into wildlife up close, this one's for you. Watch from the waterfront as these amazing mammals pass through on their migratory path.

The renowned Hokitika Wildfoods Festival is on

Enjoy the quirkier side of the kiwi culture and indulge in some ‘interesting’ delicacies including fried huhu grubs and whitebait patties.

Saltwater fishing is at its best

March to May is when large schools of fish come closer to the shore due to the warmer waters. Use light tackle and throw a line from the beach or charter a boat and trawl off the coast. Home to some of the freshest seafood in the world, if you're a keen fisherman, now's the time to come.