there’s something sweetly melancholy about the last days of summer when it’s still warm enough for swims and eating outdoors, but the chill in the early mornings and late evenings signals the frigid days that lie ahead.

With the timeline for travel bubbles still uncertain, it’s probably best not to bet on escaping to warmer climes this autumn – but fortunately New Zealand does the season particularly well.

With foliage that drew travellers from across the world pre-pandemic and some standout festivals on the horizon, there’s a lot to look forward to over the next few months. Particularly in some of our small towns. If you think you’ll be able to escape for a couple of days or more, why not start planning a trip as you enjoy the last of the summer wine? Here are just a few suggestions.


Central Otago’s a spectacular place to be in autumn when deciduous trees in fall finery check their reflections in lakes made mirror-clear by crisp, cloudless mornings and old gold rush towns literally turn to gold.

With historic buildings reminiscent of a wild west film set, Clyde is among the most photogenic. Set on the banks of the bright blue Clutha River and surrounded by hills of gold-bearing schist, the town’s a stunner year-round, but its unique microclimate makes it particularly pleasant in autumn, when (typically) warm, sunny days are perfectly suited to tackling its walks and mountain bike tracks – or whiling away an afternoon at an outdoor table in one of its many quality cafes.

Take a stroll past its well-preserved turn-of-the-20th-century buildings – the stone cottages and hotel are standouts – before sitting down to a long lunch.

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