Best time to travel to New Zealand

Lupine in New Zealand

The scenic landscape of New Zealand’s South Island astonishes with varied colors


Every year from mid-November to December vast areas along riverbeds of Mackenzie Region on the South Island burst with color and fragrance. Thousands of lupins cover the landscape with purple, pink, blue, and yellow hues. The Russell lupin is an exotic plant, native to North America, which can grow to the height of 5 ft (1.5 m). These tall colorful spikes can be found in large numbers growing along the roadsides, wide-open areas, and near the waterbeds.

When to see New Zealand lupins?

Generally, lupins could be spotted in New Zealand between spring and summer, but prime lupin season falls between mid-to-late November and late December, fading away just after Christmas. The best bet would be planning your scenic getaway within a short timeframe from late November to mid-December. Also, note that the season differs depending on location, starting earlier in the northern areas, and gradually moving south as December sets in. To make it more clear, Lake Tekapo lupins are at their peak in late November, whereas the best time to absorb lupin bloom around Wanaka is mid-December.

Where to see New Zealand lupin fields?

Some of the most scenic places for viewing lupins are around Lake Tekapo, Lake Wanaka, along the Ahuriri River, and near Twizel. Mount Cook National Park is another great destination for nature enthusiasts. There are many lupin fields along the road that leads to Mount Cook Village. Lake Hawea offers a bit of a variety since it is famous not only for purple and pink varieties but also for yellow lupins, growing along the edge of the lake. The Isthmus Peak Trail offers some of the most breathtaking views of the lake and various wildflowers. Additionally, Crown Range Road connecting Wanaka and Queenstown has tons of yellow ones.

Tips for lupin-spotting in NZ

When roaming Mackenzie Country, you'll be tempted by numerous scenic patches, often alongside the roads. However, stopping in the middle of a narrow and twisty road is not secure. So be patient and choose designed pull-off sights to enjoy the flowers. One of the safest areas to spot lupins is along the Ahuriri River near Omarama. Another advantage of this location is parking and camping options. Or you can opt from a range of hotels tucked amidst lupin fields (see the map below).

Practical info

What is the prime lupin season in New Zealand and when is the best time to visit?

If you want to catch the prime lupin season in New Zealand, you should visit between mid-to-late November and late December. However, depending on the region, the peak season time may differ. Around Lake Tekapo, the best time to view the lupins is late November, whereas some other areas peak in mid-December. So if you plan to visit, make sure you check the lupin season and peak bloom time for the specific place you will be traveling to! Show more

Which locations offer the most scenic views of lupin fields?

When it comes to lupin viewing in New Zealand, there are plenty of stunning places to choose from. Some of the best locations for lupin viewing include Mount Cook National Park, Crown Range Road, Ahuriri River, Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, and Isthmus Peak Trail. Lake Hawea is different from other sites as it offers yellow flowers on the lakeshore. The Isthmus Peak Trail rewards tricky and steep hiking with panoramic views and wildflowers at the summit. Show more

Where is the safe place to spot lupins and park cars?

When viewing lupins in New Zealand, safety is vital, and stopping or parking on the road is not advisable. Instead, pull-off locations intended for parking should be used. One such spot is the Ahuriri River near Omarama, which is characterized by easy parking and camping options. However, you can also book accommodations in fields of lupins to relax while taking in the surrounding beauty of nature. Show more

Which regions in New Zealand start the lupin season earlier?

In New Zealand, as December comes close, the lupin season progresses south, starting earlier in the north, including regions like Nelson and Marlborough, where the first lupins bloom can be seen as early as October. By November, it displays its full beauty, and the season winds down by late December. Therefore, if your lupin viewing experience includes locations in the northern part of South Island, it's best to check out the season's beginning and peak bloom times. Show more

Are there any accommodations available near lupin fields?

New Zealand's lupin fields offer spectacular viewing opportunities, and to enjoy them more intimately, you can reside in lodges and hotels within lupins' proximity. Mackenzie District hotels offer views of these colorful flowers from windows, while the Ahuriri Bridge campsite near Omarama welcomes campers to experience an enriching and adventurous nature-filled camping experience. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin