Your guide to autumn in Wellington

A trip to Wellington in autumn means crisp, clear days and nights, incredible events and maybe even a wildlife encounter

V autumn leaves green building

A trip to Wellington in autumn goes beyond just hunting out that perfect fall-toned photo for Instagram. Here’s your guide to enjoying the crisp, clear days that come with autumn in the capital.

While autumn might mean the weather starts cooling down, the skies are often still clear so the days are perfect for exploring. Head over to Martinborough to visit the wineries, go stargazing at Space Place or have a Close Encounter at Wellington Zoo. Autumn's event calendar is jam-packed too, with music, arts and even a cocktail festival. 

walking along waterfront
view of Wellington CBD from Mt Victoria

An autumn stroll 

Get those sensible shoes on and head out to explore. Catch iconic Wellington Cable Car to the top and take a walk through the Wellington Botanic Gardens to see some autumn leaves. For more vigorous exercise, take the 30-minute walk up to the top of Mount Victoria or head to Newtown, a short drive from the city, to meet the animals at Wellington Zoo.

Wildlife encounters

Legend also has it that autumn is the best time of year for some pretty amazing wildlife sightings. We can’t promise anything, but keep your eyes on the water as large groups orcas and dolphins have been known to entertain Wellingtonians in the harbour occasionally. For a better chance of a wildlife sighting, take an expedition to the rugged South Coast, which is home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals. 


These glorious clear autumn days lead to clear nights, so head to Space Place at Carter Observatory and see what you can spot in our southern skies. There are public telescope viewings on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night if weather permits, but it’s worth heading along regardless and exploring the interactive exhibitions and full-dome digital planetarium.

Space Place telescope
eat and drink Palliser estate winery martinborough alcohol grapes vineyard outside vines rows plant fruit growing 1
Highball 2019 Festival 39
Fringe Festival 2020 CCorlett Chalk the Walk 0022

Harvest time

Just over an hour away from Wellington is the charming Martinborough wine village, home to more than 20 boutique vineyards that are so close together you can easily and safely bike or stroll the flat and quiet country roads between them. Autumn is a great time to visit and you might see grapes being harvested for the annual vintage to produce world-class wines. Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival coincides with the annual grape harvest, with food, entertainment, and (obviously) plenty of local vino in an idyllic riverside vineyard setting.

Autumn festivals

For those who come to Wellington for the culture and creativity, autumn is an ideal time for a visit. The season kicks off with Jim Beam Homegrown every March, a huge celebration of New Zealand’s finest local acts that takes over the waterfront with 44 acts across five stages. NZ Fringe Festival also arrives every March, injecting a huge dose of colour, comedy, and spectacle into the capital. The festival sees over 1000 artists filling the city with delightful and unexpected performances in every conceivable venue. Held each May, Highball is a celebration of spirits and cocktails, striking the perfect balance between education and imbibing with a speaker series, bar takeovers, and delicious things to drink.

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