Arrowtown in the fall

May 2, 2015

May 1st (or 2nd, as the case is now. Whoops.). It conjures of images of May Day, baby animals, clearing skies, summer vacation, budding flowers …. NOPE. The small percentage of us down here in the Southern Hemisphere are heading speedily towards winter. But for the last week or two, we’ve enjoyed the last warmth of autumn sun and some beautiful fall color. Those of us who spent some time in Otago, enjoyed it even more.

The south part of the south island, Otago, is renowned for it’s fall colors like the east coast of the States. And as Vermont is to the east coast, Arrowtown is to Otago.

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Last weekend we had a biking holiday with friends and stayed in Arrowtown. Though it ended up being to wet to ride specifically in A-town (plans are already in the works for our return), just the colors alone were a good enough reason to be based there. And just like the east coast of the States, people holiday from all over New Zealand in Arrowtown specifically to see the colors. We felt pretty lucky that in our case it was just a coincidence that we went biking during the midst of this color storm.

In search of drier land, we spend a lot of time riding in Alexandra. Being high desert and about an hour southeast of Arrowtown, it saw little of the rain that kept us off our bikes. And not to be left out entirely, Alex put on it’s own unique display of fall color.

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I’m currently riding a borrowed bike (long story) which has been hand painted teal and gold. As it turned out, these colors matched the Roxborough river and the gold colors perfectly, leading to me getting some of the best photos of the trip. No complaints here!

As I’ve mentioned before, Alexandra is challenging rocky terrain where everyone has some “wins and losses” but leaves feeling challenged and excited and rewarded by mountain biking. Below, my friend D’s “win”.

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There’s not much I can do to get this rag tag crew to slow down and look at colors… so photos from our bike rides are pretty far and few between.

Though there is some color in Queenstown, the colors on the way in/out at the Shotover Bridge are much more exceptional. Definitely worth the 10 minute detour.

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On our way home, Scott and I stopped in Cromwell for some riding and wine tasting, then explored the old gold mining area where they used sluicing (water erosion techniques) to destroy the hills in search of gold. It was unexpectedly interesting. Oh, and we were actually out there in search of big MTB jumps Scott had been told about. But we learned some stuff on the way.

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Can you spot the big gap jump in the photo above?

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How about the big drop in the photo above? (Hint, upper right hand corner… think big.)

As we meandered north, we stopped at the mysterious Clay Cliffs near Omarama. We’ve driven past this area for years, wondering what those craggy cliffs were all about. It was neat finally getting out there, and enjoying little specks of yellow even in the barren high country. I’d recommend it to anyone who has time for some exploration, but it’s probably not worth it to those of you on a strict schedule.


No, not stuck. Scott just likes to give me heart attacks.

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The bright colors faded away on our way home, but gave way to the classically dramatic New Zealand blues and greens and grays. No complaints here.

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And with that, my friends, I’m pretty sure it’s winter.

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  • Reply Colleen Zaballos May 3, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    OMG what spectacular colors. We are doing a cruise in October on the East coast, hope it’s somewhat as beautiful.
    Colleen Zaballos

  • Reply Ai April 17, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Wow autumn colour is amazing! Does the colour peak around 21 – 28 April each year?

    • Reply April 18, 2016 at 12:34 am

      It does- Anzac is a great time of year to go!

  • Reply Sheryn April 5, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Hi, your photos look stunning! We’re going to Arrowtown next weekend and we’re looking for places to see the fall colours. May I know where are the places in the first few pictures? Your help would be much appreciated. Thanks!

    • Reply April 12, 2017 at 9:56 am

      So sorry for the late reply! All the photos are just from driving around town and in/out of Queenstown.
      Cheers – hope you had fun!

    Come on, you must want to tell me something!