Open all seasons
Central Otago is one of the few places in New Zealand with four truly distinct seasons. The Trail is open all year round, so you can pick your favourite season for your trip – or return as many times as you like to experience the changing drama that unfolds during the year.
SUMMER – warm days, blue skies
Most people plan their trip for summer when days are warm, dry and sunny. It’s a good idea to bike earlier in the day to avoid the heat of the afternoon sun, which then leaves you with more time to relax with friends and explore further afield. Daylight hours are also very long (you are in 45° South country) with balmy twilight evenings. Wildflowers are in full bloom beside the trail and spreading along the river flats.
AUTUMN – the golden heartland
This is a popular time to be in Central. While winds can sometimes be gusty in summer, autumn days are often calm, clear and still pleasantly warm. Nights become frosty, which is the first hint of change to the trees. The landscape blazes with their vibrant red and gold leaves – don’t forget to bring your camera.
WINTER – the most spectacular scenery
This season may frighten people off – but snow-capped mountains on the horizon against a blue sky, the early morning sparkle of frost on the grass, these are unforgettable sights. Days are short, but often clear, and overnight frosts can be severe – so early starts or late finishes are not recommended – water bottles have been known to freeze! It is a good idea to check the weather forecasts each day for southerly fronts, as an occasional dump of snow can quickly turn the landscape into a winter wonderland. A cosy evening with friends around a roaring log fire with a glass of pinot is another “Deep South” memory to take home. But services such as accommodation may be more limited, so plan first.
SPRING – a fresh landscape
Again, the colour palette of the landscape has changed. Now you are treated to the sight of fresh spring-green leaves on the trees, lambs frolicking in the green paddocks, mountains still snow-capped – or the soft colours of fruit tree blossom and the hillsides of wild purple thyme around Alexandra. The days are getting warmer, and weather can be changeable – but it’s not as wet as the coast.