Best time and places for spring blossoms

Learn where and when you can go for spring blossoms on the South Island of New Zealand.

Technically speaking, spring in New Zealand runs from the first of September until the end of November.

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However, you can generally start seeing signs of spring after the first week of August, which is technically speaking still winter.

While I’m still in the process of refining dates and locations to see spring blossoms, just like I did when I was researching the best time and places for autumn colors on the South Island, I’ll list my findings now, here on this page, and continue updating this page as I visit more and more South Island locations to find the best places and time to see spring blossoms.

Best time to see spring blossoms on the South Island

The Christchurch Botanic Gardens Walking Guide [PDF] lists blossoms as appearing during the whole month of September.

It is said that blossoms tend to come out pretty much the same time every year despite weather fluctuations. So unlike fall foliage, blossoms do not depend on the weather in previous months or the previous year.

In my own experience, October is generally late to see spring blossoms. You can see other flowers blooming but won’t see many of the cherry blossoms around.

The last two times I visited Christchurch to see spring blossoms, I was either too late or almost late. The first visit was on October 6 and the second visit was on September 23.

The magnolias, rhododendrons, and azaleas were out and blooming in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, but when I arrived on October 6, almost all of the blossoms had already fallen off the trees.

However, I was still able to catch spring blossoms in Ashburton and further down south in Arrowtown, Queenstown, and Alexandra.

Magnolias in Christchurch Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

Magnolias in Christchurch Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

So while early October was late to see spring blossoms, it was defnitely not too late.

The second time I visited Christchurch on September 23, I was able to catch cherry blossoms on trees, but it was obvious that the trees were past their peak.

So I hereby conclude that September is the best month to catch cherry blossoms and that the peak blooming period falls roughly between September 7 and 21 so somewhere in the second or third week of September.

This period is corroborated by the fact that the Alexandra Blossom Festival is held every year during the last week of September when they can be sure that spring has sprung.

If I had to pick one date to see spring blossoms on the South Island of New Zealand, it would probably be September 18.

Where to see spring blossoms on the South Island

I’ve listed the places where you can see spring blossoms on the South Island from north to south.

Because I have noticed that flowers tend to bloom later the more south you go, it is best to start your spring blossom tour – if you can call it that – in Christchurch and end it in Alexandra or go further down south to Invercargill if you wish.

1. Christchurch Botanic Gardens & Hagley Park

Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park are located in the center of Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand.

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You can get to Christchurch by flying to Christchurch airport and then driving to the gardens or by catching a bus to Christchurch city centre and then walking to the gardens.

Cherry blossoms can be found on several places in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens as well as on trees lining Harper Avenue running north of Hagley Park in the center of Christchurch.

Entry to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens is free, and Hagley Park is just a huge open park that is accessible from all sides.

2. Ashburton Domain & Gardens

Ashburton is about one hour south of Christchurch (click here to find driving distances to several places on the South Island). The Ashburton Domain & Gardens is located alongside the main highway that goes through Ashburton.

Just look for the garden on the right side of the road when coming from Christchurch and soon after you pass the first roundabout.

Ashburton Domain & Gardens is well maintained and the flowers smell very nice in spring.

It has a good amount of spring blossoms – the kind of blossoms that can be seen in clusters of pink flowers hanging from tree branches.

If you ever decide to plan a trip to see spring blossoms on the South Island of New Zealand, I highly recommend paying a visit to Ashburton and in particular its garden.

Blossoms cluster in Ashburton Domain and Gardens on the South Island of New Zealand

Blossoms cluster in Ashburton Domain and Gardens

You will not only see blossoms in the garden but also along the streets in town and in people’s yards.

Entry to the garden is free.

3. Oamaru Public Gardens

Oamaru is located approximately 2 hours south of Ashburton. The Oamaru Public Gardens were officially opened in 1876 and are one of the oldest in the country.

The Oamaru Public Gardens has a variety of interesting features such as bridges and waterways in addition to flowers.

While I have never personally visited the Oamaru Public Gardens, I’ve seen images that were taken in spring and must say that the garden looks like a lovely place to stroll around to see flowers.

Needless to say, I have put this spring location on my bucket list.

4. Alexandra

Alexandra is 452 km (281 mi) from Christchurch by road. It should take you around 5.5 hours to drive to Alexandra from Christchurch.

As you enter Alexandra on the main street through it, you should already start to see blossoms on trees alongside the road and in people’s yards.

Blossom tree in spring in Alexandra on the South Island of New Zealand

Blossom tree in spring in Alexandra on the South Island

Continue driving through Alexandra, and then at the roundabout, go right and cross the bridge.

Just after crossing the bridge, go right on the backroad – Earnscleugh Road – back to Clyde. You should be able to see fruit trees in bloom when driving on this road.

The fruit trees in Central Otago display mainly pink and white blossoms. One thing to note is that the mature fruit trees – the ones that have been standing a couple of years already and that have thicker trunks and branches – produce more blossoms than the younger trees.

But all in all, if you look at the fruit trees collectively, they can be pretty impressive. You should also be able to find fruit trees in bloom around Cromwell.

5. More places with spring blossoms on the South Island

Two towns en route from Christchurch to Queenstown may have a good few blossoms on trees in spring: Geraldine and Omarama.

Fairlie, while good to visit in autumn, does not have as many spring blossoms, except for some in people’s yards.

There is one street in particular in Arrowtown – Devon Street – that has a row of trees that display beautiful light pink blossoms in spring.

Other than that, many yards of people may have colorful flowers and also blossoms on trees.

Cherry blossom tree in Christchurch Botanic Gardens in New Zealand

Cherry blossom tree in Christchurch Botanic Gardens

While not plentiful, spring blossoms can also be found in the Queenstown Gardens in Queenstown.

In addition, you may see a few flowers such as azaleas and tulips here and there in bloom.

Queenstown Gardens is a well-maintained garden and there is a nice small fountain in the middle of a pond where you can sit down and relax.

Wanaka does not have many spring blossoms other than the occasional tree in bloom in people’s yards. Wanaka is best visited during autumn for fall foliage in New Zealand.

Final words on where to find spring blossoms

This article is still very much a work in progress and will be updated as I gather more information.

 

Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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