THE BEST NEW ZEALAND LUPIN LOCATIONS GUIDE 2021
Every year from November through December there are a few special locations in the New Zealand landscape that become transformed into colourful wonderlands of pink, blue, purple, yellow, orange and well ... every colour of the rainbow! This is result of the flowering Russell Lupin perennials that were introduced to New Zealand in the 1940s.
Tourists and photographers alike flock to New Zealand every Spring to photograph this stunning scenic feat where the New Zealand lupins change the landscape colour palette entirely. What is normally quite a dry and baron area of the country is suddenly turned into a beautiful backdrop carefully painted by nature.
Before we get into the best New Zealand Lupin locations to visit, here is a little history on this pretty little flower that people love so much, but that are causing major environmental problems for native New Zealand.
WHAT IS A LUPIN FLOWER?
The Russell Lupin is a variant of Lupin perennial that has original origins from the Americas but was created by British gardener George Russell through experimentation with natural pollination of bumble bees. The Russell lupin has a large range of colours as seen throughout the New Zealand landscape in Spring.
HOW DID LUPINS END UP IN NEW ZEALAND & WHAT IS THEIR IMPACT?
Russell lupins were brought to New Zealand in the 1940s and used as sheep feed on high country farms in the Mackenzie Basin. From a horticultural point of view they are great for farmers with livestock as they provide nutritious feed that needs little fertilizing.
However, from an environmental point of view, they are disastrous to the New Zealand eco system and native species. The invasive nature of the lupin flower means that they have spread into river beds and are having a detrimental impact on native wading bird species such as the black stilt, dotterel and wrybill.
Lupin seeds can last for decades so the effort to control them is a never ending one once they enter the riverbeds and bird habitat. There is a clear effort by Department of Conversation staff and other government organisations to kill these 'weeds' in vulnerable habitats, and although they have been huge for tourism in many areas, controlled spraying is becoming more common and will most likely continue until the lupin population is somewhat controlled.
I do believe they will keep them untouched in places solely for tourism, so you will still be able to get your New Zealand lupin photograph with these stunning but invasive flowers. They grow freely on many roadsides and fields from the Mackenzie Basin to Milford Sound so there are still a lot to be found!
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT FOR NEW ZEALAND LUPINS?
The New Zealand lupin flowers begin to bloom their best from early November each year and their sweet candy scented smell lasts all the way until late December. The best time to see them during this time? Well .. nature has a way of keeping us on our toes and it changes every year, but for the past 5 seasons I have visited during mid to late November and I seem to have timed it perfectly.
WHERE CAN I FIND NEW ZEALAND LUPINS?
You can find New Zealand lupins in a lot of places throughout the country, however the Russell Lupins are mostly found in the Mackenzie Basin area of the South Island. Having said that, you can also find lupins scattered along the side of the road and in empty paddocks throughout Aoraki Mount Cook, the Lindis Pass, Twizel, Queenstown, Glenorchy, and Milford Sound to name a few spots.
For the most popular New Zealand lupin spots and where you will usually find them in good numbers, check out the list below!
LAKE TEKAPO LUPIN LOCATIONS
The town of Lake Tekapo is probably the most famous area for New Zealand lupin photographs. The lupins bring a huge amount of tourism to the area and there are always locations to take photos with the flowers.
AORAKI MOUNT COOK LUPIN LOCATIONS
Usually scattered along the side of the road, you can find small pockets of New Zealand lupins in the Mount Cook area. If you keep your eyes open while travelling down to Mount Cook Village you might be able to find a beautiful Mount Cook lupin photo with Aoraki in the background!
TWIZEL LUPIN LOCATIONS
The Pukaki Canals are a great spot for New Zealand lupins with the rich blue glacial waters and the Ben Ohau range making picture perfect New Zealand scenery.
OMARAMA AND AHURIRI LUPIN LOCATIONS
Carrying on through Twizel on your way to the Lindis Pass (which usually has roadside lupin flowers also) you will arrive at Omarama and the Ahuriri River. The Omarama Clay Cliffs are an amazing New Zealand landscape photo opportunity just on their own, but with lupins the scene is truly stunning with a wash of vibrant colours.
The Ahuriri River flows right through this area and in past years has had abundant lupins along the shores of the river and through the river beds. Things change every year but you will be able to spot the lupins from the road and there are safe reserves and pull overs available to get to river foreshore.
GLENORCHY LUPIN LOCATIONS
Just 45 minutes drive from Queenstown you will find the stunning small settlement of Glenorchy nestled amongst the mountains and Lake Wakatipu. During Spring the New Zealand lupins have made their way to this beautiful spot and you can usually find them by the lake near the famous Glenorchy Pier and surrounding areas.
I hope this blog on the Best Spots for New Zealand Lupins has inspired you to come and visit and take your own amazing lupin photos with an incredible New Zealand landscape backdrop.
These are my personal favourite locations and photos that I have spent the last 5 years exploring the South Island of New Zealand during spring time. Have a great time exploring these spots like I have !
If you are interested in prints of any of the New Zealand Landscape Photography seen in this blog, please feel free to head on over to my New Zealand Photo Print Store and have a little look around.