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Where to Find Lupins in New Zealand


Where to photograph those luscious lupins in new Zealand!

During the Southern Hemisphere’s summertime you see swarms of colourful photos coming out of New Zealand: vast fields of purple, riversides of blues and pinks and even yellows! No doubt, these photos will be of New Zealand’s lupins. Yes, we all go a bit nuts for the beautiful displays of lupins in New Zealand and admittedly, we all want a photo of those lupins! However, lupins are not everywhere in New Zealand. In fact, these introduced plant species are not even meant to be in New Zealand. So where exactly can you find lupins in New Zealand?

The first thing you need to know is at what time of the year you can see lupins. The next is that you can only really find lupins in a few selected places around the country. This quick guide will go through some various lupin locations throughout New Zealand, as well as telling you a few facts about these flowers that so many of us are obsessed about.

New Zealand lupins in a nutshell

Before we get started, here are four quick facts about the lupins in New Zealand.

  • Lupins are mostly found in the Mackenzie region of New Zealand
  • They bloom between November and February
  • They were first introduced to New Zealand to make the countryside colourful
  • Lupins are considered a pest plant species in New Zealand
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Lupins in New Zealand and why they are considered a pest

Lupins, or Lupine, originally come from the Mediterranean region and the Andean Mountains. Lupins were first introduced to the Mackenzie district of New Zealand in the 1950s by local farming families. While some stories suggest that lupins were introduced in New Zealand to improve the feeding conditions for merino sheep, other stories simply say that a farmer’s wife secretly planted lupin seeds along the roadsides to, well, “liven up the place”.

Why are lupins a weed in New Zealand?

Nowadays, merino farmers have reportedly seen the value of cultivating lupins, especially the Russel lupin which is the most common type seen in New Zealand. However, over the years, lupins have spread to many of the Mackenzie region’s waterways and rivers which has become a problem for the natural environment.

The Department of Conservation has said that Russel lupins negatively impact the “habitat of threatened braided riverbed birds such as wrybill/ngutu parore, black stilt/kakī and banded dotterel/tūturiwhatu.” The dense stands of lupins in braided river beds are also said to “stabilise gravels, forming fast-flowing river channels that are unsuitable for wading birds to feed in.”

All in all, lupins are the loveliest-looking weed in New Zealand.


Where to find lupins in New Zealand

As already mentioned, the Mackenzie region is where you will find the most abundance of lupins in New Zealand. The South Island region encapsulates the areas of Twizel, Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mt Cook. However, there are still only selected areas where you can find lupins.

Mackenzie Country

Lake Tekapo is the most famous location for finding lupins in New Zealand. Find them in most areas of the lakefront in front of the Lake Tekapo township, such as at the Church of the Good Shepherd and near the the hot pools and holiday park.

There are also random stands alongside State Highway 8 between Twizel and Fairlie, especially on the Burkes Pass. This being said, remember to find a safe place to park up before jumping out the car for photos.

Dense stands of lupins are along the Ahuriri River from the Lindis Pass to Omarama, especially near the Clay Cliffs.

Finally, look out around Lake Pukaki and Lake Dunstan.

Lake Wanaka

Moving away from the Mackenzie region, there are patches of lupins that grow along the foreshore of Lake Wanaka, which you can see along the lakefront walks. Check out 10 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Wanaka for more information about the walks.

The Crown Range Road between Wanaka and Queenstown also has stands of yellow lupins. Again, find a safe place to park up.


A random find from the BackpackerGuide.NZ team has been yellow lupins at the base of Mt Hutt in the Awa Awa Rata Reserve on the Pudding Hill Stream walk. More information can be found in Canterbury – Guide for Backpackers.

Lake Taupo

On the North Island, the best-known location for yellow lupins are on the shores of Lake Taupo. Your best chance to see them in on one of the 10 Wonderful Walks Around Lake Taupo.


the best time of the year to see lupins in New Zealand

Lupins start to noticeably bloom from late November. However, the best time of the year to see lupins is during December and January to see meadows in full bloom. Lupins tend to stay in bloom until late February – the end of the summer season in New Zealand.

Visit any of the New Zealand location outside of these times of the year, you’re not going to have much luck seeing the flowering lupins.

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