Throughout the summer season, December – February New Zealand comes alive boasting with fun events. The range of events are diverse and for all age groups, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Below I have highlighted a few of the best and most special events in New Zealand. They are divided into Music Events, Food and Drink Festivals, Sport Events, and Arts and Cultural Events. You can find additional events in New Zealand on the calendar at the bottom of the page.
Rhythm and Alps
- End of December over New Years
Rhythm and Alps is a 3-day international music festival held annually in Wanaka. At the end of December, thousands of people come to the festival to ring in the New Year. There are plenty of camping spots so you are welcome to bring your own tent or campervan. If that’s not your style and you’re willing to spend a little extra for an effortless setup you can also rent teepees, glamping tents and “cardboard tents” provided by the festival. For more information and to buy tickets click here.
Splore is a 3-day Music and Arts festival that takes place annually on the coast of Tapapakanga Regional Park (near Auckland). Splore is also known as New Zealand’s largest dress-up party. Every year there is a theme and festival goers enjoy getting themed-up completely. Other extravagant festival attire is always welcome too! Besides the music and the dress-up party you can also find a lot of art throughout the park. There is also a wellness centre and a talk session on Saturday morning. This festival is child-friendly and you can also camp here. For more information and to buy tickets click here.
WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance)
WOMAD is a 3-day international festival that takes place in more than 25 countries. As the name says it focuses on music, art and dance. It is a very family-friendly festival. This festival is not just for you to enjoy other people perform, you get to join in various workshops. More information about the festival can be found on this website.
Homegrown is a music festival where you will only find local artists. Besides music, there are also markets and children’s attractions. This festival takes place on the waterfront in the heart of Wellington. For more information click here.
Rhythm and Vines
- End of December over New Years
Rhythm and Vines is a 3-day international music festival held annually in Gisborne on New Years Eve. This festival is known as the first festival in the world to usher in the New Year. It is therefore very popular and tickets sell quickly. It is also possible to camp at this festival. New stages are added all the time, such as the Giggle and Vines comedy tent for the best stand-up comedy acts. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Food and Drink Festivals
Taste of Auckland
Taste of Auckland is New Zealand’s leading food and drink festival. Here you will find delicious food and the best wines and cocktails from the prestigious restaurants in Auckland. If you prefer beer over wine and cocktails then you will enjoy the beer tasting offered. There is also opportunity to meet and great famous and admired chefs. If you enjoyed the all the great food and drinks you have tasted throughout the day, head over to the market where you can purchase some to take home. While tasting the food and drinks you can enjoy live music at the harbour. This is an annual event that always takes place in November. For more information and tickets look here.
Visa Wellington On A Plate
- All of augustus
Visa WOAP is different from other events, it is not one specific day nor one location, the whole area is focused on good food around this time. Throughout the month of August there are special events, special menus, pop-up restaurants, exhibitions and even classes from outstanding chefs. Most of this event is free, but some activities require you to buy tickets and they go fast, so be quick. Check their website for more information and to purchase tickets.
This 2-day event in Wellington is a crazy, creative and interactive beer festival. You will find beer cocktails, silent discos, interactive theme bars and many more things. In addition, there is of course a lot of beer, from no less than an astonishing 60 breweries! There is also plenty to eat from the most delicious dishes from the best restaurants in Wellington. This is a must for beer lovers! Look here for more information or to buy tickets.
The Great Kiwi Beer Festival
- The end of January
This beer festival takes place annually in January in Christchurch. In addition to drinking a lot of beer, food tasting and music you can also attend lectures to increase your knowledge about beer. Read more about The Great Kiwi Beer Festival here.
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This mountain bike event is spread over 6 days. In teams of two, the cyclists have to cover an impressive 441km and climb a total of 13,000 meters. Each year a different route is mapped out, but it always goes through beautiful, varied landscapes. A large part of the route is through private land where you wouldn’t be allowed to go otherwise, so it is a unique opportunity. For the route and registrations, check their website.
Winter Games NZ
- South Island
The Winter Games NZ is an international multi-sport event held every two years in the South Island. All Olympic winter sports will be featured including Ice hockey, sledding, ice skating, skiing and curling. The next Winter Games NZ will take place in 2021.
Coast to Coast
- West Coast to Christchurch
Coast to Coast is a special event that allows participants to run, cycle, walk and kayak through the most spectacular parts of the South Island. The route is 243 km long and goes from the West Coast to Christchurch, where there is a fun festival on arrival. If you want to participate, you must ensure to register on time. Most of the route is not accessible to spectators, however there are some nice viewing places along the route. More information can be found on their website.
Queenstown International Marathon
The Queenstown International Marathon takes place in the beautiful Queenstown area. If you want to participate, you can choose a full marathon, half marathon, 10 km or 2.2 km for children. This marathon always sells out quickly, so if you want to be there, don’t wait too long to register. You can register here.
Crankworx is an international mountain bike event that takes place every year in Rotorua, Innsbruck (Switzerland) and Whistler (Canada). The first of the year takes place in Rotorua, around the end of March. All known parts are present, such as the Dual Slalom, slopestyle, downhill and of course the Air DH. They also have Kidsworx, which are special cycling races for children of all ages. This is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area! For more information and ticket sales, click here.
Seeing the All Blacks
- Scattered across New Zealand
- Winter season
New Zealand’s most famous team is the All Blacks rugby team. What could be a better experience than seeing them perform the Haka live before the match? The best time to see them is during the winter months. Check here if they are playing in your area but be quick, tickets always go fast.
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Art and culture events
Dunedin Fringe festival
Dunedin Fringe Festival is an 11-day event held annually in Dunedin. The festival takes place simultaneously with the other Fringe festivals in the world. In addition to theatre performances, the festival also performs dance and music shows. This event not only attracts artists from New Zealand, but also from abroad. There is a mix of well-known and emerging artists. Check out their website for more information.
- Hobbiton (Matamata)
September 22 is Hobbit Day, on this day the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins celebrate their birthday. What better place to celebrate this than on the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata! This day is filled with many activities, such as a lantern tour accompanied by music and there are markets and many eateries. In addition, you will of course see the best spots from the films. Find out more about the Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand.
Dunedin Fashion week
- Mid March
You can also go to New Zealand for fashion events at the annual Dunedin Fashion Week. This event includes exhibitions, runway shows, meet and greets with designers, fashion films, hair and makeup tips, tricks and trends, designer clothes sales and much more. For more information and tickets look here.
Balloons over Waikato
If you’re near Hamilton at the end of March, keep your eyes peeled for hot air balloons from New Zealand’s only hot air balloon festival. Come to the festival to see the largest and most unique hot air balloons you have ever seen! While hot air balloons are exhilarating there is more to this festival. Five days of fun activities for the whole family such as markets, live music, balloon tours, fireworks and much more. Fun for the whole family. Finally, the best news… it’s all free! Look here for more information.
- Anywhere in Nieuw Zeeland
Matariki is the Maori New Year and it is celebrated with small events all over New Zealand. It is not on a fixed date as it depends on the position of the stars, but it is always around June and July. During the Maori New Year, there are various activities, such as Haka performances, art exhibitions, music and dance events, workshops, light shows to name a few. If you’re in New Zealand around this time, I recommend having a look what activities are happening near you, I am sure there’s something to do!
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