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Destination Guide - New Zealand

New Zealand: What’s on When

January

Challenge Wanaka Triathlon
Every January, for a week, Challenge Wanaka attracts thousands of competitors and spectators to the shores of Lake Wanaka. Competitors swim through the pristine waters of the lake, cycle past alpine lakes, and run along the water’s edge. After all competitors eventually cross the finish line, a firework and music evening takes off.

February

Te Matatini
The world’s largest celebration of Maori culture and traditions takes place every two years in February. Elite Maori performance groups from different tribes, compete against each other, just as they have done for centuries. Families come together to witness the precision and skills demonstrated by the Maori performers, and to cheer on their favourite competitors in this unique event.

March

New Zealand International Arts Festival
Over 24 days in March, the capital of Wellington comes alive with music, theatre, art, dance and literature. More than 900 artists come to the city to showcase their talents to spectators from across the world. There is sure to be something to entertain all visitors.

April

Balloons over Waikato Festival
In the Hamilton and Waikato region the skies are filled with the glow of burners from hot air balloons every April. 30-35 balloons take-off early in the morning, and on Saturday evening the spectacular Saturday Nightglow welcomes live music, fireworks displays, and the balloons lighting up the dark skies.

May

Akaroa Harvest Festival
New Zealand is world renowned for its boutique wines, award-winning speciality foods and locally reared lamb. To showcase these local specialities the Akaroa Area, on the coast outside of Christchurch, hosts a festival every May. Stalls sell all manner of New Zealand produce, ranging from honey to olive oil; much of which is only available locally.

June

Queenstown Winter Festival
The 10 day celebration of culture and community on the snowy slopes, and town centre, has been voted one of ten must-see festivals in the world. Mountain races, fireworks displays, local acts, jazz and comedy events, combined with a Mardi Gras atmosphere, make this event a must-do whilst in New Zealand.

July

Puaka Matariki Festival
This event, which is unique to the city of Dunedin, celebrates the start of the Maori New Year, when a constellation of stars rise in the skies. Local Maori residents and elders tell stories and poetry, traditional music is performed, and lantern parades are held. This is a unique and interesting event to experience.

August

Wellington Lux Light Festival
In the last week of August, the city of Wellington lights up with the bright glow of the many light installations that pop-up across the city. Modern light technology displays, and their creators, line the city’s streets, galleries and cafes.

September

Whitianga Scallop Festival
Along Whitianga Harbour on the Coromandel, live entertainment by Kiwi artists, 60 large food stalls offering locally sourced scallops, and other fresh seafood is sold. Award-winning chefs from across the globe cook and present local scallops in all manner of ways, delighting and wowing their audiences.

October

Kaikoura Seafest
To celebrate the bounties of both sea and land, and the prosperity that nature has brought to New Zealand, the town of Kaikoura comes alive under one giant marquee. Locals dress in sea-themed costumes, while local foods and wines are served, and events showcasing sight, sound and taste are held. This event has been a staple of the Kaikoura calendar since 1995.

November

Waiuku Christmas Display
The town of Waiuku, near Auckland, doesn’t take the Christmas period lightly. The whole town turns into a Christmas winter wonderland, despite November being mid-Summer in New Zealand. Christmas tree lights twinkle in the dark skies, snow caves come to life with seasonal characters, and the Mr Christmas Coco Cola train visits the town. Who says Christmas can’t come early?

December

Rhythm and Alps
Every December, in the Cardrona Valley on New Zealand’s South Island, a world-famous 2-day music festival brings rock, pop, jazz and folk to the hills of Central Otago province. Tickets for the concerts must be booked in advance, but many people just go to the event to camp out with friends and family, and to enjoy the festival atmosphere.