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5 Winter Festivals in New Zealand

Queenstown Winter Festival

Winter is coming and so are some of the best parties of the year.

What better way to warm yourself up than pulling some shapes at a music festival and eating obscene amounts of chocolate? That is how New Zealand celebrates the winter season. Skiers and snowboarders come from all over the world to hit the slopes for ‘summer skiing’, so going to a festival or two makes a really cool apres ski session. So with all that in mind, here are some of the best winter festivals in New Zealand.

Check out where else you should head for winter in our article: 5 Places to Visit in Winter in New Zealand.

New Zealand's Biggest Gap Year on YouTube

1. Matariki

This nationwide event celebrates the Maori New Year, which is indicated by the Matariki star cluster visible in the night sky. Most cities have performances, kite flying, workshops and exhibitions of Maori art. In Auckland, there are Haka competitions, pop-up hakas and Maori story performances. For more information, check out What is Matariki – The Maori New Year

When? Matariki usually beings around the end of May to the end of June.
Tourism NZ

2. Queenstown Winter Festival

Winter starts with the Queenstown Winter Festival’s huge fireworks display. The 10-day event is full of fun/daft competitions, such as the dog derby, dog barking, dodgeball, iHeart Radio Day on the Bay and 70’s disco workout. There’s live music and comedy acts to enjoy in the evening. Make sure to book accommodation in advance for this busy festival. Check out the 5 Best Hostels in Queenstown.

When? Mid June
Queenstown Winter Festival

3. Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival

Start storing the winter fat by eating heaps of chocolate! Dunedin is the home of Cadbury World, where you can take tours, learn about chocolate making, and eat chocolate (duh!). Festival highlights are: chocolate decorating, painting and facials. The biggest event is the Jaffa race down the world’s steepest residential street: Baldwin Street.

When? Mid July
BackpackerGuide.NZ

4. Whitianga Scallop Festival

Ok, so technically the Whitianga Scallop Festival isn’t in winter… But it’s pretty close. The festival in the Coromandel area celebrates the start of the scallop season with around 60 food and wine stalls, cooking demonstrations and scallop shucking competitions. Don’t know what shucking is? Go to the festival to find out.

Location: September
MaxPixel

5. Nelson Winter Festival

Weird how a music festival must-see is the poetry slam: a comedy poetry competition. The Nelson Winter Festival is a celebration of New Zealand’s popular music.

When? Mid July
Tourism NZ

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