Hot on Backpacker Guide
What’s happening in New Zealand? Well, you have come to the right place. New Zealand looks forward to many events each year, whether it’s to party to live music or to celebrate how much they love food. So, expect to be well-fed at many New Zealand festivals.
Backpackers, especially, will enjoy some of the free events happening regularly in the bigger cities. After all, a buzzing atmosphere is priceless. Otherwise, some highly anticipated music festivals or workshops could be something to save the cents for. What’s more, those on a working holiday visa have the opportunity to volunteer at New Zealand festivals.
On a budget? Check out some of these free festivals and events.
Wellington Summer City
Starting from the new year, Wellington hosts more than 90 free events around the city over three months, including frequent live music in the Botanic Gardens. Find out more.
World Buskers Festival
Head to Hagley Park, Christchurch for music performed by buskers from all over the world. Find out more.
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
An alternative music festival in the alternative setting of Silo Park, Auckland. Find out more.
Auckland Seafood Festival
Taste the finest the sea has to offer on Halsey Wharf, Wynyard Quarter. Seafood stalls, musical acts, cooking demonstrations and competitions all take place on this three-day festival. Find out more.
Plan your trip in January: New Zealand in January.
Auckland Pride Festival
The list of events of this festival celebrating the LBGT community is extensive: theatre, cabaret, debates, drag, burlesque, sports, parties… and the list goes on throughout the majority of February. Find out more.
Auckland Lantern Festival
Chinese culture is showcased in this three-day festival with stage performances of martial arts, dance, music, and concludes with the Sky Tower fireworks. Find out more.
Art Deco Weekend
Vintage buffs will love this event celebrating the 1920s and 1930s in the “Art Deco Capital”, Napier. Find out more.
Kawhia Kai Festival
Get your cultural and food fix in the Maori food festival hosted for one day in the coastal town of Kawhia. Find out more.
Te Matatini Festival
Immerse yourself in the Maori culture and watch some top kapa haka groups compete. Find out more.
Plan your trip in February: New Zealand in February
For more summer festivals, check out 5 Summer Festivals in New Zealand.
A festival where no huhu grub is safe. Eat some of the weirdest foods at the Hokitika one-day event. Find out more.
Balloons Over Waikato
Your camera will love you for capturing this amazing display of hot air balloons, both classic and novelty, flying over Hamilton over the five days. Find out more.
The street festival on Cuba Street, Wellington, gives the public the chance to get dressed up and dance. Stick around for flash mops and street theatre. Find out more.
Pasifika Festival Auckland
11 Pacific island nations are celebrated in this two-day event. Browse stalls, eat well, and be entertained through traditional and contemporary arts. Find out more.
Auckland Arts Festival
Auckland experiences an explosion of the arts to praise cultural diversity. International dance, theatre, music and more can be seen over the 19 days. Find out more.
Taihape is the “Gumboot Capital of the World” so celebrate by throwing a gumboot, or taking part in other novelty competitions. Find out more.
Plan your trip in March: New Zealand in March
NZ International Comedy Festival
Like laughs? Prepare for a lot of them between April and May with heaps of stand-up. Most of the action is in Wellington and Auckland, but some comedians will tour across the country. Find out more.
Plan your trip in April: New Zealand in April
Auckland Writers Festival
Readings, debates, stand-up poetry and literary theatre! For five days in May, Auckland celebrates the world’s best form of communication. Find out more.
Book yourself into one or several creative workshops across Wellington to learn something new over the weekend! Find out more.
Plan your trip in May: New Zealand in May
Queenstown Winter Festival
The start of winter is a magical and manic time in Queenstown. Expect 10 days of mountain races, street parties, fireworks, jazz, comedy and competitions. Find out more.
Mt Ruapehu Mountain Mardi Gras [Update: cancelled for the foreseeable future].
Get pumped for the start of the winter season in Ohakune, the North Island’s apres ski area with fireworks and live music. Find out more.
Plan your trip in June: New Zealand in June
Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival
One week of chocolate – it doesn’t get much better than that… The highlight of the festival is the Jaffa Race down the world’s steepest street. Find out more.
New Zealand International Film Festival
The season of film from both NZ and international filmmakers is between July and September. All over New Zealand, you can see something different from your everyday blockbuster! Find out more.
Plan your trip in July: New Zealand in July
For more winter festivals, check out 5 Winter Festivals in New Zealand.
Wellington on a Plate
The capital city hosts New Zealand’s largest food and beverage event! Find out more.
Plan your trip in August: New Zealand in August.
World of Wearable Art (WOW) Award Show
The most creative and crazy fashion show you’ll ever see. See the catwalks in Wellington from September to October. Find out more.
Learn how to dance from the masters or simply sit-back and enjoy dance performances from mid-September to mid-October in Christchurch. Find out more.
Plan your trip in September: New Zealand in September.
As the days start to get warmer, relax in the mountainous Southern Lakes region with gigs, movies, costume, food and drink! And if it wasn’t obvious from the name, this festival is in Wanaka. Find out more.
Celebrate the sea and everything that comes from it! Expect good food, live music and daft costumes. Find out more.
Plan your trip in October: New Zealand in October
NZ Tattoo and Art Festival
If you are fascinated by body art, then this festival in New Plymouth is for you. Entertainment includes burlesque and live music. Find out more.
Wellington Sky Show
Guy Fawkes Night evokes fireworks displays across the country, but Wellington is the place to be for a carnival atmosphere. Find out more.
Plan your trip in November: New Zealand in November.
All summer long, on either Fridays or Saturdays, you can enjoy a movie in this free open air event at Silo Park, Auckland. Find out more.
Rhythm and Vines
The New Year reaches the city of Gisborne before any other city in the world. Party with the large festival atmosphere. Find out more.
Rhythm and Alps
Celebrate the New Year in the beautiful alpine setting of the Cardrona Valley, while enjoying world-class music acts. Find out more.
Festival of Lights
New Plymouth hosts this festival extending into January with the illuminated decorations of Pukekura Park, live gigs, and outdoor movies at the Boat Shed Lawn. Find out more.
Plan your trip in December: New Zealand in December
For more New Year’s Festivals, check out 10 NYE Events in New Zealand You Can’t Miss!
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