Sing, EAT, Race, Dance, DRINK, AND SPECTATE YOUR WAY THROUGH 2017.
New Zealand knows how to host a good get-together. There’s no better way to experience feeling part of a Kiwi community than getting stuck into a New Zealand festival, sporting event or town gathering. New Zealanders will find any excuse to celebrate, whether it’s for summer, for eating grasshoppers, or dressing up like their from the Victorian era. Whatever the occasion, you’ll want to attend at least one of New Zealand’s Top Events in 2017.
There’s a variety of annual events worth taking part in, which we have listed month-by-month on our New Zealand calendar. But what are our top picks for 2017? We know you can’t do all the events during your gap year in New Zealand, but here are a few to start with.
5 MAORI EVENTS for your culture dose in 2017
Celebrate the cultures of the South Pacific and New Zealand with these cultural events. Be captivated by the Haka, entertained with song and dance, and filled with wonderful food!
Pasifika Festival in Waitangi Park, Wellington (January 23)
Kawhia Kai Festival in Kawhia Foreshore, Hamilton (February 4)
International Kai Festival in Founders Heritage Park, Nelson (February 6)
Pasifika Festival in Western Springs, Auckland (March 25-26)
Matariki / Maori New Year, Nationwide (June 25)
Top Summer Festivals in New Zealand
Rock into 2017 or leave 2017 with a bang (or both!). Rhythm and Vines (29-31 December in Waiohika Estate, Gisborne) or Rhythm and Alps (30-31 December in Cardrona Valley, Wanaka) are New Zealand’s most famous annual NYE celebrations. Take your pick on two amazing settings, either in the first city in the world to see the sunrise on the New Year or in the mountainous Cardrona Valley. For more New Year’s Eve ideas, check out Where to Spend New Year’s Eve in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s most famous little surf town hosts its own summer festival, Soundsplash (20-22 January in the Wainui Reserve, Raglan) has more than 40 music acts performing across three stages. By being only 500m away from Ngarunui Beach, you can always run out for a surf too!
A festival situated high on Takaka Hill, Luminate Festival (1-8 February in Canaan Downs, Golden Bay) is an alternative festival with a message. Learn how to live life more sustainably with workshops, while enjoying live music, joining in with drumming around the fire, and enjoying nature.
Splore (February 17-19 in Tapapakanga Park, Auckland) is a beach music festival in the beautiful location of Tapapakanga Park. Enjoy an extensive line-up of musical acts and cultural performers.
Free events in New Zealand
New Zealand’s cities have a lot of parks, which obviously need filling with events and “happening” things. Here are just some of them…
Auckland’s Music in Parks and Movies in Parks brings a bunch of free gigs and pop-up cinemas across the region’s parks. Check out events like Rock the Park (February 11, Grey Lynn Park). There’s also George in the Park, for electric, dub and pop acts (March 18, Coyle Park, Pt Chevalier), as well as 24 other gigs to choose from throughout January to March. Then wind down with 22 movies playing across Auckland’s parks showing blockbusters from last year’s releases to timeless classics. Don’t forget, Silo Cinema also takes place in Silo Park every Friday during summer.
Balloons Over Waikato (22-26 March in Innes Common, Hamilton) is an acclaimed annual event here in New Zealand. See a sky full of hot air balloons, from traditional to the weird and wonderful.
Christchurch’s World Buskers Festival (19-29 January, all over Christchurch city) is a mix of free and paid events throughout the city. Watch a variety of acts from music to burlesque to comedy. Most free performances can be found in the Market Square and the Bridge of Remembrance.
Wellington’s Meridian Gardens Magic (10-29 January at the Botanic Gardens) has been a crowd-pleaser for 38 years! Just grab a rug and a group of mates, head to the Botanic Gardens and enjoy some gigs in the garden. What’s more, they take place every night except Mondays.
New Zealand’s public holidays often come with free events that really showcase the New Zealand culture. Waitangi Day (February 6) celebrations can be seen in Wellington, Waitangi Treaty Grounds (Paihia), Queenstown, and more.
Food, art and cultural Festivals in New Zealand
There’s not a year that goes by where we cannot mention the Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika (March 11 on Weld Street). Try some truly wacky foods like huhu grubs, chicken feet and bats. There’s also fancy dress competitions and cooking demonstrations to go with your colostrum cheesecake.
The steampunk town of Oamaru unsurprisingly hosts the Steampunk Festival (1-4 June in the Victorian Precinct) with music, tea duelling, magic carpet racing, workshops, fancy dress and a steampunk ball. Plus, the Victorian Fete (20 November in the Victorian Precinct) is also a huge event with costume, parades, entertainment, food and competitions.
Celebrate the start of winter with the Queenstown Winter Festival (22-25 June all over Queenstown). Suitcase sledge races, dog derbies, music, food and fireworks, this festival has something new to offer every year but provides a week of fun before you hit the mountains for skiing.
The Cadbury Chocolate Carnival (July 20-21, all over Dunedin) might seem like a festival for kids, but if your passion for chocolate has followed you into adulthood (like most of us), then this is the festival for you. A highlight of the carnival is the Jaffa race down Balwin Street, the world’s steepest street.
Top sporting events in New Zealand
Wellington Sevens (January 28-29) has been the biggest sports party event for quite a few years now here in New Zealand. What’s it all about? 16 of the world’s greatest sevens rugby teams come together for some fierce rugby, but that’s not all the entertainment. Crowds will be treated to live performances and get involved themselves with costumes, dancing and a chance to win prizes. There’s a variety of tickets to choose from so you can be there for the whole thing or just turn up fashionably late.
The world’s largest multi-sport event, The World Masters Games (21-30 April) takes place all over Auckland. Not only can you watch the masters in competition, but you can enjoy the celebrations and entertainment at the festival at Queens Wharf.
If travelling all the way to New Zealand on a gap year wasn’t challenging enough, try doing a marathon or half-marathon in one of the most stunning countries in the world. It seems that every town or city in New Zealand likes a good excuse for a running event, but here are just a few: Queenstown Marathon, Cadbury Marathon(Dunedin), Wellington Marathon, Christchurch Marathon, Hawke’s Bay Marathon and Mountain to Surf (New Plymouth).
AND ONTO YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE
Finished with festivals and overeating? If you dig dates and timeframes for planning your New Zealand trip, then how about these New Zealand locations to visit during spring, summer, autumn and winter?
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