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 outWhat is Matariki – The Maori New Year
When? Matariki usually beings around the end of May to the end of June.
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 are 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.
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.
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.
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.