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New Zealand Events Calendar: What’s Going On?

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New Zealand’s Annual Events

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.

For more events to keep in mind, check out our guide, The Top New Zealand Events & Festivals.

Top 5 Free Events in New Zealand

On a budget? Check out some of these free festivals and events.

  • Silo Cinema, Auckland (summer)
  • Meridian Gardens Magic, Wellington (part of Summer City)
  • Balloons Over Waikato, Hamilton
  • World Buskers Festival, Christchurch
  • Wellington Sky Show

Roger Wong on Wikipedia© Roger Wong on Wikipedia


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.

World Buskers Festival – Head to Hagley Park, Christchurch for music performed by buskers from all over the world.

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival – An alternative music festival in the alternative setting of Silo Park, Auckland.

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.

Plan your trip in January: New Zealand in January.

 russellstreet on Flickr© russellstreet on Flickr


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.

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.

Art Deco Weekend – Vintage buffs will love this event celebrating the 1920s and 1930s in the “Art Deco Capital”, Napier.

Kawhia Kai Festival – Get your cultural and food fix in the Maori food festival hosted for one day in the coastal town of Kawhia.

Te Matatini Festival – Immerse yourself in the Maori culture and watch some top kapa haka groups compete.

Plan your trip in February: New Zealand in February

For more summer festivals, check out 5 Summer Festivals in New Zealand.

 Eli Duke on FLickr© Eli Duke on FLickr


Wildfoods Festival – A festival where no huhu grub is safe. Eat some of the weirdest foods at the Hokitika one-day event.

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.

CubaDupa – 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.

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.

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.

Gumboot Day Taihape is the “Gumboot Capital of the World” so celebrate by throwing a gumboot or taking part in other novelty competitions.

Plan your trip in March: New Zealand in March

Maxpixel© Maxpixel


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.

Plan your trip in April: New Zealand in April

 chrisjtse on Flickr© chrisjtse on Flickr


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.

Handmade – Book yourself into one or several creative workshops across Wellington to learn something new over the weekend!

Plan your trip in May: New Zealand in May

 Juan Manuel Gomez on Flickr© Juan Manuel Gomez on Flickr


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.

Mt Ruapehu Mountain Mardi Gras – Get pumped for the start of the winter season in Ohakune, the North Island’s apres-ski area with fireworks and live music.

Plan your trip in June: New Zealand in June

 Dunedin NZ on Flickr© Dunedin NZ on Flickr


Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival [Cancelled] – 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. [Update: This event no longer exists].

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!

Plan your trip in July: New Zealand in July

For more winter festivals, check out 5 Winter Festivals in New Zealand.

 Fast Forward Event Productions on Flickr© Fast Forward Event Productions on Flickr


Wellington on a Plate – The capital city hosts New Zealand’s largest food and beverage event!

Plan your trip in August: New Zealand in August.

 Tony Hisgett on Flickr© Tony Hisgett on Flickr


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.

Body Festival – Learn how to dance from the masters or simply sit back and enjoy dance performances from mid-September to mid-October in Christchurch.

Plan your trip in September: New Zealand in September.

 Global Panorama on Flickr© Global Panorama on Flickr


Wanakafest – 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.

Kaikoura Seafest – Celebrate the sea and everything that comes from it! Expect good food, live music and daft costumes.

Plan your trip in October: New Zealand in October

 Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia© Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia


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.

Wellington Sky Show – Guy Fawkes Night evokes fireworks displays across the country, but Wellington is the place to be for a carnival atmosphere.

Plan your trip in November: New Zealand in November.

AFlickion on Wikipedia© AFlickion on Wikipedia


Silo Cinema – All summer long, on either Fridays or Saturdays, you can enjoy a movie in this free open-air event at Silo Park, Auckland.

Rhythm and Vines – The New Year reaches the city of Gisborne before any other city in the world. Party with the large festival atmosphere.

Rhythm and Alps – Celebrate the New Year in the beautiful alpine setting of the Cardrona Valley, while enjoying world-class music acts.

Festival of Lights New Plymouth hosts this festival extending into January with the illuminated decorations ofPukekura Park, live gigs, and outdoor movies at the Boat Shed Lawn.

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!

Seasonal Events

Find more festivals and events in these awesome articles:


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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