The Ultimate Guide to Celebrations, Festivals and Events in New Zealand
Party, eat, drink, dress up, dance and spectate your way through this year in New Zealand by hitting the major events found around the country! From music festivals to cultural competitions, there’s plenty to observe during your time travelling around New Zealand. Checking out some of the New Zealand events and festivals is a fantastic way to experience the local culture and enjoy the vibrant ambience of a Kiwi get-together. We list events well worth getting tickets for in this guide to the top New Zealand events and festivals for this year!
Top 5 Maori Celebrations, Festivals and Events Events
Celebrate the cultures of the South Pacific and New Zealand with these Maori festivals and celebrations. Be captivated by the haka, entertained with song and dance, and filled with wonderful food while you explore New Zealand!
- Wellington Pasifika Festival at Odlins Plaza, Wellington (11 February)
- Māoriland Film Festival in Otaki, Kapiti (15-19 March)
- Pasifika Festival at Western Springs, Auckland (18-19 March)
- ASB Polyfest at Manukau Sports Bowl, Auckland (20-23 March)
- Matariki / Maori New Year, Nationwide (14 July)
[CANCELLED] Kawhia Kai Festival at the Omimiti Reserve, Kawhia.
New Zealand Music Festivals
Summer in New Zealand runs from December to February which means that, unlike in the Northern Hemisphere, some of the best festivals happen from New Year’s Eve up until Easter.
One of the biggest music festivals of the year, Rhythm and Vines (29-31 December in Waiohika Estate, Gisborne) is the ultimate New Year’s Eve celebration. Party among the sunny vineyards of Gisborne along with the 20 Best Things to Do in Gisborne.
Alternatively, kick off the new year with Rhythm and Alps (29-31 December in Cardrona Valley, Wanaka). Head to the mountainous South Island setting near Wanaka to celebrate the start of the new year. While you’re there, don’t miss the 25 Best Things to Do in Wanaka.
New Zealand’s family-friendly summer festival, Soundsplash (20-22 January at Wainui Reserve, Raglan) has more than 40 music acts performing across three stages. Treat the tastebuds at its global food market and engage in all sorts of musical and cultural activities in between the 15 Best Things to Do in Raglan.
Splore (22-25 February in Tapapakanga Park, Auckland) is a music festival by the beach in the beautiful location of Tapapakanga Park. Enjoy an extensive line-up of musical acts and cultural performances.
WOMAD (15-27 March in TSB Bowl of Brooklands Park, New Plymouth) stands for “World of Music, Arts and Dance” so expect great diversity in one of the most vibrant art hubs of the North Island, New Plymouth. Six stages are set up over three days bringing you energetic performances, workshops and much more! Check out more things to do in the 15 Best Things to Do in New Plymouth.
More New Zealand Festivals and How to Get Involved
For more festivals worth checking out, be sure to check out the 10 Summer Festivals in New Zealand. If you want to get involved, meet new people and save money on a festival ticket, take a look at our guide on How to Volunteer at a Festival in New Zealand.
New Zealand Cultural Events
Festivals and events are a great way to experience the diverse culture of New Zealand. Here are some of the top cultural events to check out this year.
Waitangi Day (6 February) induces Maori cultural events all over the country! Top Waitangi Day events include those at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands and the Okains Bay Museum in the Banks Peninsula near Christchurch and Akaroa. Learn more about the public holiday in What is Waitangi Day?
Similarly, Matariki (14 July) is the start of many cultural celebrations across New Zealand, which last about one month. Find out more about the event in What is Matariki – The Maori New Year.
And for a slice of the Kiwi culture, check out the wacky mid-winter events of Russell Birdman (8 July on the Russel Waterfront, Bay of Islands) where you can participate or watch people launch themselves into the chilly Bay of Islands’ waters from Russell Wharf. There are also fancy dress races, spaghetti-eating competitions and more. Learn more about what to do while you’re there in the 20 Best Things to Do in the Bay of Islands.
New Zealand Food and Wine Festivals
Treat yourself (and your stomach) to one of the foodie festivals in New Zealand. Make it a part of your foodie getaway by also following the advice in The Food Guide to New Zealand.
The infamous Marlborough Wine Festival (11 February at Renwick Domain, Blenheim) is where around 40 local wineries get together for a huge party and everyone’s invited! Join in for some great music, awesome food, great wine, masterclasses and more in New Zealand’s largest wine-making region. Learn more about the area in the 10 Best Wineries in Marlborough.
The Wildfoods Festival (11 March at Cass Square in Hokitika) is a Kiwi calendar favourite. Try heaps of weird food on offer like huhu grubs, bats, chicken legs and so much more. Otherwise, enjoy fancy dress, cooking demonstrations and a pretty wild after-party. While you’re there, treat yourself to some of the 10 Best Things to Do in Hokitika.
Wellington on a Plate (5-21 May all over Wellington) is where New Zealand’s capital city gets our tastebuds watering for a whole month with hundreds of events going on around the city and outer region. Learn more about Wellington’s food scene in The Food Guide to Wellington.
Sample the best wine and food from the Central Otago region at Ripe – The Wanaka Wine and Food Festival (18 March at Glendhu Bay, Wanaka). The event’s high country station venue on the shores of Lake Wanaka makes for a stunning setting to enjoy local wines and artisan delights. The festival is single-use and waste-free too, with tickets including reusable cups to take home, vendors using reusable plates and more. In between, check out the 25 Best Things to Do in Wanaka.
New Zealand loves seafood, so experience their passion at the Coromandel’s Whitianga Oceans Festival (cancelled). The South Island equivalent is the Bluff Oyster Festival (cancelled) to taste Southland cuisine and wild foods. Check out 10 Awesome Things to Do in Whitianga and 5 Fun Things to Do in Bluff for more experiences to have beyond the festivals.
New Zealand Vintage Festivals
New Zealand loves a bit of “yesteryears”, so much so that they have era-themed festivals!
If you want to experience a town go back in time, don’t miss Oamaru’s Victorian Fete (15-19 November in the Victorian Precinct, Oamaru). Put on your finest Victorian attire (because you packed that for your trip to New Zealand, right?) and join in with the locals for a day of crazy competitions, too much food, too much drink and some more fun stuff. While you’re there, try some of the 10 Best Things to Do in Oamaru.
Finally, we can’t forget the Art Deco Festival (16-19 February all over Napier) in New Zealand’s “Art Deco Capital”. See the city come alive with outfits to match the architecture, parades, air shows, costumes and endless amounts of vintage fun and finery. Otherwise, Napier is a good place to experience all things vintage anyway, just see in 15 Best Things to Do in Napier.
New Zealand Free Festivals
Some of the best festivals are free! Check out the New Zealand festivals in 2022 that you don’t have to pay for.
Wellington’s Gardens Magic (10-29 January at the Botanic Garden, Wellington) is the capital’s summer party with free concerts in the Botanic Gardens and gorgeous light displays in the evenings, while the daytime offers family fun at the Kids Garden Trail.
Christchurch’s Bread & Circus (13-29 January all over Christchurch city), formerly the World Buskers Festival, is a mix of free and paid events of some of the world’s best street performers, from music to burlesque to comedy. Most free performances can be found at Christchurch’s Market Square and the Bridge of Remembrance.
Balloons Over Waikato (14-18 March at Innes Common, Hamilton) is a renowned annual event here in New Zealand! See a sky full of creative hot air balloons, from traditional to the weird and wonderful. Check out more 10 Great Things to Do in Hamilton.
For the prettiest park you ever did see, enjoy Taranaki’s Festival of Lights (17 December-22 January at Pukekura Park, New Plymouth) with picturesque illuminations, free competitions and music happening in the park throughout the summer. Combine the event with the 15 Best Things to Do in New Plymouth.
New Zealand Sports Events
New Zealand loves sports and you will too after attending some of the nation’s biggest events this year!
The HSBC NZ Sevens (21-22 January at Fred Jones Park, Hamilton) is New Zealand’s biggest rugby party! Experience the electric atmosphere of a rugby tournament in New Zealand with a Kiwi stadium hosting men’s and women’s rugby teams across the world. Join in the after-party with comedy and musical acts in a festival-like atmosphere.
Watch skiers and snowboarders do their thing at the Winter Games NZ (27 August-9 September in Queenstown, Wanaka and Naseby). From high-octane alpine ski racing to thrilling freeski and snowboard park and pipe events to adrenaline-inducing freeride events, there is something for everyone.
Rather than being a spectator, get into the sport yourself with one of New Zealand’s marathons! It seems that every town or city in New Zealand likes a good excuse for a running event, but a few worth keeping in mind include the Queenstown Marathon (18 November), Wellington Marathon (25 June), Christchurch Marathon (14 April) and Hawke’s Bay Marathon (26 August).
Alternatively, get on your bike with the BDO Taupo Cycle Challenge (25 November in Taupo). New Zealand’s largest cycling occasion welcomes thousands of riders and supporters.
More About Events and Festivals in New Zealand
That’s it for our guide to the top New Zealand events and festivals, but we have much more on the subject for your browsing pleasure:
- What to Do for Christmas in New Zealand
- Where to Spend New Year’s Eve in New Zealand
- 10 Summer Festivals in New Zealand
- 10 Winter Festivals in New Zealand
Public Holidays in New Zealand
Finally, don’t forget the public holidays, which we list in our complete guide, Public Holidays in New Zealand.