Get set to sizzle this summer with a showcase of the best of New Zealand’s culture, music and food. From buskers to bandstands, foodie feasts and films, see NZ through these great events.
Auckland & surrounds
The festival for culture: SPLORE
Held in the Tapapakanga Park an hour southeast of Auckland, Splore has emerged as one of New Zealand’s best family-friendly festivals with an extensive visual arts programme and a big emphasis on community interaction and sustainability. Held from 22-24 February 2019, there are five stages given over to art, performance and music for the three-day event.
The festival for music mavens: LANEWAY
What started as a series of Sunday sessions in a small bar has turned into an Asia-Pacific festival phenomenon that had its inaugural run in Auckland in 2010. Held over two stages in Albert Park on 29 January 2019, this year’s Laneway Festival will feature acts such as Mac Demarco, Bonobo, Baynk, and The Internet.
The festival for your roots: PASIFIKA
The Pasifika festival in Auckland celebrates Pacific Islander heritage and diversity. Held at Western Springs Park on the weekend of 24-25 March 2018, the festival is divided into 11 cultural villages and attracts an incredible 80,000 visitors who come to try traditional cuisine, watch performances and learn about each culture. Free!
The festival to laugh at: COMEDY FESTIVAL
Tickle your funny bone at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival held across venues in Auckland, Wellington and some regional cities from 26 April-20 May 2018 and featuring stand up, sketch, improv, theatre and musical comedy.
Central North Island
The festival that’s left of centre: WANDERLUST
It’s a curious thing when yoga gurus get top billing alongside musical acts like the Black Seeds, but the Wanderlust festival does things a little differently. The popular international wellbeing festival is running in Great Lake Taupo area from 30 June 2018 and features a blend of yoga, music, meditation, workshops, hikes and inspiring lectures. Expect everything from medicinal native plant hikes to interpretive dance classes.
Stay at YHA Taupo
The festival for wild childs: RHYTHM AND VINES
What began with a bunch of uni mates putting on a festival in the family vineyard has become New Zealand’s favourite way to ring in New Year’s Eve. Rhythm and Vines runs from 29-31 December, the three-day festival near Gisborne attracts 30,000 people, with big name international artists often performing. Little innovations make the festival unique with dress-up days and a Vintage Club upgrade available.
Stay at YHA Gisborne
The festival for local talent: HOMEGROWN
With 45 acts, five stages and born and bred local talent, Homegrown remains a celebration of Kiwis who have made it big and a platform for new Kiwi talent. This year, artists including Shapeshifter, Fat Freddy's Drop, the Feelers, Kora, and Aaradhna are scheduled to perform on the Wellington Waterfront in March 2019. 2018 was a record sell out so get in quick.
The festival for surprises: FRINGE FESTIVAL
With over 100 self-produced events and shows, the Wellington Fringe Festival is a daring open-access event held in venues around the city each year. Scheduled to run for three weeks in March 2019, previous events have featured everything from hard-core bingo to fairytales on fire and aerial yoga. Check out their programme to see what you can expect this year!
Stay at YHA Wellington
Top of the South
The festival to drink to: MARCHFEST
Get into the groove of a new season at Marchfest held on 9 March 2019 in sunny Nelson. The day-long event features homegrown musical talent, a beer line up of local, never-before-tasted-by-the-public-brew, wine, cider juices and regional cuisine. Highlights include a gourmet beer-matching lunch, regular brew talks and indie/world music gigs.
Stay at YHA Nelson
Canterbury and West Coast
The Festival for food lovers: WILDFOODS
You’ve really got to be a food lover to stomach what’s on offer at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival, held on 9 March 2019 on the West Coast of the South Island. The adventurous festival is aimed at sustainability and getting people to try things they normally wouldn’t. 15,000 visitors feast on everything from cow’s placenta pate to barbequed Huhu bugs and wildberry ice cream with cicada topping.
Stay at YHA Hokitika
The festival for the free: WORLD BUSKERS FESTIVAL
Fabulous, fast paced and best of all, free to the public, the World Buskers Festival has been held annually in Christchurch since 1993 and is one of the best celebrations of street theatre in the world. Both local and international acts pan for your pennies during the ten-day event from the 10 January - 3 February 2019 in venues and on streets around the city centre. There are a mix of free and ticketed shows to suit everyone.
The festival for Autumn: Festival of Colour
Worth a look is the low-key Southern Lakes Festival of Colour based in Wanaka with satellite events in Queenstown, Luggage, Hawea and Cromwell. Running from 2-7 April 2019, the music, theatre and dance festival bills itself as the best little arts festival in New Zealand.
Stay at YHA Wanaka
10 step festival survival plan:
1. Book ahead for beds at the local YHA, tickets for events, flights into town, buses and parking at the venue - well ahead!
2. Check the website, follow the festival twitter and download the app to plan your day and find out about delays.
3. Stash some cash in a safe place on your body BUT keep in mind most festivals are moving to special chipped wristbands. Check the rules before you go.
4. Water, water, everywhere: drink plenty of it and be aware that booze can make you dehydrated.
5. Bring ID, you’ll need it to get into the venue or buy alcohol.
6. Pick a central meeting point: essential if you’re with friends or a larger group and get separated.
7. Shoes: wear comfy shoes (avoid heels) and if it’s rainy consider investing in a decent pair of knee-high gumboots to help you through the mud.
8. Get covered: a simple poncho or rain jacket can protect you from the elements.
9. Clothes: stay away from anything too fancy. Rips, tears, stains and sweat are common festival clothing killers.
10. Be sun smart and use sunscreen, wear a hat and slip on your sunnies to protect yourself from the summer sun.
YHA Auckland City
Recently refurbished with a 3 million dollar makeover, YHA Auckland City is the ideal backpacker hostel to start or finish your New Zealand adventure.
Bright, super clean, modern, and friendly, this is one of the most central hostels in Wellington. Our 5 Star Gold Qualmark-rated backpackers comes flush with two kitchens, ample communal areas, and an on-site espresso bar. Handy!
This cosy and charming character hostel is nestled in spacious grounds in New Zealand's sunniest city. Unwind in the sunshine and enjoy the relaxed, warm atmosphere of YHA Gisborne.
This friendly, family-run backpacker hostel earns its excellent reputation for its welcoming ambiance, modern facilities and high standard of cleanliness. YHA Hokitika is warm, comfortable, homely, quiet, and charming.
YHA Nelson is a comfortable and popular Qualmark-rated hostel in the heart of sunny Nelson city, close to supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and shops. This family-owned backpackers is comfortable, clean, and secure.
Stay in our comfortable modernised heritage building, complete with 5 Star Gold Qualmark rating. This hostel is second-to-none for location, a stone's throw from art galleries, museums, gardens, and a full array of venues to enjoy food, drink, and live music.
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