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 26-28 February 2021, 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. Last held over two stages in Albert Park on 27 January 2020, the recent Laneway Festival featured acts such as Mac Demarco, Bonobo, Baynk, and The Internet. Dates for 2021 are still to be released.
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 14-15 March 2020, 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 30 April-24 May 2020 which featured stand up, sketch, improv, theatre and musical comedy.
Central North Island
The festival for a wild child: 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 28-31 December 2020, 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. Previous acts have included Shapeshifter, Fat Freddy's Drop, the Feelers, Kora, and Aaradhna are scheduled to perform on the Wellington Waterfront in 21 March 2020.
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 from 28 February - 22 March 2020, 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 14 March 2020 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 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. The festival is in March every year, 2021 dates are yet to be released.
Stay at YHA Hokitika
The festival for the free: WORLD BUSKERS FESTIVAL
Fabulous, fast paced and best of all, full of street shows 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 in venues and on streets around the city centre. There are a mix of free and ticketed shows to suit everyone. The festival in January every year, 2021 dates are yet to be released.
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 next in April 2021, 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 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
This modern, recently refurbished backpacker hostel combines the excitement of the city with a safe and secure environment.
YHA Wellington is one of the best-located backpacker hostels in town, complete with two kitchens, vibrant communal spaces, and an on-site espresso bar.
This hostel offers a warm and friendly atmosphere and is a great place to chill out and unwind or take a walk to the surfing beaches at Wainui and Waikanae.
YHA Hokitika, Birdsong Accommodation is family-run hostel that is known for it's warm welcoming ambiance, cleanliness, bird-inspired artwork, and modern facilities.
YHA Nelson is a comfortable, central backpacker hostel next to the popular Nelson Markets. Enjoy our garden, BBQ area, and well-equipped communal areas.
YHA Christchurch is a homely heritage building with a modern atmosphere. Located near the town centre, this backpacker hostel is a perfect home base to see everything Christchurch has to offer!
DOC Short Walks
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7 Epic Surf Spots in New Zealand
With so much coastline to explore, it'd be rude not to hit the surf on your next NZ break.
Northland Road Trip
Head to the Winterless North to catch some rays any time of year. This itinerary shows off some of Northland's highlights.