A Kiwi’s advice on Festivals in Aotearoa – Get amongst it

Being a Kiwi and working at Head Medical means that I am always making comparisons to New Zealand and what it is that appeals to our Doctors wanting to make the journey down to the ‘little islands off the coast of Australia’. Instantly you think the great outdoors, the beautiful weather, the stunning scenery but I don’t think that fully encompasses kiwi life or culture. Yes, we are a sporty (and rugby mad) nation but generally we are sociable and love finding excuses to get together and that is where many travellers miss out. When you get amongst the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin you get a sense of culture and down under it is no different.

So here is my list of festivals and events to try when visiting New Zealand.

You just need to take part in one of them to get a good sense of the kiwi ingenuity, passion and easy-going nature that makes us unique…

1. Rhythm & Vines Festival, December – Gisborne
Why not celebrate summer and kick start New Year in true kiwi style by camping out amongst the vines to the sounds of upcoming bands and artists on Waiohika Estate in Gisborne? Described as the ultimate New Year experience, Rhythm & Vines is New Zealand’s answer to Glastonbury.

2. World Buskers Festival, January – Christchurch
Each year the World Buskers Festival just gets bigger and bigger. Despite the recent earthquakes, musicians, acrobats, jugglers and comedians continue to descend on Christchurch to entertain more than 300,000 people. Join the crowds and wander around Hagley Park to soak up the atmosphere in this resilient Garden City.

3. Wellington Rugby 7s, February – Wellington 
This is definitely something you don’t want to miss! The International Rugby Sevens played at Westpac Stadium in Wellington in February each year is THE major sporting event in New Zealand. For a rugby mad country it is no surprise that the Sevens draw over 35,000 fans for the 2 day tournament. With teams from 16 countries you don’t have to be kiwi or a ‘rugby head’ to enjoy everything that the Sevens have to offer. Many go just for the party atmosphere and fancy dress. The city centre is transformed into a carnival of colour as fans head to the streets dressed as superheroes, robbers, pirates and ninjas!

4. Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, March – West Coast
Seagull eggs, huhu grubs, whitebait patties and mountain oysters are just some of the delicacies on offer to the 12,000 daring guests at the Wildfoods Festival held in March each year. The West Coast of the South Island is a great place to witness and experience the kiwi ingenuity that makes us so unique… and daring!

5. Winter Festival, June – Queenstown
A visit to the South Island would not be complete without hitting the slopes and what better time to do this than during the Winter Festival in Queenstown. Since the first festival in 1975 the event has evolved into New Zealand's biggest winter party, some say the biggest winter party in the Southern Hemisphere! A 10 day celebration of Queenstown's unique culture and community with street parties, fireworks, international and local acts, comedy, a Mardi Gras, family fun and plenty of mountain mayhem. Celebrating the arrival of winter in Queenstown is an absolute must, given the world-class skiing New Zealand has to offer.

So, if anyone asks why you chose to move to New Zealand you can reply that there is more to it than the scenery or the weather.

Jennifer Orr
Registration Consultant

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