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Must-visit New Zealand winter festivals

Published May 13th, 2015

Giant Cadbury Jaffas hurtling down the world’s steepest street. Free parties as part of Queenstown’s biggest party. Month-long Maori New Year celebrations. The future stars of world football. And something called Beervana. Beervana. Whoever said NZ in winter was reserved for ski junkies, off-peak holiday prices and extra ooooh ahhhhh-worthy glaciers have perhaps yet to have the fortune of attending the following New Zealand winter festivals and celebrations.

 

Get ready for the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand in 2015.

FIFA U-20 World Cup

You’re likely to see future FIFA World Cup stars at one of 54 FIFA U-20 World Cup matches held across New Zealand this year. This is the first time this bi-annual event has been hosted by New Zealand since it began in 1977 – might be worth booking your tickets early.

When? May 30 to June 20, 2015

Where? Across New Zealand

 

Hayley Holt competes in the Auckland Airport Suitcase Race on Coronet Peak at American Express Queenstown Winter Festival 2014.
Photo: Queenstown Winter Festival

Queenstown Winter Festival

New Zealand’s biggest winter party has something for everyone and plenty of free parties throughout the festivities held in the adventure capital of Queenstown. Think ice-skating, fireworks, snowboarding, dog derbies (and barking competitions!), DJs, balls, suitcase races, undie runs, drag queen and celebrity races, hot tub parties, Mardi Gras and more.

When? June 19 to 28, 2015

Where? Queenstown

 

Matariki

This month-long celebration for the Maori New Year includes street performances; music, theatre and dance performances; traditional classes; and lantern parades across the country. It’s a time to celebrate where you live and give respect to the land – it’s also a great op for visitors to learn about NZ's Maori culture.

When? June 28 to July 28, 2015

Where? Across New Zealand

 

Watching the Jaffa race at the 2014 Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival. Photo: Mondelez International

Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival

In addition to the carnival’s famous Jaffa race down Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street, a trip to Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival could mean a ride on the Crunchie Train, a seat at the Cadbury Couture Fashion show and the satisfaction knowing that the proceeds of most events go to charities.

When? July 11 to 17, 2015

Where? Dunedin

 

A Beervana Festival event at Visa Wellington on a Plate 2014.
Photo: Positively Wellington Tourism

 

Wellington on a Plate

Two weeks of food and drink events – more than one hundred across the café culture-loving city of Wellington – including a chocolate festival and Beervana, a showcase of New Zealand’s craft beers. Last year there was even an event called Tripe, Trotters and Testicles and a masterclass on beekeeping – who knows what this year shall bring?

When? August 14 to 30, 2015

Where? Wellington

 

Gay Ski Week QT
Photo: Gay Ski Week QT

 

Gay Ski Week QT

A sporting event and 'the largest gay and lesbian Winter Pride in the Southern Hemisphere', Gay Ski Week QT has gained popularity since gay marriage was legalised in NZ in 2013. At this snowy event in Queenstown, there’s even high-speed speed dating where you meet with a date while racing around a track at speeds of up to 200km/hour!

When? August 29 to September 5, 2015

Where? Queenstown

 

Jolee Wakefield

A seasoned backpacker and travel writer, Jolee has spent the past decade wandering the globe in pursuit of good vibes, unusual conversations and unforgettable adventures like cave diving in Mexico, mountain climbing in Borneo and learning (failing at) local dances in the Pacific nation of Kiribati.