Autumn 2019 in New Zealand event highlights

With the arrival of autumn, New Zealand basks in some of its most settled temperatures and conditions.

Autumn in New Zealand is an idyllic time. In March, April and May, the weather is warm and settled, the summer crowds have gone and the countryside is bathed in hues of red and gold. It’s a time for celebrating the annual harvest, taking on a sporting challenge and enjoying the many festivals honouring New Zealand’s special character.


From lively parties in the street and high up in the sky to displays of fine art and fashion, world-class events are staged the length and breadth of New Zealand during autumn.

Waiheke Island Sculpture on the Gulf
1 – 24 March, 2019
Walk among 28 works by established and emerging New Zealand artists on Auckland's famous Waiheke Island. This special Island experience will challenge and excite visitors to explore the sculptural works, the landscape and the hospitality Waiheke Island is renowned for.
Waiheke Island Sculpture on the Gulf

Auckland Arts Festival – Auckland
7 – 24 March, 2019
Auckland’s cultural diversity and vitality are on show in March, when more than 100 venues and locations across the city host hundreds of arts festival events, including international performers and world premieres of New Zealand works. Free and ticketed performances and displays range from fine art exhibitions and classical dance, music and drama to street theatre, pop-up art projects and installations, and circus and puppet workshops. Music and outdoor activities at Silo Park near the city centre will be a focal point for the festival.
Auckland Arts Festival

iD Dunedin Fashion Week
11 – 17 March, 2019
Now in its 14th year, a new-look iD Dunedin Fashion Week will focus this year on emerging international designers, with shows staged in the Town Hall over two nights. Local designers feature in catwalk shows ahead of the award show for Emerging designers, which has drawn 170 entries from 22 countries and 56 fashion shows.
Dunedin iD Fashion Week

WOMAD – World of Music and Dance – New Plymouth
15 – 17 March, 2019
Recognised as New Zealand’s Best National Event last year, WOMAD is a great reason to visit Taranaki – the region Lonely Planet has named as the world’s second best destination. For 30 vibrant hours over three days, dozens of international and home-grown performers appear on six outdoor stages set up within beautiful Pukekura Park. Festivalgoers wander happily between the family-friendly venues, past pop-up villages that offer arts, craft, tasty eats and drinks, wellness therapies and sustainability advice, a craft beer garden, and a host of engaging workshops and talks. Camping and glamping are available nearby, with the options of bedding down in a teepee or Wildernest village.

Balloons Over Waikato – Hamilton
19 – 23 March, 2019
Balloons climbing through the sunrise, a choreographed “basket burn” and mass lift-offs contribute to a carnival atmosphere that makes Balloons Over Waikato one of Hamilton’s most popular events.  The Zuru Nightglow, accompanied by soaring orchestral music and a firework finale, is the city’s biggest night of the year.
Balloons Over Waikato

Dunedin Fringe Festival
21 – 31 March, 2019
Experimental and innovative works by emerging contemporary artists draw thousands of people to what is the southernmost festival of its kind in the world. Dozens of acts and installations are offered over the festival’s 10 days, bookended by an Opening Night Showcase that launches the event with bite-sized previews of all that lies ahead, and an Awards Night to wrap up.
Dunedin Fringe Festival

CubaDupa – Wellington
30 – 31 March, 2019     
Cuba Street is a haven for the capital’s fun seekers, and the fun rises to fever pitch over CubaDupa’s two exuberant days. High-spirited crowds join in the hundreds of high-octane performances and street parades or watch from the sidelines. International artists join the act, and cafés, bars and restaurants take their treats out onto the street.

Southern Lakes Festival of Colour – Wanaka
2 – 7 April, 2019
The Festival of Colour is the flagship arts event for the Southern Lakes region and the seventh edition comes with a six-day programme of music, dance, theatre, classical music, visual arts and street theatre. Dubbed the best little arts festival in New Zealand, The Festival of Colour is the perfect excuse to visit Wanaka.
Southern Lakes Festival of Colour

Wairarapa Balloon Festival – Wairarapa
18 – 22 April, 2019           
All eyes are raised skyward during five days of hot air ballooning events at venues across Wairarapa. Highlights are the mass balloon launches at sunrise, balloon rides, a Burner Parade featuring a fiery display by balloon pilots and crew through Greytown and Carterton, and the Night Glow, when tethered balloons are illuminated against a backdrop of music. 
Wairarapa Balloon Festival

Wheels At Wanaka
20 – 21 April, 2019
Wheels at Wanaka is a new, biennial vintage show. The event will rotate yearly with Warbirds Over Wanaka over the Easter holiday weekend. Covering 50 acres, Wheels at Wanaka will bring together classic vehicles, vintage farm machinery, cars, motorcycles, trucks, earthmoving and engine demonstrations, tractor dancing, market stalls, interactive kids play zones, parades and much more. A highlight at the inaugural event will be the Henry Ford Letter Car Collection from Invercargill's Transport World.
Wheels at Wanaka

Featherston Booktown Festival
9 – 12 May, 2019
Featherston, tucked into the south Wairarapa foothills of the Remutaka Range, has earned International Booktown status thanks to its emerging reputation as a little town with lots of book shops (six to date) and an annual festival. The 2019 festival (fifth edition) starts with a Fish'n'Chip supper and will bring together some of New Zealand's top writers, readers and book lovers for a series of workshops, children's activities and literary themed special events including a Mother's Day afternoon tea featuring five extraordinary wormen writers. Also expected is a record number of booksellers.
Featherston Booktown Festival

Auckland Writers Festival
13 – 19 May, 2019
Every year the Auckland Writers Festival brings the very best local and international writers of contemporary fiction and non-fiction, scientists, economists, poets, journalists and public intellectuals together with audiences to explore ideas, share stories and experience brilliant conversations. Celebrating curiosity and a sense of intellectual adventure and the programme is driven by the desire to spark ideas, to get people talking and to give them a time and place to engage with the world.
Auckland Writer's Festival

Auckland Festival of Photography
31 May – 16 June, 2019
Auckland Festival of Photography is New Zealand's premium public international photographic festival, a gathering of photographers - amateurs and professionals, curators, students, from around New Zealand and the Asia Pacific for the aim of encouraging the public to celebrate the art of photography each winter. Free exhibitions, events, competitions, prizes, talks and walks.
Auckland Festival of Photography


The great outdoors loses none of its appeal in autumn, when roads, mountains and vineyards become race circuits for thousands of enthusiastic runners and cyclists, and elite competitors and supporters gather for international sporting meets.

New Zealand Open – Queenstown
28 February – 3 March, 2019         
Professionals and amateurs play together for the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, held on two world-class golf courses, The Hills and Millbrook Resort. There’s a minimum field of 140 professionals and 140 amateurs, with the professionals competing for the New Zealand Open title at the same time as pairs comprising one professional and one amateur play a best-ball format for the New Zealand Pro-Am Championship. The Korean golfing great K.J. Choi is among the internationals confirmed to play this year.
New Zealand Open

Crankworx – Rotorua
19 – 24 March, 2019     
Recognised as the biggest competition of its kind in the world, Crankworx kicks off the first round of its four-stop world tour in Rotorua. This year the dual slalom race, when riders compete side by side, has made a comeback and an entirely new race has been added, the Redwoods Downhill through the Whakarewarewa forest. As well as the anticipated racing thrills and spills, lots of off-track activities are planned.

Le Race – Christchurch to Akaroa
23 March, 2019
In this unlikely antipodean take on a race from England to France, cyclists head out from the heart of Christchurch across steep hills and green valleys to the comely French seaside town of Akaroa, 100 kilometres away. Le Race, for individuals, tandems and teams, is the modern version of a race that began in 1935 and until 1959 involved shingle roads. A shorter event, Le Race Petite, ends at Little River after a less daunting 53 kilometres.
Le Race – Christchurch to Akaroa

Forrest Graperide – Marlborough
30 March, 2019    
Cyclists are invited to sip, savour and cycle in this event, which starts and finishes at Forrest Estate. The 101 kilometre ride crosses the Wairau plain to Picton then winds around the bays of the Marlborough Sounds to Havelock. You can do it twice if you’re keen to complete the Magnum course (202km) or just take the Taster (42 km) alongside Wairau River. Returning riders may be invited to crush grapes for the Hundred Virgins wine.
Forest Graperide

Contact Epic Ultimate Mountain Bike Challenge – Wanaka
13 April, 2019  
An endurance event for mountain bikers, the Contact Epic challenge has several options for circumnavigating Lake Hawea in splendid isolation on unspoilt high-country routes. For 100 competitors for whom 95 or 125 kilometres aren’t enough, the Centurion race encompasses 160 kilometres and all three courses in a single day. The 35 kilometre Traverse for novice and intermediate riders crosses private farmland and the Clutha and Hawea rivers.
Contact Epic Ultimate Mountain Bike Challenge

100K Flyer – Lake Karapiro
13 April, 2019  
After 19 years the Rotorua to Taupo 100K Flyer has a new home at Lake Karapiro; the 20th 100K Flyer will start and finish at the Mighty River Domain in Karapiro. Join over 1500 cyclists in this 100km circuit where you will ride through quiet rolling country roads and at the completion of your race you will receive a stunning finisher's medal.
100k Flyer

The Big Easy – Hawke’s Bay
20 April, 2019 
Everyone’s a winner in the Big Easy, a cycling event like no other in which riders are encouraged to take their time and enjoy the tastes, treats and other distractions along the way. The 42 kilometre route from Black Barn Vineyard in Havelock North along Hawke’s Bay Trails is lined with temptations in the form of food and drinks and special deals. At the destination, Church Road Winery in Napier, riders are treated to a wrap-up party and concert. Families can opt for The Little Easy, starting from Clive and covering 28 kilometres.
The Big Easy

Waiheke Half Marathon – Waiheke Island, Auckland
4 May, 2019     
Waiheke’s half marathon skirts the island’s beaches and vineyards, with some country roads along the route surfaced only with hard-packed dirt. Runners can attempt 21 or 10 kilometres, while for the first time this year a 5 kilometre course is offered for walkers.
Waiheke Half Marathon

St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon – Blenheim
11 May, 2019   
Gorgeous autumn landscapes cradled by mountain ranges provide a visual treat for walkers and runners setting off on the 21 kilometre course from and back to St Clair Cellar Door. Competitors can run, walk or mix the two as they traverse celebrated Marlborough vineyards. Finishers receive a trophy bottle of wine and can savour gourmet treats and live music as they catch their breath.
Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon

Hawke’s Bay Marathon
18 May, 2019    
Marathoners and fun runners make easy work of the flat Hawke’s Bay terrain as they trek past olive groves and through private vineyards, along the oceanfront and down country roads and bike trails. A prize-giving and post-race festival await at the finishing line at Sileni Estates Winery in Hastings. Competitors in the Air New Zealand Hawke’s Bay Marathon can choose from the full 42 kilometres or shorter runs of 21, 10 and (for children) 3 kilometres.
Air New Zealand Hawkes Bay Marathon


Growers and gatherers invite all comers to sample New Zealand’s bounty, against a backdrop of brilliant blue skies and burnished golden landscapes.

Framingham Harvest Concert – Renwick, Marlborough
8 March, 2019  
An annual harvest celebration at Framingham Wines, offering lively music and fine food and wine for over-18s. Tickets are limited.
Framingham Harvest Concert

Hokitika Wildfoods Festival – West Coast
9 March, 2019
Sink your teeth into something wild and wonderful at this quirky West Coast festival, where enthusiastic visitors challenge their palates with huhu grubs, fish eyes and chicken feet, pigs’ ears and duck heads, scorpions and other exotic foods. Less adventurous diners can opt for game meats, Maori hangi, smoked salmon and whitebait. Find out what to do with your wild beasties in the Demo Zone, and dress up or down for the Feral Fashion Competition. There’s also a weekend-long market and line-up of local and international performers.
Hokitika Wildfoods Festival

Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival – Gladstone
9 March, 2019
Fine wine, food and music are served to festivalgoers in a stunning riverside setting beneath ancient native trees. Visitors can sample wines from the biggest and best-known wineries and from the region’s smaller boutique producers, as well as having the opportunity to meet the wine makers. On the menu are dishes from the region’s finest restaurants and food producers and might include such delicacies as crayfish and wild pork, rabbit pie, goat’s meat brochette or venison burgers. Tickets are limited and sell out quickly.
Wairarapa Harvest Festival

North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival – Waipara
10 March, 2019
Enjoy tunes and talks and local drinks and delicacies under the oak trees at what’s billed as the “coolest little wine festival” in the country.
North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival

MarchFest – Nelson
9 March, 2019
Craft beer is the top drawcard for MarchFest – naturally enough, as Nelson-Tasman is New Zealand’s only hop-growing region. All beers have been commissioned especially for the event in Founders Park, and not previously tasted by members of the public. There’s beer and food matching and a Brew Zone for home brew fans. For the unconverted, local cider and wine also feature, along with food stalls, a Kid Zone and high-profile musicians performing live.

Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival – Marlborough Sounds
16 March, 2019
Go green for St Patrick’s Day in the Marlborough Sounds, where green-lipped mussels are the highlight of the festival menu. Mussel in on the full day’s action at Havelock Domain – kapa haka performances, bands, a comedian, cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs, competitions and market stalls.
Havelock Mussel Festival

Clyde Wine and Food Harvest Festival – Central Otago
21 April, 2019
This festival, held on Easter Sunday just before the major grape harvest gets underway, features labels from the world’s most southerly vineyards, including acclaimed pinot noirs. Sample the best from more than 20 local wine producers. 
Clyde Wine and Food Harvest Festival

Soljan’s Berba Croatian Harvest Celebration – Kumeu
20 April – 22 April, 2019            
Soljan’s Estate Winery marks its grape harvest with three days of traditional Croatian festivities during Easter. Visitors can join in with grape stomping, barrel rolling races, take winery tours with the owner, dine on harvest platters, and enjoy live music and Dalmatian and Croatian dance performances.
Soljan’s Berba Croatian Harvest Celebration

International Sauvignon Blanc Day – Marlborough
4 May, 2019    
This event is the centrepiece of 16 days of celebrations at Marlborough’s medal-winning wineries from 19 April to 5 May, honouring the wine for which the region is known around the world.
International Sauvignon Blanc Day

Bluff Oyster Festival –  Southland
25 May, 2019                
For an experience that’s really worth its salt, you can’t go past Bluff – not just because it’s at the southern tip of the South Island but because of the famed plumpness and delicacy of its oysters. The small town’s population explodes as planeloads of visitors disembark from specially scheduled flights for the Bluff Oyster Festival. They’re here to feast on oysters and other sparkling fresh seafood such as crayfish, blue cod, paua, scallops and whitebait, and on wild foods such as muttonbird and venison. The festivities are rounded out with local ales, live music and competitions to shuck and eat oysters, including in relays and blindfolded. By day’s end, up to 30,000 oysters will have been eaten.
Bluff Oyster Festival

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