Celebrating Chinese New Year in New Zealand

New Zealand prides itself on celebrating the diverse cultures of the many ethnic groups that inhabit this land and Chinese New Year is no exception.

New Zealand prides itself on celebrating the diverse cultures of the many ethnic groups that inhabit this land. And, in a land that is home to a thriving Chinese community that numbers around 90,000 China-born residents - plus many more New Zealanders who identify as ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is no exception.

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday of the Chinese calendar and one of the most ancient events celebrated around the world.

Observed between late January and mid-February, depending on the lunisolar Chinese calendar, Chinese New Year is a vibrant occasion filled with colour, family traditions and hopes for the future.

Each year, one of the 12 animals from the Chinese zodiac is celebrated and, in 2019, it is the year of the pig. 

From the multi-cultural mecca of Auckland’s 'City of Sails', to the creative hub of the capital city in Wellington, there are plenty of Chinese New Year inspired annual events taking place marking this fun and auspicious occasion.

Auckland - Chinese New Year Festival & Market

Saturday, 2 February, 2019
ASB Showgrounds, Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most culturally diverse city plays host to an annual Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day which is usually timed to kick off celebrations just ahead of the official dates. 

Organised by the Auckland Chinese Community Centre Inc, this event has been running for almost 30 years and features over 200 specialist stalls showcasing Chinese delicacies, cuisine, arts and crafts, and performances. It has become a must-do in the Auckland summer event calendar.

Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day

Dunedin Chinese New Year Festival

Tuesday, 5 February, 2019
Dunedin Chinese Garden, Dunedin

Dunedin's Chinese Garden is a perfect miniature of a traditional Chinese landscape painting, encapsulating the essence of nature. Established 10 years ago to celebrate the city's Chinese heritage and sister city relationship with Shanghai, it offers a tranquil oasis in an urban setting.

Chinese New Year celebrations in Dunedin include entertainment in the garden, a dragon parade from the central city Octagon, followed by dragon and lion dancing, cultural performances, food stalls and a grand finale at the Garden.

New Networks: Contemporary Chinese Art showing at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery (until 28 April 2019) is an ambitious exhibition, showcasing works by leading figures from the contemporary Chinese Art Movement. Drawn from art collections in both New Zealand and Australia, this is the first time that many of these significant artworks have been shown in this country. 

Dunedin Chinese Garden 

Christchurch Night Noodle Markets

Wednesday, 6 - Sunday, 17 February, 2019
North Hagley Park, Christchurch

The ever popular Night Noodle Markets will return to Christchurch for an extended 12-night season in February 2019. The ultimate Asian pop-up market will transform North Hagley Park into a glorious fusion of Eastern flavours and the colours of Chinese lanterns. The programme includes authentic family-friendly entertainment, cuisine from top notch international and local vendors, and a fully licensed bar. 

Night Noodle Markets

Wellington - Chinese New Year Festival

Saturday, 9 & Sunday, 10 February, 2019
TSB Bank Arena & Shed 6, Auckland

Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city celebrates Chinese New Year in style with their annual Chinese New Year Festival. Organised by the Asian Events Trust, the event has been going strong for 19 years, and has already completed a full animal cycle.

2019 celebrations coincide with the landmark exhibition at Te Papa - the national museum, Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality (until 22 April, 2019) and this year's festival will include several special events created to celebrate this exhibition. The festival events include performing arts, a Beijing meets Wellington football game and a spectacular fireworks display which is best viewed from the waterfront. 

The main festival day includes an Asian market, a street parade and plenty of cultural entertainment all centred on Wellington’s picturesque waterfront. 

Chinese New Year Festival

Auckland Lantern Festival

Thursday, 14 February - Sunday, 17 February, 2019
Auckland Domain

The Auckland Lantern Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019, is another magical event bringing Chinese culture to the fore. It is one of Auckland’s favourite and most anticipated cultural events with around 200,000 visitors annually.

The Lantern Festival brings the city to life as hundreds of handmade and spectacular illuminations brighten the night sky and the crowds pour into the Auckland Domain. On a hill overlooking central Auckland, the old trees and expansive lawns of the Domain take on a beautiful night time glow with the brilliant colours of more than 800 lanterns on show. A street full of food stalls, music and entertainment add to the festival atmosphere so follow the crowds through Newmarket and Parnell into the Domain.

There is always plenty of family-friendly entertainment - including international acts from China, ranging from martial arts, dance and live music. It's a great weekend of fun for all ages, and entry is free.

Auckland Lantern Festival

South Island Lantern Festival

Friday, 22 - Sunday, 24 February, 2019
Avon River Precinct, Christchurch

One of Christchurch's largest and most popular family events, the South Island Lantern Festival takes over the Avon River Precinct, connecting the Avon River with Worcester Boulevard and Cathedral Square and lighting the downtown area with the vibrant colours of a myriad of lanterns. There is also music, performance, dance and food to celebrate the end of New Year festivities.

South Island Lantern Festival

Chinese New Year at SkyCity Auckland

SkyCity Auckland has been celebrating Chinese New Year for 22 years and it has become one of the biggest events of the year at the central city entertainment precinct.

The Sky Tower will glow red and gold for the duration of the two-week celebration beaming out across Auckland and welcoming around a quarter of a million people to the precinct to celebrate the new year in spectacular style. There will be a pop-up Chinese village and free entertainment in the Plaza at the base of the Sky Tower will include colourful cultural performances and activities such as lion and dragon dancers, Taiko drummers, acrobats and balloon artists.

On 8 February 2019, Federal Street will be closed for a Chinese New Year Festival - a full street festival with food, music, and entertainment.  

SkyCity Auckland

Canterbury - Chinese New Year stargazing 

At Lake Tekapo, in the South Island, Earth and Sky's world-famous stargazing tours give visitors a chance to experience Chinese New Year from a new perspective.  Jupiter shines bright during the Chinese New Year and is a very auspicious planet for the Chinese.

Ancient Chinese astronomers observed Jupiter’s orbit, noting that it took around 12 years to complete its full cycle. This led to the development of the 12 year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, with each year being associated with a different animal.

Earth and Sky

Waitangi, Bay of Islands - Exhibition

Being Chinese in Aotearoa: A photographic journey
15 December, 2018 - 31 March, 2019

An exhibition at Te Kōngahu Museum in Waitangi Treaty Grounds - the symbolic birthplace of the modern nation of Aotearoa New Zealand - celebrates the impact and 175-year long history of the Chinese community in New Zealand. Being Chinese in Aotearoa explores the rich and varied stories of Chinese New Zealanders. 

Through close to 100 compelling and rarely seen photographs, you can follow the story from the first settler Appo Hocton who arrived in 1842 to new migrants in the 2000s, from pioneering goldminers and merchants to architects and entrepreneurs, from early settlers to established communities.

The exhibition, which is on loan from Auckland War Memorial Museum, includes a series of comic-book artworks by renowned graphic artist Ant Sang (bro’Town, The Dharma Punks) and writer Helene Wong (Being Chinese: A New Zealander’s Story). The comics follow an 11-year-old boy and his grandmother as they meet some of Auckland’s most inspiring Chinese artists, entrepreneurs, musicians, athletes, and more.