New Zealand - Spring 2017 event highlights

September through to November means springtime in New Zealand, a beautiful time to visit, with lots happening around the country.

September through to November means springtime in New Zealand, a beautiful time to visit, with lots happening around the country. 

As the gardens of New Zealand burst into new colour, an event-filled calendar and the anticipation of long hot summer days puts a spring in everyone’s step. In Central Hawke's Bay (south of Hastings), join the crowds and stroll through the drifts of yellow daffodils at Taniwha Daffodils - 20-acres of golden blooms on the edge of State Highway 2. Pick your own bunch of 'daffs', ponder the beauty of 'a host of golden daffodils' or picnic amongst them for the cost of a small donation to charity. There's even a coffee shed on site for the month (1 September to 1 October according to the season).

Spring brings a rush of garden dates, art and food festivals, and multi-sport events across epic landscapes. This flourish of festivals offers multiple opportunities for visitors to revel in New Zealand's passion for great food, wine, music, art, fashion, design and the great outdoors. 

2017 sees a number of events celebrating noteworthy milestones. 

September 2017

The Christchurch Arts Festival - Christchurch
30 August – 17 September 2017

The Christchurch Arts Festival brings a mix of local, national and international performances to Christchurch. The festival runs every two years. In 2017 there will be more than 50 shows over 19 days featuring circus/cabaret, classical music, dance, theatre, comedy, and visual arts events.

Christchurch Arts Festival

Jazz in Martinborough - Wairarapa 
31 August - 3 September, 2017

Martinborough – just north of Wellington – is home to the highly successful Jazz in Martinborough festival. Now in its seventh year, the community event attracts top quality jazz acts. Some events are ticketed but 30 free events are also part of the 2017 programme. Martinborough in the Wairarapa wine region is well-known for its vineyards making it the perfect place to relax and unwind with a spot of jazz and a glass of wine. 

Jazz in Martinborough

Gay Ski Week Queenstown - Queenstown
2 – 9 September, 2017

Gay Ski Week Queenstown is a festival that encourages locals and visitors alike to come together and celebrate diversity. Jam-packed with amazing events, including cabaret nights, massive dance parties and night skiing, the festival is the perfect week for people to show their true selves in an accepting, supportive and fun community, and where better than Queenstown – New Zealand’s adventure capital and year-round alpine resort.

Gay Ski Week Queenstown

Whitianga Scallop Festival - The Coromandel
16 September, 2017

Fresh tasty seafood is synonymous with New Zealand and fresh tasty scallops are synonymous with the Coromandel Peninsula. Just across the Hauraki Gulf (or 2.5 hours by road) from Auckland, the Whitianga Scallop Festival is an annual sell-out. Now in its thirteenth year, the event has grown into one of New Zealand’s iconic seafood celebrations. Whitianga harbour provides the perfect backdrop for around 60 cuisine stands and some of New Zealand’s best performers. While scallops may be the star attraction, visitors also treat themselves to a selection of other foods, wines and beers, art and crafts. 

Whitianga Scallop Festival

World of WearableArt (WOW) - Wellington
21 September - 8 October, 2017

With mindblowing creations walking down the catwalk it’s not hard to see why Wellington’s World of WearableArt awards show is one of the most highly anticipated events on the international arts and entertainment calendar. Set against a backdrop of theatre, dance, music and colour, the fantasy and fabulousness of the World of WearableArt seems to get more elaborate as the years go by. The only event of its kind in the world, it is no surprise that the show brings in around 50,000 visitors each season. 

World of WearableArt (WOW)

Alexandra Blossom Festival - Central Otago
22 – 25 September, 2017

In the southern country town of Alexandra, this pretty community festival has been celebrating the arrival of spring for 61 years. The celebration is a nod to the town’s reputation as an important centre for the production of summer fruit (especially apricots and cherries) and fine sheep’s wool.

Alexandra Blossom Festival

Wellington Gardens Spring Festival - Wellington
24 September – 2 October, 2017

Wellington’s annual Spring Festival is centred on the Wellington Botanic Garden and the riot of colours in the tulip beds. See Wellington in full bloom at the Spring Festival and enjoy a wide range of events for garden-lovers, including guided walks and workshops.

Wellington Gardens Spring Festival

Harcourts Hawke's Bay Art Festival - Hawke's Bay
26 September – 8 October, 2017

The 2017 programme is jam-packed full of fabulousness, with more than 70 events from 52 acts over 13 incredible days. A record 11 international acts will form part of this year’s festival, with performers and crew coming from as far afield as Switzerland, Ireland, Canada and Australia. Alongside the international talent, this year’s festival will showcase eight acts featuring current or former Hawke’s Bay artists.

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival

Torpedo7 Spring Challenge – Geraldine and Auckland
29 September - 1 October & 13 – 15 October, 2017

The Spring Challenge is an all-women’s team adventure race. The race is for women of all sporting abilities giving them the chance to enjoy the outdoors, embrace the challenge and earn rewards that follow an 'adventure'. Up to 400-teams of three-women each take part in the adventure that includes rafting, mountain biking, hiking and navigation. Celebrating its 10th year in 2017, the South Island Challenge will take place in Geraldine, a pretty country town with an artistic streak in the Canterbury region. With such success in the past decade, the event has expanded taking to the North Island for the second time, with an additional event to be held in Auckland.  

Torpedo7 Spring Challenge

October 2017

Akaroa FrenchFest – Christchurch
6 - 8 October, 2017

Escape to picturesque Akaroa and immerse yourself in French culture, entertainment and romance as the village celebrates its unique French connection. Experience a theatrical drama on the main beach of Akaroa as well known Kiwi actors re-enact a 1840s ‘trading post’. Play historic games, tie nautical knots with sailors, join a traditional Maori weaving group or listen to tales from a Maori story teller.

Akaroa FrenchFest

It! Bay of Islands Food and Wine Festival - Paihia
7 October, 2017

Now in its eighth year, It! Bay of Islands Food and Wine Festival is a family friendly event mixing food, wine, entertainment and friendly locals in the resort town of Paihia, in the heart of the Bay of Islands. Alongside the mouth-watering edible offerings, there are Kiwi competitions, including oyster shucking and eating. Live music entertains the crowd all day long with the stage in sight from every corner of the festival. The Bay of Islands is three hours by road from Auckland and a popular holiday destination for boating, kayaking, walking and cultural experiences. 

It! Bay of Islands Food and Wine Festival

Kaikoura Seafest - Kaikoura 
7 October, 2017

With rich marine history, thrilling wildlife and Māori heritage, the Kaikoura Seafest is the place to experience the best of this coastal region. Kaikoura, on the eastern South Island, is New Zealand’s premier whale-watching destination. All the action is on land during Seafest and seafood in all forms takes centre stage. This unique Kiwi festival serves up fine food, chef demonstrations and entertainment from the surrounding Canterbury region. 

Kaikoura Seafest

NZCT South Island Masters Games - Nelson
4 October - 8 October, 2017

Following the success of the World Masters Games in New Zealand in 2017, what better way to keep the party going than taking part at the NZCT South Island Masters Games in Nelson. The Games attract a mix of national and international athletes, as well as athletes of all levels, ages and abilities. The eclectic mix of 50-plus sports includes cycling, archery, softball, snooker, and this year will introduce darts, swing ball and fast 5 netball. 

NZCT South Island Masters Games

Nelson Arts Festival - Nelson
11 - 27 October, 2017

Nelson, at the top of the South Island, is a creativity hub and home to many artists and performers. The Nelson Arts Festival celebrates this creativity with a huge array of local and international acts and has been doing so for over 20 years. The event showcases theatre, music, dance, visual arts and plenty more. 

Nelson Arts Festival

Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival – The Hermitage, Mt Cook Village
13 - 15 October, 2017

The Starlight Festival celebrates the creation of the southern hemisphere’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, in the Mackenzie Basin and at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park in the central South Island. The three-day Starlight Festival combines scientific, educational and cultural events – from lectures and concerts to a photographic exhibition, and is targeted at students, family groups, astro-tourists and stargazers from overseas.

Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival

Auckland Diwali Festival - Auckland
14 – 15 October, 2017

Celebrate Auckland’s vibrant Indian culture at the Diwali Festival in Aotea Square and see the city come to life with the sights, sounds and flavours of India. Locals of all ages turn out in tens of thousands for this annual celebration of Auckland’s ethnic diversity - a chance to enjoy and experience traditional and contemporary Indian culture in many exciting forms.

Auckland Diwali Festival

Westport Whitebait Festival - Westport
20 – 22 October, 2017

If you love whitebait, this is the festival for you. With loads of delicious, fresh whitebait on offer in a variety of forms, along with live music and community stalls. A fun, family-friendly, relaxed and truly Kiwi experience of entertainment, shopping and culinary delights. Westport is the heart of the Buller district at the northern end of the South Island’s West Coast region.

Westport Whitebait Festival

Queenstown Jazz Festival - Queenstown
20 – 23 October, 2017

The Queenstown Jazz Festival, now in its 39th year, is held over the three-day Labour Weekend. The Festival plays host to more than 40 bands and 150 plus musicians, including some of the finest national and international jazz musicians, appearing on outdoor stages and in venues in the town and the surrounding area. The festival is widely recognised as one of the most accessible and diverse jazz music festivals of its kind in Australasia.

Queenstown Jazz Festival

Diwali Festival of Lights - Wellington
23 October, 2017

Diwali - also known as the 'Festival of Lights' - is Wellington's local Indian and South East Asian communities' most vibrant cultural celebration. The lighting of lamps at this ancient Hindu festival symbolises the triumph of light over darkness and the renewal of life. Diwali showcases contemporary and traditional Indian music and dancing, food and crafts, exhibitions and workshops, and children's activities.

Wellington Diwali Festival of Lights

Christmas Country Fete - Canterbury
26 October, 2017

New Zealand’s biggest and most popular country fete attracts thousands of locals and visitors for a great day out in the countryside. With more than 200 stalls showcasing the best in New Zealand art, furniture, jewellery, fashion, garden products, body care, kids’ gifts plus loads of fresh, local food and wine, it’s a great opportunity to stock up before the festive season. The 26th Christmas Country Fete will take place in beautiful Glenmark Domain, 50 minutes north of Christchurch.

Christmas Country Fete

The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship - Wellington
26 – 29 October, 2017

The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC), the most important amateur golf tournament in the region, will be staged at the stunning Royal Wellington Golf Club. The winner will earn an invitation to the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club as well as The 147th Open at Carnoustie in Scotland. Competition will play out with 100-plus amateurs from 41 countries set to compete over 72 holes.

Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Championship

Art in A Garden - Hawarden, North Canterbury
26 - 29 October, 2017

In the tranquil setting of Flaxmere - a garden of national significance - Art in A Garden is a place for established and emerging New Zealand artists, painters and sculptures to showcase their work. The event, now in its 13th year, is a much celebrated indoor-outdoor exhibition. Sculptures sit amidst trees, lawns, ponds and rose gardens while paintings, glass, ceramics and jewellery are exhibited in the restored farm barn gallery. Flaxmere is a 60-minute drive north of Christchurch through the Waipara wine region. 

Art in A Garden

Taranaki Garden Spectacular – New Plymouth
27 October – 5 November, 2017

The Taranaki Garden Spectacular - an annual 10-day festival on the North Island’s western tip - is one of New Zealand’s longest running festivals.  2017 will mark the 30th year of the popular spring garden festival. Of the 45 gardens, 40 are private gardens open exclusively for the duration of the festival. Towering Mt Taranaki provides the perfect backdrop for the festival which combines food, fashion, architecture and sustainability alongside richly assorted gardens. Taranaki was named one of the top ten regions to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet, and this event will be one of the reasons why. 

Taranaki Garden Spectacular 

ASB Auckland Marathon - Auckland
29 October, 2017

Hailed as ‘Not just a run…but an experience’, the ASB Auckland Marathon is considered one of New Zealand’s premier road races. The programme features a full and a half marathon, a 12km traverse, a 5km challenge and a kids marathon. The highlight is the run over the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge, involving a climb of 33 metres to the highest point with views across the Waitemata Harbour to Auckland city – a unique experience as this is the only time the Harbour Bridge is open to foot traffic. With options to suit everyone, it is the perfect opportunity to see what Auckland has to offer. 

ASB Auckland Marathon

November 2017

The New Zealand Cider Festival - Nelson
4 November 2017

At Nelson’s Founders Heritage Park, New Zealand cider makers will come together to show off their best and latest tipples. A celebration of diversity – whether that’s ingredients, producers and consumers – there’ll be a chance to sample both traditional and ‘new world’ varieties in a relaxed festival environment with gourmet dining and great entertainment.

The New Zealand Cider Festival

Nelmac Garden Marlborough - Marlborough
9 - 12 November, 2017

Nelmac Garden Marlborough is a colourful celebration showcasing the best of Marlborough gardens. Visitors to the festival, classed as ‘New Zealand’s Premier Garden Event’, enjoy garden tours, themed workshops and social events. Full or half-day garden tours visit a diverse mix of compact urban-designed gardens and stunning country estates. The festival finishes with a chance to experience some of the best and freshest New Zealand produce – including fine Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and fresh local seafoods – at the Sunday Garden Fete. 

Nelmac Garden Marlborough

FAWC! Food and Wine Classic – Hawke's Bay
3 – 12 November, 2017

FAWC - Food and Wine Classic - is a series of one-off, out-of-the-box food and wine events set in lovely locations throughout Hawke’s Bay. This event is for people who seriously love to eat and experience the best wine and cuisine the region has to offer. The Hawke’s Bay region is one of New Zealand’s top grape-growing regions, known for producing a range of varieties but best known for Bordeaux-blend reds and Chardonnay. Twice a year FAWC! (there’s also a winter series) is a great opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal with chefs, food producers, winemakers and all the clever people that make up New Zealand’s food and wine scene.

Food and Wine Classic

Sculpture on the Peninsula - Christchurch
10 – 12 November, 2017

Sculpture on the Peninsula is a contemporary sculpture exhibition held every two years on Banks Peninsula, and now the largest outdoor sculpture event in the South Island. The exhibition is located on Loudon Farm at Teddington and 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of this popular event which attracts both leading and emerging sculptors. All work on display is for sale and proceeds from the event go to charity.

Sculpture on the Peninsula

New Zealand Cup and Show Week - Christchurch
11 - 18 November, 2017

New Zealand Cup and Show Week opens on Saturday 11 November 2017 for a week of excitement and action on and off the field – from horseracing, trotting and greyhounds to fashion, fun, food, wine and live entertainment. Whether you are looking for race or show action, or you just want to enjoy all that Christchurch and the Canterbury region has to offer, New Zealand Cup and Show Week has something for all.

New Zealand Cup and Show Week

Canterbury A & P Show - Christchurch
15 - 17  November, 2017

Country comes to town for the Canterbury A&P Association’s annual show, a much-loved event that has been delighting visitors since 1863. With over 3000 animals on site and equestrian entries, 600 trade exhibitors, feature marquees and pavilions, as well live music, entertainment, thrilling rides and gourmet food and wine, the A&P show gives visitors a chance to experience rural Kiwi life and a platform for farmers to showcase their work. 

Canterbury A & P Show

The Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival - Dunedin
11 November, 2017

Celebrate the start of summer with the best brews and food from around the country at the Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival. 2017 marks the festival’s fifth anniversary. Micro-brewing and the development of specialty crafted beers is now a booming industry in New Zealand, and the Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival is an opportunity to taste-test the product. The festival takes place inside Forsyth Barr Stadium, New Zealand’s only indoor rugby stadium. An annual homebrew competition runs in conjunction with the event so amateur brewers can showcase their beers alongside some of New Zealand’s best brands and local gourmet foods.

The Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival 

Tarawera Trail Marathon & 50K – Rotorua
11 November, 2017

Rotorua’s geothermal landscape goes on show throughout the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50K. Kicking off in the spectacular Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, the course traverses the towering Whakarewarewa Forest, the shores of Green Lake, Lake Tarawera and Rotomahana, and finishes right under Mt Tarawera at Hot Water Beach, where you can soak in the naturally heated geothermal waters. All events are open to both runners and walkers. 

Tarawera Trail Marathon & 50K

Air New Zealand Queenstown International Marathon – Queenstown
18 November, 2017

Picture perfect Queenstown, with its spectacular alpine backdrop, sets the scene for the Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon – now in its third year. Featuring a 42km, 21km, 10km and even a 3km kids’ race, the course navigates the Queenstown Lakes region including Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown, Lakes Hayes, Shotover River, Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown Gardens and finally finishes in the heart of Queenstown. It’s easy running on a mainly flat course, with a few undulations to keep it interesting and a mix of running terrain from smooth hard packed trails to roads.

Queenstown Marathon 

Toast Martinborough - Wairarapa
19 November, 2017

In lovely Martinborough – a village surrounded by boutique vineyards - ‘Toast’ is a celebration of all this bountiful region has to offer in food, wine and entertainment. Just north of Wellington, ‘Toast Martinborough’ takes over nine boutique vineyards. Visitors can walk or catch free shuttle buses that travel the route, and the event offers festival-goers a unique opportunity to taste wines from both current and past vintages. 

Toast Martinborough

Ocean Vine Hop - Marlborough
25 November, 2017

New for 2017, the Marlborough Ocean Vine Hop is designated as a R18 festival of gastronomic delights combining seafood, wine and beer in the beautiful Marlborough region - New Zealand's largest wine growing region and the home of world-renowned Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Ocean Vine Hop

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge - Taupo
25 November, 2017

The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is New Zealand’s largest cycling event, attracting entrants from all over the world. The annual event its 41st year and has gained recognition for the being one of the world’s best recreational rides, attracting around 8,000 riders to the start line. The premier event is perhaps best known for its 160km Round The Lake – a one lap circumnavigation of Australasia’s largest lake– with other categories catering to cyclists and mountain bikers of all abilities and fitness levels.

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

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