Six of the best in eventful New Zealand

Six months, six regions and six very different events happening in New Zealand over spring 2019 and early 2020.

Six months, six regions and six very different events ought to have visitors throwing the dice to help decide their travel plans to New Zealand over spring / summer 2019 / 20.

Wellington’s World of Wearable Art show is first up in a diverse half dozen happenings that you will only ever experience in New Zealand. 

From cycle racing through the Central North Island’s geothermal marvels, marathon running around Queenstown’s stunning alpine lakes region, teeing off in an international golf open at one of the world’s most scenic courses to festive wining and dining in Hawke’s Bay’s most famous wineries ... New Zealand is an eventful place where a standard occasion becomes a stand out event thanks to out-of-the-ordinary venues and a creative, “can do” Kiwi culture.

Six key events held throughout spring and early 2017 will be spread across New Zealand’s popular tourist regions of Rotorua, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

1. World Of WearableArt (WOW), Wellington

26 September - 13 October, 2019

Quite simply, there is only one word that can sum up this event and that's ... WOW. The World of WearableArt (WOW) is a spectacular stage show best described as “mardi gras meets haute couture". And, the only way to fully understand the concept is to see the show yourself and marvel at the creative genius of Dame Suzie Moncrieff, the woman who came up with the unique idea of taking art off the wall to adorn the human body. 

What began more than 30 years ago as a small and humble, home-grown event in the northern South Island town of Nelson, has become New Zealand’s largest art show - a 17-day customer drama extravaganza mixing innovative art, creative design and fashion that's taken to dramatic levels by the involvement of International visual effects wizards Weta Workshop. 

Now staged in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital of arts and culture, WOW has become an international design event attracting established designers and new talent from around the world. The 2019 awards show (31st season) features 108 designs by 115 designers from around the world including New Zealand (44 finalists) and a record 22 countries that sees, among others, Kazakhstan, Czechia and Belarus lining up along side Australia, China, the US and UK. The prizes include NZ$187,500 in prize money, internships with WETA Workshop in Wellington and Cirque de Soleil in Canada, and the opportunity to display five garments at the exclusive Residency Experience showroom in Los Angeles.  

Full event info: 

2. Summer FAWC (Food & Wine Classic), Hawke’s Bay

1 - 10 November, 2019

Set in one of the southern hemisphere's most productive regions, the FAWC Summer series is a delectable slice of regional New Zealand that will celebrate its eighth birthday in November 2019. Along with the fine full-bodied red wines that consistently attract international recognition, the Hawke's Bay region - on the eastern coast of the North Island - produces everything from lamb and beef to seafood, dairy, stone fruit and olives making it a perfect spot to host a food and wine festival.

Rather than a one-stop destination experience, FAWC is a 10-day festival packed with 75-plus events that play out across the entire region ranging into vineyards, country estates, olive groves, markets and dining establishments in the gorgeous Art Deco cities of Napier and Hastings. There's a culinary experience for everyone from exclusive dinners with the winemaker to long lunches al fresco and picnics. Spread your picnic blanket on the grass, then put your picnic together as you meet local producers at the Hawke's By Farmers' Market. Dine inside and out in lovely surroundings with food that will satisfy all your temporal desires.

FAWC! Food and Wine Classic is a seasonal event held twice a year in Hawke's Bay. Tickets for Summer FAWC 2019 are on sale from mid-September. There are 7000 places for events with ticket prices ranging from cooking classes to vineyard picnics, beer appreciation days and themed dinners of all descriptions. 

Full event info:

3. Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon

16 November, 2019

The Air New Zealand Queenstown Marathon has quickly become one of the world’s must do marathons. The marathon’s tag line is ‘Flat Out Beautiful’ and it is just that, an undulating course starting in the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown, passing by rivers, lakes and striking alpine scenery non-stop all the way to the finish line in Queenstown.  

The course is a mix of road and trails. Most of the off-road sections are held on the ever-expanding New Zealand Cycle Trail network. Not only are the trails easier on the knees, they offer the perfect post-marathon recovery ride. So rent a bike the following day and cruise the trails around the Wakatipu basin.

Last year the event sold out of race entries and had a large international contingent in the starting line-up. It would be wise to put personal bests aside for this one and just cruise along the incredible trail and soak up the scenery. 

Full event info:

4. Pioneer MTB Race – Southern Alps  

1 - 6 December, 2019

Now in its fourth edition, The Pioneer MTB Race has earned a name for itself as a top mountain bike event. The 6-day event changes course each year, following in the tracks of some of New Zealand's earliest pioneers. Organisers say that 2019 will be as challenging as ever with guaranteed stunning landscapes, varied terrain and good doses of single track and epic climbs. Add to that, the traditional Kiwi hospitality at the stopover villages set up in breath-taking locations.

The 2019 course will cover 450kms with 15000m of climbing through back country New Zealand. Local and international riders must tackle the race in teams of two, staying no more than 2 minutes apart for the entire race. But, while the ride is challenging, the reward is worth it as riders cruise along backcountry trails not usually open to the public and climb to ridgelines with incredible views. Competitor numbers are limited so enter early to avoid disappointment.

Full event info:   

5. New Zealand Golf Open, Queenstown

27 February - 1 March, 2020

Teeing off late February 2020, the annual INew Zealand Golf Open will be played across two of Queenstown’s best golf courses, Millbrook Golf Resort and The Hills with the former as the premier host. 

Millbrook Resort, set among 500 acres / 200 hectares of breathtaking beauty with 360-degree mountain views, provides luxury accommodation, exceptional restaurants and a 27-hole championship golf course which is co-hosting the BMW NZ Open.

The Hills sits in a picture-perfect setting of a glacial valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Not only one of the most dramatic golf courses in New Zealand, The Hills is also one of the most challenging. The venue is as much a destination for spectators as competitors and is lauded by those who have played it before.

Some of Australasia’s and the world’s best golfers play across the two golf courses for four days as they vie for the title. The Southern Alps provide an incredible backdrop to the rolling fairways and manicured greens. The New Zealand Open has the perfect home in Queenstown as the region boasts some of the country’s best golf courses including Jacks Point and the rustic Arrowtown Golf Course. 

Full event info: 

6. Crankworx Rotorua

2 – 8 March, 2020

Mountain biking continues to grow in popularity in New Zealand as a hobby for locals and an adventure activity for tourists. Crankworx can certainly take some of the credit for that and in 2020 the global event will return to Rotorua for its fifth edition. In 2019, the now hugely popular participant and spectator events attracted a total 46,000 visitors to the city while another 15.2 million spectactors viewed from afar. 

Crankworx sees the best of the best in mountain biking battle it out in downhill, slopestyle and endurance events over five days of competition, concerts, and mountain bike culture. Rotorua’s Gravity Park is one of New Zealand’s best mountain biking facilities and the first year-round gondola assisted bike lift.

With events in Canada and France, Crankworx is truly an international event and Rotorua’s geothermal landscape makes it a unique environment for the athletes to compete in. 

Full event info: