New Zealand may be blessed with spectacular scenery and world-class food and wine but the country is also brimming with events and itineraries to delight every visitor. From mud and snow (not together) to the arts and beer, here are 17 fantastic reasons to visit Aotearoa New Zealand in 2017.
1. The Lions Tour
Even though there’s no Rugby World Cup in 2017, The British & Irish Lions Series visit to New Zealand in June and July is the next best thing. The Lions will play 10 matches with fixtures in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
2. The 9th World Masters Games
Featuring more athletes than the Olympics and reputed to be the world’s largest multi-sport event, World Masters Games are coming to Auckland in 2017 (21 – 30 April). With minimum ages for each discipline ranging from 27 to 35 years, the sports include archery, athletics, badminton, canoeing, cycling, surf life saving and weightlifting.
3. Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ
The Audi Quattro Winter Games is set to take place from 25 August – 10 September. Attracting top-class competitors from the Winter Olympics, Paralympics and X Games, the Winter Games are considered one of the top five winter sports events in the world and the only one of their kind in the southern hemisphere.
4. Rotorua Mud Festival
Rotorua is best known for its Māori culture and rich sense of history, its many lakes and bubbling geysers. Now the city’s famed hot mud springs get their time in the sun thanks to the inaugural Mud Festival to be held in December 2017. The festival is an international partnership with South Korea’s Boryeong City which attracts more than three million people to its own mud festival.
5. TRUE Food & Yoga
The new True Food and Yoga studio is the latest arrival in Auckland’s burgeoning wellness scene. Set in a heritage-listed building looking across the sparkling Waitemata Harbour, this magnificent venue in a former seafood restaurant is now in the hands of the personable Nic and Kelly Watt.
6. Disney's Pete’s Dragon movie locations
Disney's Pete’s Dragon is a family adventure film about a young boy and his dragon named Elliot. Starring Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard, it showcases spectacular New Zealand locations like Queenstown, Wellington, Rotorua and Southland. So why not see the film then fashion your New Zealand itinerary to take in some of the landscapes as seen from Elliot’s dragon’s-eye view?
7. Vector Wero Whitewater Park
Dip your toes in Wero Whitewater Park - New Zealand’s first purpose-built whitewater playground, a $37-million marvel found in South Auckland’s Manukau City. With a Grade 3-4 river, as well as a tamer Grade 2 river, activities are accessible to people of all ages and abilities. If you’ve always wanted to have a go at rafting, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), this is the ideal place.
8. Ride the Alps 2 Ocean
The secret is out with New Zealand’s new Alps 2 Ocean Cycleway included in the Lonely Planet ‘Epic Bike Rides of the World’. This 301km multi-day cycle trail is an achievable adventure set in an epic landscape that travels from the mountains of the magnificent Southern Alps, past alpine lakes and down a river valley all the way to the sea.
9. New 5-star luxury in wine country
The Marlborough Lodge is a grand country estate on 16 acres of secluded parklands, located in the heart of the famous Marlborough wine region and billed as “the ultimate retreat in New Zealand’s gourmet province”. Ten contemporary suites are elegantly designed to ensure every comfort while there’s an in-house bar and a stunning private dining room serving fresh local cuisine. Explore the region’s gourmet delights cruising on a luxury launch or a private gourmet wine and food tour.
Heading to Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds in February 2017, Meatstock is a festival of meat and music. Featuring a menu of smoked, grilled and barbequed meats, cold beers and loud music, Meatstock is a spinoff of the successful Sydney-based venture.
11. Paepae in the Park
With the release of the heart-warming documentary Poi E in 2016, the small Taranaki town of Patea in the North Island found itself back in the spotlight. Patea was made famous in 1984 thanks to the international success of the song “Poi E”, a tune that saved the town’s fortunes following the closure of the freezing works. Nestled in the shadow of soaring Mt Taranaki, Patea comes alive every year on the weekend closest to Waitangi Day (February 6) with Paepae in the Park, a festival of music, food and fun.
12. 30th Anniversary of NZ Cycle Classic
Drive over the rugged hills of the Rimutakas from Wellington and you’ll be rewarded with views of the Wairarapa district, a region of rich farmland and award winning vineyards. But the Wairarapa is also home to an annual international cycling event, The New Zealand Cycle Classic and in January of 2017, the race will be celebrating 30 years of two-wheeled fun.
13. Dunedin Street Art Trail
Famous for its Scottish heritage, student culture and bracing climate at the head of the Otago Harbour, Dunedin is also home to New Zealand's first public art gallery and art society. The Dunedin Street Art Trail is a 90-minute walk that meanders from the harbour to Queens Gardens. Art lovers can either download the map or collect a printed edition from venues around the city.
14. Rugby League World Cup
New Zealand will welcome a horde of Rugby League fans in 2017, with seven major matches in the Rugby League World Cup 2017 being hosted in four different cities across the country.
Beer is big business in New Zealand these days, with imaginatively crafted boutique beers springing up all over the country. To celebrate the amber liquid, Wellington hosts the 16th Beervana, New Zealand’s most popular beer festival. With brewers descending on the capital from sunny Northland to the deepest nooks of Southland, you’ll discover creative beer made with imaginative ingredients including lemongrass and lychees.
16. Three New Zealand seafood festivals
Seafood – or kai moana as it’s known in the Māori language – is one of the most delectable pillars of New Zealand’s culinary culture. From mussels to paua (abalone), scallops to crayfish, immersing yourself in the country’s oceanic delights is not only a must but, thanks to the numerous seafood celebrations, relatively simple.
17. The Auckland Arts Festival
Between 8 - 26 March, New Zealand’s largest city will be buzzing with a huge range of performances at The Auckland Arts Festival. From dance to poetry and visual arts to circus, the Festival is one of the biggest arts festivals in the southern hemisphere drawing performers and audiences from around the world. The multi-disciplinary spectacular features as many free events as ticketed including lots of family-friendly offerings to keep younger audiences transfixed.