The largest of the art and cultural events held across the country is the biennial International Arts Festival, held in Wellington one year and in Auckland the following year. Both festivals feature classical music, jazz, pop, opera, traditional performances from around the world and contemporary New Zealand artists, including Māori dance and modern ballet.
The World of Wearable Art Awards (WOW) attracts hundreds of entries from all over the world. The creativity and art of the designers, who use the human body as their canvas, is limited only by their imaginations. This spectacular show is staged in September and October, and is so popular that it runs for more than two weeks.
Food and wine festivals are scheduled around New Zealand from October to March (spring through to autumn). The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival in March serves arguably the wackiest selection of foods in the world. Seagull eggs, purple Māori potato, worms, native huhu grubs, pigs' ears, mako shark, eel and titi (muttonbird) are just a few of the "delicacies" on offer.
Adventure races include the Coast to Coast, a one- and two-day event across 243 kilometres (150 miles) of South Island terrain, and the Ironman New Zealand triathlon in Taupo.
Garden and flower festivals are held in spring, summer and early autumn. The Taranaki Garden Spectacular, showcasing some of New Zealand’s most stunning private and public gardens, is held over 10 days in October and November.
Te Matatini kapa haka festival, held every two years, attracts thousands of visitors to experience the power, beauty and grace of Māoridom’s finest exponents of haka (dance).
Māori New Year
Matariki, the Māori New Year, is celebrated all over the country in mid-winter during a month-long festival of events.
Matariki refers to the star cluster Pleiades (or Mata Ariki: the eyes of God), which becomes visible in the eastern sky after the first new moon in June.
Traditionally, Matariki was a time to give thanks as the natural world regenerated and another season began. The food stores were full and people gathered to welcome the new year's planting season, with ceremonial ritual, singing and feasting. Many towns and regions have developed Matariki festivals to celebrate their Māori heritage.
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