As sunshine hours lengthen and the annual school and work calendar winds down in preparation for Christmas and the long summer holidays, New Zealand swings into outdoor mode with feasts, festivals and fun on the programme.
New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to officially adopt a nationally observed standard time and now, from the last Sunday in September to the first Sunday in April the following year, New Zealand Mean Time allows maximum enjoyment of extended daylight hours during the warmer months.
As the clocks spring forward, Kiwis jump into action tackling post-winter home and garden maintenance, and dusting off the family barbeque in preparation for many hours of outdoor living.
Enjoying the bounty of fresh New Zealand foods and quality wines is not only a domestic pleasure but also a national pastime that visitors are able to share on a variety of fronts.
New Zealand''s many wine-producing regions celebrate new release and vintage wines with special festivals that are internationally recognised.
One of the largest on the spring events calendar, Toast Martinborough is staged in the small but celebrated Wairarapa wine growing region north of Wellington. This year''s festival will be held on November 16, and each year the capacity 10,000 tickets sell out within hours.
Martinborough''s charming village atmosphere combined with award winning local wines, gourmet foods from top Wellington and Wairarapa restaurants, and live entertainment provides a winning recipe that makes the one-day event New Zealand''s premier food and wine festival.
Festival-goers walk the short distance between each of the 10 participating vineyards sampling and buying. Around 9,500 litres of wine are consumed each year at Toast Martinborough, and about 600 cases of wine are sold in the day.
Garden city racing
In the ''Garden City'' of Christchurch, on the South Island''s east coast, racing, fashion, agriculture and music combine forces for a festival of festivals that brings crowds of happy punters into the city for the annual New Zealand Cup and Show Week (November 7 - 16).
The huge spring festival takes over the English-style cathedral city filling the streets and venues with vibrant day and nightlife.
New Zealand Cup and Show Week features the country''s premier trotting, thoroughbred and greyhound racing events; an iconic Kiwi agricultural event, the Royal New Zealand Show (November 12 - 14); the Southern Amp music festival; International Rodeo; fashion shows add other high energy events.
Rhythm and Vines
Set in Gisborne, the North Island east coast town that''s the first place in the world to see the sun each day, Rhythm and Vines is a unique Kiwi summer festival experience. More than 20,000 people gather amongst the vines at picturesque Waiohika Estate for a three-day New Year celebration.
Four stages are set in the vineyard''s natural amphitheatre, and this year''s top acts include Franz Ferdinand and Jamie Liddell, as well as artists from Australia, Canada, USA, France and the United Kingdom. New Zealand acts include The Datsuns, Anika Moa and Anna Coddington.