Discover the Maori culture and the traditions that live on in this people through a journey to New Zealand full of majestic landscapes and the most modern tourist attractions. If anything defines New Zealand, it is its wild nature. This is a green Eden far from the bustling world made up of two large islands and others which are smaller but equally beautiful.
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Events and festivals in New Zealand
The popular festivals in New Zealand are a true reflection of the cultural mix between the Māori culture and the western culture of the British descendants. Although there are festivities which are clearly original to the original inhabitants of the country, other events are due to British customs.
In addition to numerous festivals and concerts, the main popular festivals in New Zealand are events which you cannot miss if you visit the country. For most of the year, New Zealanders celebrate different traditional festivals which are typical of the New Zealand people. In these celebrations, music, dance, and traditions are the protagonists. Let's see, month by month, which are the most important festivities.
The month of January is full of festivals in the different regions of New Zealand. One of the most popular festivals is the Auckland Folk Festival, which is held in early January. For three days, the city is filled with the best music and the best vibrations.
In New Plymouth, for example, until 24 January, the Festival of Lights takes place, a festival full of lights, live music and traditional food. Don't miss the Wellington Pasifika Festival on January 17, a multitudinous festival with different musical activities, art and craft shows and local gastronomy. Also in Wellington, you can participate in the Summer City, which runs from January to March and hosts hundreds of free concerts.
At the end of January, from the 24th to the 26th, in Auckland, the Seafood Festival is celebrated, a perfect time to enjoy seafood accompanied by a good New Zealand wine and many entertainment activities. Also on 26th January, and also in Auckland, you can participate in the most international music at Saint Jerome's Festival.
On the sixth of February, Waitangi Day takes place, undoubtedly one of the most important events in New Zealand, as it is the National Holiday. During the celebrations, speeches are held in the different Kiwi communities. Ceremonies and traditional dance and song events are also organised.
On the other hand, for fans of rugby, the national sport of New Zealand, between the 6th and the 7th of February, the best events related to this sport are celebrated. But don't worry, because if sport isn't your thing, you have the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival on February 14, a perfect occasion to try New Zealand's culinary delicacies.
We continue with the popular festivals in New Zealand, to attend more festivals full of music and colour, such as the Auckland Lantern Festival on 26 February. A little earlier, on 13 February, the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival begins for lovers of art in all its expressions. Two full weeks of activities of music, art, circus, dance, cinema, theatre and literature. It is undoubtedly one of the most important and popular events in New Zealand.
During the month of March you can discover another of New Zealand's most cultural popular festivals: the New Zealand International Arts Festival, although this takes place every two years. This lasts all month, and hosts a variety of live music performances, plays, recitals, dances and many more cultural events.
Also in March, but getting closer to tradition, if you visit the country you will see the Hamilton Shearing Sheep Competition. The shearers compete in dexterity and speed, to get the best wool in the country.
At the end of April, on the 25th, New Zealanders celebrate the Day of the Soldier, or ANZAC day, which commemorates the participants of the army which participated in the First World War. It is an event marked by parades of war veterans, to whom they pay tribute and national recognition.
If you like sports, you have to attend one of the most important New Zealand events for runners, the Rotorua Marathon. What better way to discover the beautiful Lake Rotorua than by participating as a runner. A competition which starts in the government gardens and crosses the Hamurana hills, to return to Rotorua.
June, July and August
During the New Zealand winter, on 6th June, the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II is celebrated. A decidedly patriotic party for the British descendants. In addition to this official holiday, in July, there are many other cultural and sporting events, such as the Queenstown Winter Festival.
For fashion lovers, Fashion Week takes place in August, attracting thousands of visitors, and is also surrounded by other events such as exhibitions, music, and gastronomic samples, as well as fashion shows.
September, October and November
At the end of the New Zealand winter, we will be able to attend or even participate in an international competition of trout fishermen, which takes place during the month of September. We can also sign up for the Auckland International Marathon or enjoy the Taranaki Festival of New Plymouth, in October. In November, we will be able to see the livestock exhibition of Christchurch or celebrate the Day of the Gold Seekers, in Otago.
We end the year with another of New Zealand's popular festivities: Christmas and the New Year. As in many other countries, New Zealanders also celebrate the Christian Christmas. But it is the New Year festivity which takes on special relevance. Throughout the country, there are hundreds of outdoor events, both traditional and modern, lasting several days.
As you can see, New Zealand is one of the countries with more events and popular parties which you can discover.LEARN MORE
Food in New Zealand
To find out what to eat in New Zealand, the first thing you must take into account is that, being made up of islands, fish is the protagonist, as well as seafood. However, meat is also part of the cuisine, and enjoys more international fame.
The cuisine of New Zealand has its own style, especially that provided by the Māori people. Lamb, venison and pork are used to prepare typical dishes, as well as all kinds of seafood, molluscs and fish. The kumara, a typical New Zealand sweet potato, is also used, as well as the feijoa, the tamarillo, and of course the kiwi.
You have to know that dinner is the main meal according to Māori custom, so if you want to live a true New Zealand experience, save your hunger for the end of the day. Otherwise, you, of course, have hundreds of options in all restaurants in the country at any time of the day.
Another option, especially if you go in summer, is to sign up for one of the many barbecues which are organised randomly throughout the country. Good for roasting meat or fish, the Kiwi are a population who love to enjoy food outdoors. But let's see what the typical dishes to eat in New Zealand are which you cannot miss.
For more than 2000 years, the Māori have been using this cooking technique which steams food in a hole in the ground, where they introduce hot stones. With this technique, they cook both meat and fish, together with vegetables, which are left for hours underground until they are perfectly cooked.
Just seeing how they do it is already an experience, so if you have the chance, don't forget to try one of the typical New Zealand dishes with more history.
Another dish to eat in New Zealand, after Hangi, is Hogget. This time it is roast lamb, which is prepared in the oven with potatoes, vegetables and herbs.
It is served accompanied by an exquisite mint sauce, which makes premium-quality lamb meat even more tasty. Remember that New Zealand is famous for the quality of its merino sheep wool; in this case, the lamb of the same species is the protagonist of the kitchen.
We continue with lamb as the main ingredient, but this time to make a delicious stew based on vegetables and tubers, together with the meat. To prepare this dish from New Zealand cuisine, meat is fried, and vegetables are sautéed. It is watered down with red wine sauce and abundant rosemary.
The result is a dish with a delicious taste which, for lovers of meat, will soon become their favorite food.
With this bombastic name, a dish is prepared which has nothing to do with geese, which are scarce in these latitudes. In fact, the dish consists of a roast lamb leg, cooked with honey and dried fruits.
To make it, marinate the meat in red wine, so that it takes on the colour of cooked goose, hence the name. Once the process is finished, butter, onion, parsley and breadcrumbs are spread on it and it is put in the oven. Without a doubt another of the dishes of New Zealand cuisine which will delight the most carnivorous.
Fish and chips
Of course the British couldn't go without importing their famous fish and chips, which has become the main choice of New Zealanders when it comes to choosing a fast food dish. To make it, fresh fish such as snapper, hoki or snapper is used, and you will be able to taste it at any place in practically the whole country.
If you're looking for a different dish to eat in New Zealand, you have to try whitebait, which is coated in egg and fried with tomatoes. The whitebait is, in fact, a fish which is characteristic of New Zealand's rivers in the humid zones.
Here fish fans have the opportunity to try one of the native species of the country. Of course, we haven't talked about other species such as sole, lobster, langoustines or hoki, small fish which are the most consumed nationwide.
In addition to the main dishes, desserts and fruits, specifically kiwi, could also be considered as a typical dish. New Zealand kiwifruit is exported all over the world, and is consumed nationwide on a regular basis.
In turn, the most characteristic dessert of New Zealand is the Pavlova Cake, a confectionery speciality consisting of meringue coated with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Its name is due to a famous Russian dancer, and is especially consumed on holidays. Other desserts are the Hokey Pokey, a kind of fluffy caramel toffee, the Lamingtons or glazed biscuits, or chocolate cookies, known as Afghan Biscuits.
To end this journey through the palate, we can try one of its famous wines, such as Marlborough sauvignon blanc, Gisborne chardonnay, or one of the most recognised cabernets worldwide cultivated in Waiheke Island. And now that you know what to eat in New Zealand, organise your entire route well. Bon appetit!LEARN MORE
Shopping in New Zealand
Pay attention to everything there is to buy in New Zealand during your trip to the country of Māori culture. The land of the long white cloud belonging to Oceania offers unique souvenirs as a reminder of your trip.
New Zealand is a country where art and handicrafts are closely linked to the Māori. Wood carvings, Jade Jewellery, moulded glass, and daily symbols of the kiwi culture are just some of the country’s typical souvenirs. In addition, there is high-quality clothing from world-renowned New Zealand designers and unique food products.
Let’s see what to buy in New Zealand and which are the most essential typical products to take home with you as a souvenir or gift.
Māori handicrafts are one of the best souvenirs to buy in New Zealand. The work of the Māori artisans stands out above all in the art of weaving and wood carvings. In this sense, the Raranga, is a tradition of highly skilled weavers who make baskets, capes, rugs, decorative objects and clothing.
On the other hand, the wood carvings or Whakairo, which correspond to men, who make delicate sculptures, decorations, tools, weapons, canoes and even musical instruments. Each object has its own story and if you want to buy a good quality item, avoid souvenir shops and visit the National School of Te Puia that you will find in Rotorua.
Pounamu, jade jewellery
Jade is one of the most important typical products to buy in New Zealand, not just for its beauty, but also for the value it holds for the Māori people. The west coast of the South Island is the place where Māori jade comes from, which presents different marks and colours depending on the river it is extracted from.
The Māori tradition has used jade for centuries to make tools and jewellery of a high value. In the case of jewellery, many of them are full of meaning, they were passed on from parents to their children with a strong value of social status. This is the case with the Hei Tiki, or necklaces in the shape of foetus, which is linked to fertility.
Paua, sea snail shells
The Māori people harvest these enormous sea snails both as a food, and to make precious jewellery with their shells. Harvesting is controlled by law and they cannot be taken out of the country, except for as a souvenir.
With the Paua shells, the artisans turn them into beautiful ornaments of an iridescent blueish colour, mixed with green and purple. The tradition uses the paua as eyes in the wood carvings, they are associated with the eyes of ancestors.
Another of the typical products of New Zealand is wool, which you will find throughout the country. Although the sheep originally come from Spain, they have evolved in this country, creating their own characteristics.
The wool from Merino sheep, as this variety is known, is used to make mountain clothing. The result is a very high quality garment because of its strength, softness, its breathability, for its perfect thermal insulation and its ability to absorb moisture.
Clothing from prestigious designers
If you love fashion, this is one of the star products to buy in New Zealand. World renowned designers such as Karen Walker, Zambesi, World or Nom*D, are the most obvious examples of cutting edge and imaginative fashion.
Other brands like Starfish, Huffer, or the designs of Kate Sylvester or Anah Stretton will give you a more than pleasant surprise. Make space in your suitcase because you are going to fall in love with the ‘made in New Zealand’ fashion.
On the other hand, as well as handicrafts and clothing, there are also souvenirs of New Zealand for gastronomy lovers: coffee, honey or chocolate are just a few examples.
If you love coffee, don’t hesitate to take some samples of this organic fair trade coffee home with you. As well as being a Premium quality hand roasted coffee, part of the earnings go towards a good cause. A percentage of the sales is invested in a conservation project of the legendary tuatara lizard, in danger of extinction.
What better gift to buy in New Zealand than a sample of this high quality Māori honey. This honey, extracted from the pollination of the manuka, a shrub which is indigenous to New Zealand, has great healing powers. The Māori people have always used it to alleviate swelling and pain, for its capacity to regenerate tissue and its antibacterial power.
New Zealand Chocolate
Yes, in New Zealand there are exquisite varieties of chocolate at the hand of Whittaker’s. The company has made chocolates since 1896 and has its base in Porirua, it is the second best-selling brand after Cadbury, which also has a factory in the country.
Now you have your suitcase full of typical products of New Zealand, you are sure to go back home wanting to plan your next trip to the country of the long white cloud.LEARN MORE
New Zealand tourist attractions
More information about New Zealand
Passport with a minimum validity of three months from date of return from New Zealand.
No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days. An arrival card must be filled in to enter the country. From October 2019, all visitors will require an Electronic Visa to enter the country.
UTC + 13:00.
New Zealand Dollar
Tourist Office website
220 / 240 V. A 3-pin plug adapter is required (this is different to the type used in UK).
Other useful information
Products of animal or plant origin cannot be brought to the country. Anyone attempting to do so will face a severe fine.
There are no mandatory vaccinations for travellers from EU countries. The free telephone hotline Healthline (0800 611 116) offers 24-hour health advice.