The picturesque island nation of New Zealand has a deep-rooted Māori culture that’s been influenced, over the years, by many other cultures. As New Zealand was once colonised by the British, you’ll see European undertones in the lifestyles of the locals. Being a small country with a population of just 5 million people has helped the people to build and maintain a tight-knit community, which contributes to the further preservation of the culture. The Kiwis are extremely proud of this and one can see it through the solidarity and compassion with which they live.
As a tourist, the best way to experience this is through the amazing festivals that the country holds during different times of the year. While some give you a glimpse of the Māori culture, some let you enjoy the amazing food and others focus solely on the various cultural art forms of not just New Zealand but also the world. There are certain festivals for party lovers as well that focus on modern music styles including alternative, rock, punk and electronic music genres.
The Pasifika Cultural Festival takes places in the first week of March every year. A festival that strongly focuses on New Zealand’s Pacific Island communities, this festival is one of the best and the biggest ones in the country. Here, you get to experience the different cultures from Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, Aotearoa, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and so on, through the multiple dance, art, music and food events spread over two days. With more than 80,000 people visiting, it is the biggest representation of the cultures of the said communities!
The Auckland Lantern Festival is a festival that lets you enjoy yet another culture in the island nation of New Zealand. Held between February 13 and 16, the celebrations are with respect to the Chinese New Year. The Albert Park is lit up with lanterns and the four-day celebration ends with a spectacular show of fireworks. During the festival, you can enjoy the ever-popular Chinese cuisine. Additionally, you also get to witness various forms of martial arts, cultural dances and music performances that are a part of the Chinese culture. The festival is not only attended by the Chinese locals but also by other residents.
The Parihaka Peace Festival, as the name suggests, is a festival that celebrates non-violent ways to lead one’s life and encourages people to co-exist with humans from all races. A small Taranaki coastal Māori settlement, Parihaka has a gorgeous setting with volcanic lava spread around and unpretentious buildings where the ethnic tribe lives in peace. Thanks to the various events involving food, dance and music, the festival is a great way to start the Kiwi summer in the month of January.
Travelling to New Zealand and not exploring one of the Māori Kai Festivals is nothing short of committing a felony. The Māori Kai is a chain of festivals that take place across the island nation during different times of the year. This gives tourists visiting the country the opportunity to experience the incredible culture of the Māoris, any time of the year. In these festivals, you get to savour some of the best dishes of the Māori tribe, like wild pork, mountain oysters, mussels, kebabs and so on. All the festivals give you excellent opportunities for you to interact with the local Māori people.
New Zealand’s award-winning festival, the WOMAD Festival, is an attempt to bring artists from different parts of the world and collaborate with different cultures. WOMAD stands for World of Music Arts and Dance and the name itself suggests how beautiful the event is. You get to experience top performances from artists belonging to different cultures, however you’ll find that there’s a strong focus on folk and original art forms. Of course, you can also enjoy some delectable food from different cultures. The ambience you get to experience here is something unique in many ways because of the cultural diversity on display.
Rhythm and Vines is the best music and camping festivals in New Zealand. A part of the Waiohika Festival, tens of thousands visit this annual celebration to enjoy the New Year in the best possible manner. The line-up of stars is never disappointing, with top artists from around the world performing their gigs of alternate and electronic music. It is a dream destination for the party-goer in you. Camping at the site is another way to enjoy the festival and it also lets you communicate with people from various backgrounds, making it a huge socio-cultural event.
Following the footsteps of Rhythm and Vines is another summer festival of music and light – Rhythm and Alps. Set amidst the naturally beautiful town of Wanaka, it is a festival that you should definitely not miss because of the fact that there’s so much on offer. Here, you not only celebrate the New Year by witnessing the amazing performances of top artists, but also celebrate it by indulging in any of the exciting outdoor activities on offer. The huge expanse of Wanaka has multiple forest and mountain trails for you to hike and trek through.
World Buskers Festival is a unique festival in many ways because of the concept behind it. You get to witness some of the best busking pitches from around the world perform here at Christchurch. Musicians, visual artists, magicians, dancers, contortionists, comedians and various other artists perform here. This makes it a festival where you can enjoy multiple genres of performances on a single stage. It is generally held between January 10 and February 3.
New Zealand, being a former colony of Great Britain, has come out of that legacy to celebrate over 180 years of independence. However, they do still have some buildings from that era, particularly at the Oumaru’s Victoria Precinct. Every year in November, the locals dress up in the Victorian style and remember those days. For tourists, it is an excellent occasion to explore some delicious food and drinks that owe their origins to both, Britain and New Zealand. Wine, beer and whiskey are the most popular drinks glugged during this festival. You can shop for antique craft pieces as to take a leaf out of the past. Don’t forget to try your hand at Penny Farthing.
Well, here is an opportunity for you to bring out your wild side! The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival is an interesting one where you get to try different wild food delicacies from the West coast. Insects, wild meat, pork, sausages and various other foods are available for you to eat. That’s not all, you can try some marinated tuna, smoked salmon, and traditional Māori food items too. Additionally, you also get to enjoy various cultural performances at the main stage of the event.
With such a rich cultural heritage, New Zealand certainly has its fair share of unique experiences to offer travellers! If any of these festivals piqued your interest, check out our travel packages to find out how you can get there!