IT takes more than an earthquake or two to shake Australians’ faith in New Zealand as a great holiday destination. Not only is the country blessed with spectacular scenery and world-class food and wine, but it is also brimming with events and original ventures. From mud and snow (not together) to the arts and beer, here are a host of reasons to visit New Zealand in 2017:
Rugby League World Cup
NEW Zealand will welcome a horde of rugby league fans this year, with seven major matches in the World Cup 2017 being hosted in four cities. New Zealand will co-host the tournament with Australia and Papua New Guinea. Fourteen teams will play 28 games over five weeks to vie for the most coveted prize in international rugby league.
The British & Irish Lions Series will also visit New Zealand (June and July) with 10 matches in Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Attending every match and then striking out beyond each city – from the Bay of Islands north of Auckland to the Central Otago wine region inland from Dunedin – will make for a brilliant tour of the country.
9th World Masters Games
FEATURING more athletes than the Olympics and reputed to be the world’s largest multi-sport event, the games take place in Auckland from April 21-30.
Sports include archery, athletics, badminton, canoeing, cycling, surf lifesaving and weightlifting. Some 25,000 athletes from more than 100 countries are expected to attend.
If you’d like to do more than just watch, the organisers rely on the goodwill of a huge team of volunteers so put your hand up now.
Rotorua Mud Festival
ROTORUA is best known for its Maori culture, lakes and bubbling geysers. It’s also famous for a wide array of adventure sports, from luging to zorbing, as well as some of the best mountain bike trails in the world. The city’s famed hot mud springs get their time in the sun thanks to the inaugural Mud Festival in December. Activities include a mud arena and inflatable slides leading into pools of mud.
Audi Quattro Winter Games NZ
THE games, in the hills above Wanaka, run from August 25-September 10. Attracting top-class competitors from the Winter Olympics, Paralympics and X Games, the event is considered one of the top five winter sports events in the world.
Disney’s Pete’s Dragon movie locations
THIS live-action, family adventure film is about a young boy and his dragon named Elliot. Starring Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard, it showcases spectacular locations with special effects by Weta Digital. Why not see the film with the grandchildren then fashion your NZ itinerary to take in some of the landscapes as seen from Elliot’s dragon’s-eye view?
Vector Wero Whitewater Park
DIP your toes in Wero Whitewater Park, New Zealand’s first purpose-built whitewater playground, a $37 million marvel in South Auckland’s Manukau City. Opened last year, the park is managed by Kiwi Olympic kayaking legend Ian Ferguson who describes it as the most amazing whitewater park in the world. With a Grade 3-4 river, as well as a tamer Grade 2 river, activities are accessible for all ages and abilities.
Travelling Light Photography
Whatever time of year you plan to visit, there’s always something amazing to photograph. Travelling Light Photography, owned and led by award-winning professional photographer Marcus Adams, specialises in creating ultimate luxury guided, small group and solo traveller photography tours around the North and SouthIslands.
Non-photographers are also well catered for as the company can create an itinerary for those who prefer to occupy themselves in different ways (such as wine tasting, art trails, bushwalking, body treatments, tennis, golf or shopping).
Ride the Alps 2 Ocean
THE secret is out with the new Alps 2 Ocean cycleway included in the Lonely Planet Epic Bike Rides of the World. This 301km multi-day cycle trail travels from the magnificent Southern Alps, past alpine lakes and down a river valley all the way to the sea. You can camp along the way or choose from holiday parks, B&Bs or luxury lodges.
From historic steam transport to ultra-modern electric
REALl Journeys’ latest Queenstown attraction carries visitors on one of the oldest forms of transport, the 104-year-old TSS Earnslaw steamship, to one of the latest, the Ubco electric trail bike. The New Zealand designed dual electric drive trail bike has a lightweight frame and powerful motor that provides complete control for an off-road adventure at WalterPeak.
The bikes are simple to use, innovative and near silent. The Walter Peak Electric Trail Bike trips take three-and-a-half hours and start with a ride across LakeWakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw. Groups of up to 12 join a nature guide and put on protective clothing to travel around the paddocks and hills around the farm.
Ultimate Heli Wine Tasting Experience
ENJOY a gourmet lunch, sample award-winning wines and take in 180-degree panoramic views of Queenstown from a six-seater helicopter. The Heli Wine Tasting Experience includes a glass of champagne and a luxury transfer from The Rees Hotel to QueenstownInternationalAirport to board a six-seater helicopter.
There will be breathtaking views of the Gibbston Valley and Kawarau Gorge on the way to your first tasting and lunch at Mt Difficulty Winery. Onward and upward to spectacular views of Lake Wanaka and Rippon Vineyard before a last stop (and drink) at the historic Cardrona Pub. Package offerings are for two or four people and include two nights’ luxurious accommodation at The Rees Hotel (quote UQHW4).
Tremains Art Deco Festival
EVERY February tens of thousands of people of all ages flock to Napier to join locals in the glorious Art Deco Festival, organised by the Art Deco Trust and its band of volunteers. The event effectively winds the clock back 80 years to when Napier emerged from the ashes of a devastating earthquake to build the most gorgeous Art Deco city centre anywhere in the world. For five fun-filled days and nights from February 15-19 T-shirts and jeans are relegated to the cupboard and furs, feather boas and parasols come out in the midday sun.
Dunedin Street Art Trail
FAMOUS for its Scottish heritage, Dunedin is also home to New Zealand’s first public art gallery and art society. Those artistic roots are now seeing art springing up all over the city in the form of impressive wall murals. Two years ago, the city’s art scene enticed celebrated Belgian artist ROA to paint a tuatara (local reptile) on the side of a building in historic Bath Street.
Now a swag of other pieces have been added to surfaces all over town. The Dunedin Street Art Trail takes in 25 walls and includes everything from the ferocious (now extinct) Haast’s eagle, the aforementioned tuatara and a painted pipe organ that sends native birds into the sky. The 90-minute walk meanders from the harbour to QueensGardens. Art lovers can download the map or collect a printed edition from venues around the city.
World-class Weta Workshop
Wellington, also known as Wellywood, is home to the award-winning Weta Workshop, most notably responsible for effects on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and winner of five Academy Awards. Recently ranked by The Guardian newspaper as one of the top 10 film studio tours in the world, a guided tour is a must-do for movie lovers. The tours include the 45-minute guided tour as well as a behind-the-scenes Thunderbirds Are-Go experience and glimpses into the making of King Kong.
Showcasing New Zealand onboard ship
Launching on Princess’ New Zealand cruises this summer, a new program – aptly named Across the Ditch – will showcase New Zealand culture, food and traditions through a series of onboard experiences and shore excursions. Passengers will be able to eat some of the country’s most popular and traditional dishes including racks of lamb, hokey pokey and even a Maori hangi-style dinner.
They can learn the secrets behind the dishes at food-themed shore excursions, from cooking classes in Akaroa to a gourmet walking tour in Wellington and a visit to a Waiheke winery. Princess Cruises has brought onboard more New Zealand wines than ever before to develop the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail at Sea. The Maori culture will also be brought to life onboard with Kapa Haka groups performing the haka and traditional poi dancing.
BEER is big business, 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, in August. You’ll discover creative beer made with imaginative ingredients including lemongrass and lychees. More than 60 breweries are expected to serve up 300 different types of beer.
Three New Zealand seafood festivals
Seafood – or kai moana as it’s known in the Maori 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 oceanic delights is not only a must but, thanks to the many seafood celebrations, relatively simple.
There are three signature events – the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival, Whitianga’s Scallop Festival and Havelock’s Mussel and Seafood Festival, but look out for other seafood celebrations in Port Chalmers, Kaikoura and Auckland.
The Auckland Arts Festival
THE country’s largest city will be abuzz for this festival from March 8-26. From dance to poetry and visual arts to circus, the festival is one of the biggest of its kind 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.
- Want to know more? www.newzealand.com. Compiled with the assistance of Tourism New Zealand.