Things To Do

The Best Things To Do In New Zealand This December

By Jess Willemse – Jess is a Writer and Producer at Urban List.

A person mountain biking at coronet peak

We're counting down the days till when can get out and make the most of summer. Because after the year that was, we’re so ready for a break from the daily desk, coffee, walk, repeat routine.

And while December might look a little bit different this year, that doesn’t stop us from clocking off and making the most of it. In fact, there’s still some must-do events going down across the country. To help inspire your social cal, we’ve rounded up six things to check out this month. 

Of course, we’ve become accustomed to ‘pivoting’ as of late—insert Friend’s couch meme here. So keep your eyes peeled on official channels for the latest info when it comes to events. And as always, be safe when heading out and stick to your local Covid guidelines. 

See Out The New Zealand International Film Festival 

Various locations and dates 

With the Auckland chapter of NZIFF cancelled this year, the rest of the country has been holding the fort. In some regions like Hawke’s Bay, New Plymouth, Palmy and Tauranga, the Film Festival is carrying over into early December. You don’t really need an excuse to get your bum in a seat and soak up all the creativity, culture and talent the festival has to offer. With a bunch of local filmmakers, directors and stories making their on-screen debuts, as well as acclaimed international titles, we think this calls for a good old fashioned day at the cinema. Popcorn at the ready. 

Get Inspired At The Gallery 

From December 10, Auckland

Patient Aucklander’s can finally add a dash of culture and creativity to their weekend agenda. And better yet, checking out a museum or gallery isn’t weather-dependent. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki has flung its doors back open to the public, ready to deliver a show-stopping new exhibition in December. Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary kicks off on Friday, December 10 and offers an unfiltered look into the life of iconic fashion designer, Mary Quant. She’s known for challenging the status quo and dressing many female trailblazers like Twiggy and Grace Coddington. Mask-up, you won't want to miss this one. 

Soak Up Summer At Coronet Peak

From December 11, Queenstown

News flash; Coronet Peak isn’t just a great place to shred powder in winter. Starting Saturday, December 11 it’s also home to a slew of summer activities. And since the great outdoors is the best place to hang with friends and whānau right now, we’re especially excited to book in a day on the mountain. So what’s in store? Catch a ride up the Gondola for epic views, hit the trails on your mountain bike or take on New Zealand’s highest disc golf course. We don’t exactly know what that is, but we’ll 100 per cent give it a go. After you’ve clocked up some adrenaline, refuel with a well-deserved feast and a glass of vino at Café 1200—absolute bliss. 

Travel To Outer Space (Virtually)

From December 11, Wellington

Escapism is no longer just dreamy vacations in Italy. You can now get all Marty McFly and head back to the future (in space!) with the immersive Destination Mars experience. This high-tech interactive installation is taking over Te Papa from Saturday, December 11. For 45 minutes, you’ll be transported to the control room of a space station in 2034. The question remains though, how will you fare in the face of danger and disaster? Put your problem solving to the test and book a session at Destination Mars. 

Get Your Gindulgence On

December 18, Nelson

Hands up if you need a drink? Same. Lucky for Nelson locals, the team Gindulgence heard you loud and clear, and are delivering a sip-worthy festival of epic proportions. This one-day celebration of all things New Zealand gin will have you seriously rethinking the plain old G&T. Taste your way through the country as you enjoy creative cocktails, talks from distillers, drool-worthy food and live entertainment. And for those in the rest of NZ, don’t despair, your turn is coming in early 2022. 

Hit Up Hidden Valley 

December 27, Auckland

We’ve been holding out for a festival all year long and Hidden Valley is at the top of our list, so here’s hoping Aucklanders get the go-ahead to trek up to Matakana this summer. Ditch your tracksuit in favour of glitter and good vibes, because this year’s line-up has us hyped. Expect names like Wilkinson, Dom Dolla and Kanine to take the stage, as well as homegrown acts like Sin and Aroha & Tali. Throw on your dancing shoes, grab your vax passport and pick up a can of Pals—there’s no better way to see in the new year.

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Image credit: Sven Martin

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