Things To Do

Max Out The Chilly Season With 8 Unmissable Winter Events

By Jess Willemse

The slopes at First Base

Throw on your puffer jacket and lace up those boots—winter is well and truly here and we’re ready to make it the best one yet. Lucky for us, it’s not hard with a slew of unmissable events going down across the country this chilly season. 

Whether you want to light it up at Elemental AKL, or eat yourself silly at Wellington on a Plate, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. We’ve teamed up with 100% Pure New Zealand to dive deep on the best things to do in our beautiful country this season. So rally the crew, pack your bags and consider this winter sorted. 

Auckland Matariki Festival

Saturday, June 19 – Sunday, July 11 

Matariki marks the beginning of the new year for Māori. It’s a time to come together with friends and whānau, celebrate the year that’s been and kick start the new one over good conversation, delicious kai (food) and great entertainment. From Saturday, June 19 through to Sunday, July 11, Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) will come to life with a slew of events for the Auckland Matariki Festival. Think traditional experiences like Manu Aute Kite Day, or magical light displays across the Auckland Harbour Bridge—you’re spoilt for choice this Matariki. Find out more about the history of Matariki here, and the events hitting Auckland here

Vector Lights at the Auckland Harbour Bridge for Matariki

Matariki ki Waitomo

Waitomo Caves Township 
Saturday, July 3 – Saturday, July 10 

Celebrating the Māori new year at Waitomo just makes sense—the ethereal experience of the glow worm caves is not unlike the dazzling star cluster Matariki. Over this week-long festival you’ll enjoy a special twilight cave tour, a powerful series of Rongoā workshops dedicated to understanding healing in Māori culture, an underground concert featuring local singers and of course, drool-worth kai (food) in the form of Hangi pies. Find out more about what’s going down at Matariki ki Waitomo here.   

Waitomo Caves Township under a starlit sky.

Elemental Festival 

Wednesday, July 15 – Sunday, August 1

We’ve come to know and love Elemental Festival and the winter must-do in Auckland. Serving up an array of events across the region, this festival is sure to satisfy the foodie, the creative, the adventurer and everyone in-between. This year’s line-up  is nothing short of spectacular, boasting epic events like art trails and workshops, immersive foodie experiences and secret Alice in Wonderland themed parties. Need we say more? Check out everything going down at Elemental Festival here

Wellington On A Plate 

Sunday, August 1 – Tuesday, August 31

Prepare your tastebuds, the most mouth-watering festival is back for yet another year, ready to challenge your stomach capacity and delight your senses. Wellington on a Plate is kicking off from Sunday, August 1 for a full month of delicious entertainment from the best in the Kiwi culinary world. This year’s theme is ‘Out of Place,’ a call to arms to celebrate the innovators, the challengers and the resilient rebels of New Zealand’s food scene. If you’re planning a tasty trip to Welly this August, book in for the bumper weekend from Friday, August 13 to Sunday, August 15, when fan favourites like Beervana, Dine Wellington, Burger Wellington and Cocktail Wellington will all be open. Get clued up on what you need to know here, and we’ll catch you there.  

A smoking cocktail apart of Wellington On A Plate

Taupō Winter Festival

Friday, July 9 – Sunday, July 25

With more than 30 events hitting Taupō across July this year, you’ll want to book a trip to this lake town right now. Expect a range of Kiwi entertainment from musicians to comedians, and even a spot of theatre, as well as some more active options like roller disco, an ice rink and a gigantic snow globe. After all the activity, you’ll be able to cosy up in the heated marquee and chow down on delicious nosh and a glass of craft beer at Dinner in the Domain. Peep the deets for Taupō Winter Festival here

A Light Installation At The Taupō Winter Festival

Welcome To Winter

Friday, July 2 – Sunday, July 4

Putting on a show across Queenstown across four days, Welcome To Winter will kick off the chilly season in style. Whether you’re keen to catch Ladi6 at the stunning Sherwood hotel, hit up the mid-winter Christmas markets or check out the fireworks across the lake, we promise this is a weekend you won’t want to miss. Book your flights, book your hotel, and let the good times roll—here’s what you need to know about Welcome To Winter.

Te Ramaroa Light Festival 

Friday, July 9 – Tuesday, July 13

If you’re looking to experience a less-explored side of the magical Nelson region, you can’t go past Te Ramaroa Light Festival, lighting up Nelson CBD and the surrounding laneways from Friday, July 9 through to Tuesday, July 13. Back for the fifth year, they’re dropping a series of impressive and creative works from both local Creative Industries students and noted national and international artists. What’s more, the festival is free, leaving you more coin to spend on a winter getaway to Nelson—now that’s a win. 

A creative work at Te Ramaroa Light Festival

Winter Deco Festival 

Hawke’s Bay 
Friday, July 16 – Sunday, July 18

Step back in time and take in the sights, sounds and tastes of the 1920s with the Winter Deco Festival in Hawke’s Bay. Experience walking tours of the Deco Quarter, a vintage car tour and tasting, retro dance lessons, jazz evenings, dining in an old fire station and so much more. And the best part is, wine is a vibe all year round, so tack on a few tastings at the region's best vineyards while you’re there. Check out the Winter Deco Festival line-up here and our guide to the best wineries in Hawke’s Bay here.

Ka mau te wehi—fire up the group chat and rally your crew to celebrate Winter at these epic events. Better yet, make a whole trip out of it! Head here for more inspiration. 

Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by 100% Pure New Zealand and proudly endorsed by The Urban List. To find out more about who we work with and why read our editorial policy here.

Image credit:, Auckland Tourism, Shaun Jeffers at Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Wellington On A Plate Instagram, Taupo Winter Festival InstagramTe Ramaroa Light Festival Instagram, First Base,  Waitomo Glowworm Caves Instagram.

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