New Zealand is no stranger to a jam-packed calendar, hosting some of the world's most notable events in NRL, golf, arts, yachting and performance.
The year kicks off early in January with a three-day seafood festival, before inviting travellers from all walks with a slew of memorable occasions including the New Zealand International Film Festival, The Ultimate Waterman and Restaurant Month.
Hang onto this calendar, so you don't miss out on the festivities during the first half of 2016.
Auckland Seafood Festival
24-27 January, Auckland
See celebrity chef demonstrations, listen to funky live music, bask in the sunshine by Halsey Wharf and tuck into the freshest seafood (lobster, crayfish, regional oysters) at this three-day festival. Waitemata Harbour plays host to the event and a portion of the funds raised are donated to charity.
New Zealand Millennium Cup
27–29 January, Bay of Islands
A sailing regatta for superyachts, held in conjunction with the Bay of Islands Sailing Week. The race features a selection of challenging courses that weave in and around the islands that dot the bay. Fun, yet competitive, it has become the South Pacific’s premier superyacht regatta.
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
1 February, Auckland
What started as a series of weekly shows at a tiny Melbourne bar in 2004 has bloomed into one of the most anticipated annual music festivals in Oz and NZ. With indie acts from home and abroad, Laneway Festival never fails to deliver a line-up of amazing artists.
NRL Auckland Nines
6–7 February, Auckland
With its carnival-like vibe, this knockout tournament brings together more than 280 players, 90,000 fans, 16 NRL teams and NZ$2.6 million in prize money. Eden Park will play host and footy fans can expect to catch over 31 games during the course of the event.
Coast To Coast
12–13 February, Christchurch
It’s the ultimate test of fitness: a 243-kilometre course covered in one day via foot, bike and kayak as part of the World Multisport Championship race. Other options include a two-day tandem event or the 30.5-kilometre mountain run. You’ll need a decent level of fitness for this vigorous challenge.
Rotorua Bike Festival
12–21 February, Rotorua
From world-class mountain bikers to young families, this event is open to everyone and offers around 30 events to choose from, including the leisurely dress-up ride, Frocks on Bikes, and the two-hour free Rotorua Ride to Recycle.
Art Deco Weekend
17–21 February, Napier
Vintage glamour is the order of the day at this popular event evoking 1920s and 30s fashion. Think old-school cars, steam train rides, Great Gatsby-style picnics, outdoor concerts and lavish dinner dances. Over the weekend there’ll be more than 200 events held throughout the Hawke’s Bay region.
Hamilton Garden Arts Festival
19–28 February, Hamilton
This summer-inspired arts festival offers a mix of theatre, music, art, dance, writers, ideas, circus and street performances – all set within the handsome Hamilton Gardens. Be sure to catch Backyard Beats, an outdoorsy event featuring tunes, craft beer, artisan wine and street food.
Challenge Wanaka Triathlon
20 February, Otago
Set against the stunning alpine backdrop of the Southern Alps and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, the Challenge Wanaka triathlon is one of the world’s toughest courses. Be one of the 1,500 professional and amateur athletes competing, or line the gorgeous route and cheer those racing along.
Auckland Arts Festival
2–20 March, Auckland
A celebration of people, place, culture and art, the Auckland Arts Festival features more than 900 local and international artists that inspire the coming together of communities to laugh, cry and be amazed.
9-13 March, Rotorua
Mountain biking’s defining celebration descends on Skyline Rotorua Gravity Park, bringing the world’s downhill, slope-style and enduro legends together with fans, rising stars and the next generation of mountain bike riders. Expect intense competition, concerts and loads of fun.
BMW NZ Open Golf
10–13 March, Queenstown
A cornerstone event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, the BMW New Zealand Open will include a minimum field of 140 amateurs and 140 professionals playing alongside each another. Hosted at two spectacular golf courses – The Hills in Queenstown and Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown – visitors will enjoy golf alongside stunning scenery.
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iD Fashion Week
12–20 March, Dunedin
One for the fashion lovers, this exciting week of premier catwalk shows features international guests and iconic New Zealand designers, as well as the much-anticipated 12th annual iD International Emerging Designer Awards.
The Ultimate Waterman
14–21 March, Nationwide
In a bid to find the world’s best all-round waterman, each competitor’s skills and endurance will be tested in different surfing disciplines over eight days. A hub site on the Auckland waterfront will host spectators and exhibition events.
Balloons Over Waikato
16–20 March, Hamilton
Attracting balloonists from all over the world, this five-day festival is a gorgeous spectacle from the air or the ground. Watch mass hot air balloon ascensions just after sunrise and head to the University of Waikato in the late afternoon and evening for live music and a light and sound show featuring the beautiful balloons.
Queenstown Bike Festival
26 March–3 April, Queenstown
With more than 25 events, including films, photography competitions, social rides, fun races and down-to-business-races, the Queenstown Bike Festival is a dream for keen cyclists. Its location on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu makes it an even bigger draw card on New Zealand’s event calendar.
NZ International Comedy Festival
24 April–17 May, Nationwide
A talented and, let’s face it, hilarious line-up of comedians, from Noel Fielding and Ronny Chieng to Ed Byrne and Deanne Smith, have previously graced the stages at this comedy festival. Throughout the festival new shows are constantly added, so keep your eyes peeled – and book your tickets early.
Auckland Writer’s Festival
10–14 May, Auckland
A delight for writers and readers alike, this festival brings the very best local and international fiction and non-fiction writers together with audiences to explore ideas, share stories and experience brilliant conversations.
Queenstown will be abuzz as 45,000 people arrive to celebrate the beginning of winter. With street parties, fireworks, international and local acts, comedy, family fun and plenty of mountain mayhem, winter has never been more fun.
F.A.W.C! Winter Series
June, Hawke’s Bay
Foodies rejoice! The Food and Wine Classic is a series of one-off, out-of-the-box food and wine events set in stunning locations throughout Hawke’s Bay. Get your fill of cheese platters, scrumptious mains and desserts, and of course, wine. Select vineyard restaurants will also offer decadent menus with wine pairings – think duck tamarillo with cinnamon, bok choi and dates paired with a 2009 reserve tempranillo.
It’s super rugby season again, which means you can catch your favourite Kiwi footy stars from the Blues, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs as they take to the field for some action-packed sport. Keep checking the leaderboard to see what player is topping the list.
Ahi Kaa Festival
Last year saw the inaugural event of this festival and 2016 is shaping up to be even better. See inspiring dance acts and bold theatre performed by Maori artists across four iconic theatres in Wellington, including the Circa Theatre and Hannah Playhouse.
Semi-Permanent is a platform for creative folk seeking art and design inspiration. From exhibits and competitions to workshops, all-night parties and talks from world-renowned guest speakers, the event is hosted annually in some of the world’s biggest cities, including New York, London and LA.
World Press Photo
This travelling exhibition showcases some of the most powerful and captivating images shot by professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers all over the world from the last year. The evocative and often confrontational pictures will melt your heart.
Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival
Chocoholics, this one’s for you. Highlights include giant Cadbury Jaffa balls, which have been made in New Zealand since 1931, being hurled down the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street, over the course of the event. Head along to a chocolate tour or be adventurous and try a chocolate facial.
New Zealand International Film Festival
Film buffs and doco fans are in for a treat at this event as more than 150 new features, shorts, documentaries and animated films are screened at various locations across the country. There will also be the chance to attend ‘meet the filmmaker Q&As’ to learn more about the art of filmmaking from the experts. BYO popcorn!
Visitors brave the cold and locals come out of hibernation in August to enjoy wining and dining throughout the city as part of Restaurant Month. There’ll be more than 30 foodie-inspired events and dining offers galore to ensure you find great deals that won’t break the bank. Venues such as hip Orleans, exotic Cafe Hanoi and funky Odettes will all take part in the month-long event.