Winter in New Zealand is crisp as a Braeburn apple and hits the spot like a Sauvignon Blanc. As the weather cools, the country is ready to welcome visitors for another season of uniquely Kiwi winter events. Whether it’s gentler outdoor action and adventure, or cosy fireside relaxation that whets the appetite, there’s a varied menu of New Zealand event highlights this winter. Vineyards are picking late harvest grapes, the highways are void of traffic, the world class food and wine festival season is in full swing and the lodges offer Steppes clients exclusive special rates.

Include the North Island Maori stronghold of Rotorua and world class wine regions of Hawkes Bay and Martinborough. A Gourmet Wine Tour to the boutique vineyards in this region is a must. The inter-island ferry connects the North to the South. Nelson, on the northern tip, is a creative sunny city with local art and emerging culinary talent. If your visit does not coincide with the Nelson Festival in July, do not miss the Nelson Market, held every Saturday.

The magical west coastal Punakaiki with pancake rocks and blowholes has dramatic scenery. The awe-inspiring glacier scenery found at Franz Josef on this coastline is a spectacular World Heritage Area. Highly recommended is the Glacier Heli Hike – a scenic flight high up on the glacier and then a two hour hike through the brilliantly blue ice.

If Queenstown can possibly be any more electric, the buzz of the Winter Festival in June arrives with blue skies, white slopes and spectacular views.

Speak to our specialists about handpicked accommodation ranging from urban contemporary bolt holes in Auckland, unearthed gems of luxury boutique bed and breakfasts with personalised touches, original country house retreats and luxury lodges. All with wonderful savings during the winter months.

To experience at least one winter festival, ensure you travel to New Zealand between June and September. The events calendar is in full swing. Try to catch one. The Hawkes Bay Food and Wine Classic (June), Nelson Winter Festival(July), Wellington on a Plate (August), and the Queenstown Festival (June) are all popular events.

Wellington Jazz Festival  

6 – 10  June 2018

New Zealand’s hottest little jazz festival puts the groove in the world’s coolest little capital. As the season cools, hundreds of musicians turn up the heat in the capital’s famous Cuba Quarter. The three-day programme includes major international acts, home-grown supergroups, relaxed afternoon sessions and riotous late-night jams – all crammed into some of Wellington’s best loved music venues, bars and eateries.

Winter F.A.W.C! – Hawke’s Bay Food & Wine Classic 

1 June – 24 June 2018

Following on from yet another successful Summer F.A.W.C, the best place for winter food lovers in 2016 is Winter F.A.W.C! The iconic Hawke’s Bay winter festival wraps around intimate and authentic foodie events featuring food and wine personalities, roaring fires, glasses of rich full bodied Hawke’s Bay Syrah and lashings of local lamb and venison prepared in warming ways. Locales range from spectacular settings in vineyards and underground cellars to al fresco and Art Deco delights – setting the scene for great food, wine, and music.

American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

20 June – 27 June 2018

Winter gets underway with a bang in the South Island alpine resort of Queenstown with a 10-day celebration that is billed as the southern hemisphere’s most legendary winter festival – and gets bigger, better, more fun and slightly wackier each year. The 2018 programme includes; music, arts, comedy, food and wine and plenty of fireworks to light the snowy night sky.

Matariki – Māori New Year

25 June 2018

New Zealand celebrates Māori New Year or Matariki during winter. The month long event is associated with the first sighting of Matariki – the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters star group. Matariki is the most important date on the Māori calendar, and each year celebrations become more widespread as families and local communities pay greater attention to the traditional significance of the festival. This is a time to farewell the past year and welcome new life and new beginnings with festivities centred on kai/food sharing, hospitality, art and crafts, cultural workshops, traditional Māori games, concerts and performances. The Auckland Matariki Festival is a month-long celebration that puts a modern take on this ancient tradition.

Visa Wellington on a Plate – Wellington

10  August – 26 August 2018

New Zealand’s largest and tastiest food festival, Visa Wellington On a Plate returns for the sixth season with a massive menu of great food-themed events inspired by some of the country’s renowned chefs. The festival is based around DINE Wellington, a fortnight where 110 of the region’s finest eateries offer lunchtime set menus and delectable dinner deals. Wellington’s best also take part in the battle of the burger with Burger Wellington, bake-off honours in the Wellington Bake Club or the supreme award for the menu best reflecting the culinary capital’s flavour.

Thanks for reading

Clare Burkey

Author: Clare Burkey