Free Travel Newsletter : June 2014
Written by Steph Kendall
Brought to you by New Zealand Tourism Guide www.tourism.net.nz.
Congratulations to David Chen, this month's lucky Free Travel Newsletter subscriber, winning a "Kiwi Country New Zealand" DVD.
Tingling faces, bright eyes, cold cheeks and warm hands – winter festivals are well-worth getting out for. Celebrate Matariki (Māori New Year), winter lights and winter nights across the country. You can even plan your travels around our 10 top art and cultural event suggestions. Enjoy!
Find out about:
- Matariki Festival 2014, NZ, 28th June – 28th July
- illume: Winter Festival of Light, Coromandel, 4th – 12th July
- Russell Birdman Festival, Russell, 11th – 13th July
- Chocolate for Fairies Festival, Dunedin, 14th July
- Go See... Craters of the Moon
- 10 Top Art and Cultural Winter Events
- New Zealand Fast Facts
Matariki Festival 2014, NZ, 28th June – 28th July
Over 31 days, Auckland celebrates Matariki with 60 different and mostly free events including live music, film, theatre, visual arts, kite flying, walks, star-gazing and food demonstrations. Highlights include:
- Dawn at The Cloud, Auckland Waterfront, 28 June - Witness the rise of the Matariki star cluster over the iconic peak of Rangitoto. Enjoy the light show which then accompanies a taonga puoro performance followed by moving blessing. Guests are invited to enjoy a free breakfast at the Stardome.
- Kapa haka, The Cloud, Queen's Wharf, 12 July - The 2degrees Kapa Haka Super 12s gives audiences the opportunity to witness the best kapa haka groups in the country. There's also a marketplace of authentic Māori art and craft and food stalls, serving traditional kai, on site.
- Manu Aute Kite Day, Takaparawha Reserve, Orakei, 26 July - Flying traditional Māori kites provides a symbolic connection from heaven to earth. People of all ages are invited to bring their kites along or make their own on the day.
Visit www.matarikifestival.org.nz for more details.
illume: Winter Festival of Light, Coromandel, 4th – 12th July
This beautiful free, family-friendly festival includes creative lighting illuminating the town's historic architecture with massive projections turning the town's walls into large colourful screens - telling stories of cultural, natural and artistic heritage. There will also be interactive activities for kids of all ages including lanterns, fire, reflections and shadows. Highlights of the festival include: opening night parade, free street concert, lanterns in the park and street performers.
Visit www.illumefest.co.nz for more information.
Russell Birdman Festival, Russell, 11th – 13th July
The Russell Birdman Festival is in its 8th year of what is the zaniest and most Kiwi of all festivals in Northland. This free 3 day festival features a hilarious Drag Race (for men in frocks), Mini Ironman (all ages), mural painting, fancy dress for kids, street party, spaghetti eating competition, dinghy races, WOK Cook-off, beach dig, Eggstravaganza, food and craft stalls, plus live music all day and our saucy pirates. Saturday is the day for the infamous Birdman Jump and on Saturday night, there's the Elvis Ball to rock the night away.
Find out more about the great line up at www.russellbirdman.co.nz
Russell Wharf, Cass Street
Friday 11 July 2014, 1:00pm – Sunday 13 July 2014, 3:00pm
Chocolate for Fairies Festival, Dunedin, 14th July
Perfect for anyone in touch with their inner fairy. You can go along dressed in your favourite fairy dress or pixie suit. Have a photo taken with the Fairy Queen holding the magic jar of fairy dust. Enjoy some fairy bread while listening to a magical Fairy story. Have the glitter and glamour of a painted Fairy's face in this lovely, fairy fantasy garden. Light lunches available. The rest of the family will enjoy exploring the beautiful gardens - tranquil, beautiful, much loved and classified as a Garden of National Significance by the NZ Gardens Trust.
View more at Glenfalloch Woodland Garden
Chocolate for Fairies Festival, 430 Portobello Rd, MacAndrew Bay, Dunedin
Monday 14 July 2014, 12:30pm – 3:00pm
Go See... Craters of the Moon
The Craters of the Moon Thermal Area is a geothermal attraction located in Wairakei Tourist Park just north of Taupo in the North Island of New Zealand. The area first became a tourist attraction in the 1950s when a large area of land north of Taupo began to get hot and emit steam. This heating was triggered by the lowering of underground water pressure by a nearby geothermal power station. Superheated water rose to the surface, escaping through any vent it could find. Craters of boiling mud emerged along with other geothermal phenomena. It is now the largest geothermal field in New Zealand with a surface area of about 25 square km.
It takes about 45 minutes to walk around Craters of the Moon, which as it name suggests, is like taking a walk on another planet entirely. Wooden walkways have been constructed, however, to protect visitors from the heat of the soil. These are regularly moved as new vents emerge. One minute you may be in clear air marvelling at the eerie steam clouds, then as the breeze shifts, you are in a cloud and your sunglasses are completely fogged up. You can view bubbling craters, fumaroles, mud pools and steam vents when your glasses return to normal, as well as a variety of interesting plants that have adapted to thrive in the hot, steamy conditions. Well worth a visit.
Where to go: Craters of the Moon Thermal Area, Taupo
How to get there: Go the end of Karapiti Road, off State Highway 1, just north of Taupo
When to go: Any time of year
10 Top Art and Cultural Winter Events
Across the country, you'll find a wealth of festivals all year round and nothing stops in winter. Enjoy finding out more about ten top events and festivals being held in the New Zealand winter (June – August) every year:
- American Express Queenstown Winter Festival, Queenstown - The biggest winter party held in Queenstown attracting 45,000 attendees a year. Celebrations on and off the ski fields.
- Festival of Photography, Auckland - An annual celebration of photography with 115 free events, exhibitions and talks at 75 venues in 21 days across the Auckland region.
- Matariki, New Zealand - Thousands honour Matariki (Māori New Year) on 28 June with kite flying, kapa haka, gourmet feasts, talks and workshops, astronomy, storytelling, music, theatre, dancing and lantern parades across New Zealand.
- Mid-Winter Masquerade Ball, Christchurch - Decadent entertainment from Christchurch's premiere burlesque troupe, Ayla's Angels. The troupe is a vibrant mix of southern Kiwi beauties who mesmerise and captivate audiences with a unique entertainment encounter promising to delight the senses.
- Nelson Winter Music Festival - This festival nurtures musical talent and its venues provide magnificent acoustics and beautiful settings for classical, jazz and contemporary music.
- New Zealand Boutique Wine Festival - Indulge in 300 varieties of New Zealand's finest boutique wines, delight in delicious food and learn about all things wine from the vintners - because life is too short to drink bad wine.
- New Zealand Fashion Week - An international setting for NZ designers to gain visibility and international recognition. It is the only international fashion event in New Zealand including three days trade for Fashion Week and three days consumer public access for Fashion Weekend.
- The Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival - Chocolate addicts will be in heaven at this carnival celebrating winter in Dunedin and the joy of all things chocolate. There will be chocolate tours, chocolate decorating, chocolate painting and chocolate facials in a carnival atmosphere.
- The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand, Queenstown - The largest multi-discipline open Freeski event in the Southern Hemisphere. Attracting world-class skiiers from around the world, halfpipe, slopestyle and big mountain skiiers compete.
- Visa Wellington on a Plate - Wellington celebrates its status as the culinary capital of New Zealand with two weeks of gastronomic delights at the annual Visa Wellington on a Plate. Foodies flock to New Zealand's capital for more than 100 different food and drink events, including Beervana – a showcase of the country's craft beers and the New Zealand Chocolate Festival.
Share Your Experience
If you have visited some wonderful New Zealand lakes during your stay, let other NZTG readers know about them. Send details of your experiences to the newsletter editor.
New Zealand Fast Facts
When the Pleiades star cluster rises into the sky above Aotearoa, it signals the start of the country's biggest celebration of indigenous people and culture – Matariki, or Māori New Year. Matariki has two common English translations:
- mata riki or 'tiny eyes'
- mata ariki or 'eyes of god'
Although there are two translations, for the Māori there is only one universal theme of Matariki. This is the beginning of a new life cycle, and the celebration of traditional Māori New Year. The New Year is marked by the next new moon after the appearance Matariki. Exhibitions, lively festivals, concerts and cultural performances take place throughout the country during the celebration of Matariki underlied by the principle of sharing, learning, feasting and festivity is constant throughout. Matariki is a celebration unique to Aotearoa, and a chance for everyone to embrace the warm spirit of Matariki ahunga nui - Matariki provider of plentiful food.