Dancing to good tunes, drink in hand, in some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes — it doesn’t get much better, or much more Kiwi, than that.
1. Muddy Good Fun
Taking inspiration from the Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea’s famous festival of dirt, is Mudtopia, held for the first time this year among the geysers and hot pools of Rotorua. Cake yourself in the healing, mineral- rich mud, or stay clean all day as you chill to tunes: the choice is yours. “Party, Pamper, Play” is the event’s tagline and all of those options are well covered. Headliners Shapeshifter will take care of the first, while the Mud Wellness and Mud Day Spa options have you sorted for the second. Then there are the Mud Run, Mud Arena and Mud Games for the inner child who just wants to get dirty.
The inaugural Mudtopia runs from 1-3 December 2017 and — good news — early summer is the perfect time to visit Rotorua, just under three hours’ drive from Auckland. Check out the billowing thermal features (Wai-0-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Te Puia are must-sees) or grab a mountain bike and explore the beautiful Redwoods forest.
2. The Wander of It All
Western Springs is an inner-city Auckland oasis. Although hemmed in by Great North Road, the lake is populated by gracious swans and squirming eels, the traffic seemingly miles away. What better place than lakeside to get in touch with your body and mind? That’s exactly what Wanderlust 1o8 promises. Among the activities on the agenda is a triathlon unlike any you’ve experienced before, low on stress, high on energizing mindfulness — a 5km run, a mass outdoor yoga class, then guided meditation. After the triathlon, take part in your choice of scheduled activities — acroyoga, aerial yoga, hooping, or walking meditation, for example — under the tutelage of nationally recognized spiritual leaders. Away from your yoga mat, DJs will soothe and entertain. Organic treats from local vendors will give you all the goodness and energy you require to help spread the love, peace, and compassion message at the heart of Wanderlust 108.
This one-day festival takes over Western Springs on 25 November 2017. The central location — particularly its proximity to the cool inner-city suburbs of Grey Lynn, Ponsonby and Kingsland — makes it the perfect central focus for an urban getaway. Go shopping for Kiwi designer gear on Ponsonby Road before escaping to Kingsland for dinner and a nightcap.
3. Time to Explore
At Splore, you’re encouraged to “Eat! Sleep! Rave! Repeat!” and embrace moments of the unexplained. The motto for 2018: “Mystic Ritual” Splore happens in Tapapakanga Regional Park on 3 – 5 February 2018. The azure waters of the Firth of Thames lap at the shore, the Coromandel Peninsula looms beyond and twisted old pohutukawa trees surround the beach. It’s like a distillation of the Kiwi summer experience — swimming, camping, friends — but with added art, weirdness and music. Splore prides itself on its ecological responsibility and its inclusiveness. All ages are welcome (there’s even a fully programmed kids’ zone), which isn’t to say things don’t ramp up when the sun goes down. A truly eclectic range of acts will keep the adults partying all night long.
Splore is a one-hour drive from Auckland and takes place over the weekend of 23-25 February 2018. Why not use it as a stepping-stone to explore the beautiful beaches and incredible hiking of the stunning Coromandel Peninsula, just another hour’s drive around the Firth of Thames?
4. A Taste of the Wild
When you cross the Southern Alps you enter a different world: beaches beaten into submission by wild surf whipping off the Tasman, looming kahikatea forest, salt-of-the-earth locals. It is, perhaps, the only combination of elements that could have created the quixotic Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, which has been a highlight of the small town’s calendar since 1990. Among the delights on offer from more than so stalls are sheep testicles, horse semen and huhu grubs. But there are more traditional (read: palatable) treats to get those tastes out of your mouth, including two of the Coast’s most treasured delicacies, whitebait and venison. The attractions aren’t solely gastronomic: last year’s event was headlined by New Zealand favourites Salmonella Dub.
Next year, the festival will be held on Saturday, 10 March. Hokitika is a 3 hours’ drive from Christchurch, across the spectacular Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass. Use the town as a base to explore the West Coast — from moody Lake Kaniere and Hokitika Gorge to the historic town of Blackball and, further south, the majestic glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox.
5. Ice Land
While most of New Zealand’s festivals make excellent use of our enviable summers, Queenstown goes in the opposite direction. The Winter Festival on the weekend of 23-24 June 2018 is just what its name suggests, as befits New Zealand’s snow-sport capital It’s the southern hemisphere’s biggest celebration of winter in the crown jewel of New Zealand tourism. Take the plunge from the wharf into the icy waters of lake Wakatipu or strip down for the Undy 500 then fortify yourself against the cold with mulled wine. Enjoy the entertainment and watch as spectacular fireworks dissolve in the inky black of the night sky.
The tourist hub of Queenstown has flights from most major New Zealand cities and Australian capitals. You’re there in winter (June), so you might as well ski: The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Cardrona are all easily accessible from the town.
Text & photos courtesy of Tourism New Zealand