This close to Antarctica, winter in New Zealand is a long and chilly affair. From Wellington, the world’s most southern capital, to the other cities of its North and South Islands, residents must find reasons to leave their cozy hearths. Besides skiing, climbing and other outdoor sports, here are some seasonal events that will get you out of the house and still keep you warm.
1. Russell Birdman Festival, July 19-21: This is the seventh year that local teams compete for the best “flying machine” lift-off from Russell Wharf. Further highlights of the weekend festival include a pancake breakfast, Elvis Ball, egg throwing competition and other family-fun activities. Free general admission for most events; Russell town waterfront.
2. Nelson Winter Music Festival, July 19-August 4: “Nelson by Day, Music by Night” is the theme for this year’s festival. Guests to the city – rated one of the most livable in New Zealand – will experience the city’s charms through 21 performances in local venues, including concerts, dance parties and children’s theatre. Prices vary per event.
3. Auckland Food Show, August 1-4: Taste-test your way through gourmet deserts, local specialties and home-grown wines. After imbibing, catch food preparation demonstrations, join a Masterclass with a master chef, and learn about the latest in kitchen appliances. $26 general entry; at the ASB Showgrounds, Auckland.
4. Beervana, August 9-10: Over 70 beers from New Zealand, Australian and international breweries and pubs have been carefully selected for this year’s program. Attend one of four sessions to try any or all of the brews, at $2 a sample. Each session will feature a seminar on labels, flavors and methods. $45 general admission includes Beervana glass; at the Westpac Wellington Stadium, Wellington.
5. Adventure Film Festival, August 19-25: Held in conjunction with the NZ Winter Games, this collection of entertainment events is designed to inspire. Films feature the best footage of extreme sports, from snowboarding to downhill biking and skateboarding. Expect to be wowed by stunts, tricks and crashes. $25 general admission for selected films; Reading Cinemas, Queenstown.
6. Christchurch Arts Festival, August 22-September 4: Classical music meets cabaret meets visual art in this festival of sensory explosion. This year’s performances include a twist on the grim world of fairy tales, and a reflection on the emotional cost of the city’s previous earthquake disasters. Ticket prices vary per event; Aurora Centre, Christchurch.