In the next part of our 50 Winter Holidays series, we search near and far for the best events to tide you through the New Zealand winter.
GIN AND BEAR IT
WHAT: A Celebration of Gin.
WHERE: Kauri Cliffs, one of New Zealand's grandest and most acclaimed luxury lodges.
WHEN TO GO: June 7-9. As you'll no doubt be aware, International Gin Day ("There's only one of them?" mutters Travel Editor Winston Aldworth) is on June 8.
WHY: Kauri Cliffs has teamed up with Kiwi gin makers Scapegrace, Reid + Reid and Sacred Spring to celebrate the "ginaissance". Gin advocate Michael "Mikey" Ball hosts cocktail hours on the Friday and Saturday nights along with a two-hour gin masterclass on the Saturday afternoon. Dinner that night features a five-course meal with botanical gin pairings.
HOW TO GET THERE: It's quite a drive, but the arrival makes it all worthwhile. Otherwise, you can helicopter from Mercury Bay.
TOP TIP: This is officially the Herald Travel department's favourite gin-related event for the year.
QUEENSTOWN BY TORCHLIGHT
WHAT: Winter Festival.
WHY: The annual party starts with a Matariki Torchlight Hikoi on the opening night, before a series of music, comedy and events celebrating the start of the southern ski season. There are events on the skifields, and a main stage in Queenstown — many are free, but the ticketed ones sell out fast. See winterfestival.co.nz .
WHEN TO GO: The Winter Festival is on from June 20-23. For tickets and more info, go to winterfestival.co.nz .
HOW TO GET THERE: The winter express — evening flights from Auckland to Queenstown are packed with snow-bunnies.
TOP TIP: This year's theme is Studio 54. Dress to impress, people.
CANTERBURY TRUFFLE HUNTERS
WHAT: The Truffle Day Out.
WHERE: Black Estate Winery, Waipara, North Canterbury.
WHY: There's good fungi to be had at North Canterbury's annual truffle hunt and festival.
WHEN TO GO: Black Estate is hosting two events, one a truffle hunt at neighbouring Limestone Hills, on Saturday July 6, followed by a five-course lunch using local truffles and wine matches from the Black Estate cellars. On July 7, the hunt is on at Kings Truffles, before wine-matched lunch.
HOW TO GET THERE: This is a fly-drive job, as Waipara is about a 45-minute drive from Christchurch Airport. You can get accommodation at Black Estate, or local B&Bs. Alternatively, there's a bus running from the Garden City.
TOP TIP: While you're in the region, pay a visit to Kaikoura.
WAIKATO RUNS RED
WHAT: The Big Red Dinner, at Huka Lodge.
WHERE: Huka Lodge, perched on the banks of the Waikato River, just north of Taupō.
WHY: In its 18th year, the Big Red Dinner will be hosted by Stephan Walliser, of FROMM Winery, in Blenheim. The boutique winery produces distinctive, classically-styled wines inspired by European viticulture. Huka Lodge isn't too shabby, either. As Travel Editor Winston Aldworth notes: "There is a lot of very good accommodation in New Zealand, but Huka Lodge is what well-travelled, well-moneyed people expect."
WHEN TO GO: One night only, July 27. Any guests booked in at Huka Lodge are welcome to the dinner, where FROMM wines are paired to five dishes presented by Huka Lodge executive chef, Paul Froggatt.
HOW TO GET THERE: Huka Lodge is a 3hr, 20m drive from Auckland. Don't make the mistake of leaving after work, you'll be too poked to enjoy the arrival.
TOP TIP: Make sure you get to Huka Lodge at least once in your life.
SPRINGBOKS IN WELLINGTON
WHAT: All Blacks v South Africa.
WHY: Modern fripperies like the World Cup are all well and good, but the scalp that matters the most for the All Blacks is still the Springboks. This being a World Cup year, honours are settled in the Rugby Championship with just one fixture, so no need to venture into the heart of Bokke territory.
WHEN TO GO: July 27
HOW TO GET THERE: A mid-morning Saturday flight will save you burning money on an Airbnb for the Friday.
TOP TIP: You'll meet enthusiastic fans of the Old Enemy — please pass on our warmest regards. But don't get too full of yourself if the All Blacks win, there's still the small matter of our opening World Cup match, when these sides square up again in Yokohama on September 21.
LA SURF BREAK
WHAT: US Open of Surfing.
WHERE: Los Angeles.
WHY: It's never been this cheap to fly so far, meaning long-haul is (kind of) the new medium-haul. So make your mid-winter sunshine break a visit to California's Orange County, as some of the world's best surfers show off their stuff in the waters off Huntington Beach. Skateboarding and BMX events are going on at the same time, so it's a very brah scene. This is America's biggest pro-surfing competition, with massive spectator crowds and a fun beach atmosphere, boosted by live bands. For more details, see usopenofsurfing.com .
WHEN TO GO: The first wave will be dropped into on July 28. The final whistle blows on August 5.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take a sleeping pill, lie back and you'll be at LAX in no time.
TOP TIP: There are serious beach bodies on display here; hide your Kiwi winter tan.
WHERE: This is the only beer festival in the world to take place in a CakeTin, aka Wellington Stadium. The country's craft brewers are spread out at stands around the stadium's circular concourse — it's hard to describe until you've seen it, but it kind of works.
WHY: We're living in the golden age of New Zealand beer, and of the festivals around the country, Beervana is the biggest and most authentically Kiwi of the lot. It attracts a certain kind of crowd — as Jesse Mulligan noted when he visited Beervana for Travel back in 2016: "If they were smart they'd run a vinyl LP shop by the gate on the way out."
WHEN TO GO: August 9-August 10. There are two sessions on each day: 11am-4pm and 6pm-11pm. Tickets are on sale from next month, beervana.co.nz/tickets .
HOW TO GET THERE: A morning flight on the Friday will get you there for the opening session, at 11am. Be aware, the evening session on the Friday gets a bit of a post-work crowd. The smarter hophead will work Friday, catch the last flight down to Welly that night then hit the festival floor on Saturday.
TOP TIP: Make sure you drink plenty of water.
DIVING INTO FIJI
WHAT: Ocean Swim Fiji
WHERE: In the waters off Denarau, and happily, the events finish with cocktails on the sand.
WHY: Because a drink in the sun tastes even better once you've earned it. And you'll earn it here with swim courses set out at Tivua Island, Malamala Beach Club and Natadola Beach — there are 1km and 3km options available at each location.
WHEN TO GO: August 22-26. "Five days, three swims, zero worries."
HOW TO GET THERE: The three-hour flight to Nadi is pretty straight forward, the three months of training less so. You can dive in right here: oceanswimfiji.com .
TOP TIP: Depity Travel Editor Stephanie Holmes — who won gold in her category (go on, ask how many other swimmers there were in her category) — says: "Don't stress, just have fun. It's the best swim you'll ever do."
SEEING THE LIGHT IN MELBOURNE
WHAT: White Night, in Melbourne.
WHERE: The classiest Australian city of them all (sorry, Darwin) stays up late to farewell the winter with late-late sessions at iconic cultural institutions.
WHY: This is the first year the festival has been held in winter, and the first time it's been stretched out over three nights. Artworks are beamed on to facades of notable buildings, and this year there's a bigger focus on food.
WHEN TO GO: White Night runs for three nights from August 22-24. The Thursday and Friday sessions go from 7pm until midnight; the Saturday session runs until 2am. Programme details are yet to be released, whitenight.com.au/melbourne .
HOW TO GET THERE: A three-hour flight with Jetstar, Air New Zealand, Virgin or Qantas will have you in the action.
TOP TIP: The weekend of White Night coincides with the 23rd and final round of the AFL. Get thee to the MCG, culture vulture!
BOWLING THROUGH THE DUST
WHAT: Red Dust Revival .
WHERE: At Lake Perkolilli, in Western Australia.
WHY: Think Mad Max meets the Charleston as 1920s-era cars are put through their paces over the red sands of the the Outback. Dust-covered Model T Fords and Austin Sevens blazing through the Big Red.
WHEN TO GO: September 12-15. The first couple of days for trials, the main event runs over Saturday September 14 and on to the Sunday.
HOW TO GET THERE: Put it this way: The drive from Perth to Perkolilli is longer than the flight from Auckland to Perth. Yes, you need to love old cars or the Outback to go for this. Visit motoringpast.com.au .
TOP TIP: You can camp at the nearby lake or stay in the town.