New Zealanders are busy, busy people. The notion of lockdown halting all those events, concerts, and festivals we love so much is long gone. In fact, it's hard to find a weekend where there isn't something exciting happening around the country. So, if you want to combine a weekend away with that jam-packed calendar of events, here are some of our picks to plan around. Book a ticket, book a flight, book some accommodation and book in some fun.
Royal New Zealand Ballet's 2020 season - nationwide
Our best ballerinas have two works touring around the country before the end of the year. First, Venus Rising consists of four breath-taking pieces capturing the spirit and power of the brightest of stars. Then, just in time for Christmas, the company launches into the quintessential classic ballet, The Sleeping Beauty. The grandest of fairy tales is the kind of extravagant production any ballet lover will get swept away in.
Venus Rising starts on August 20. The Sleeping Beauty begins on October 29. Ticketing info at rnzb.org.nz
Winter Games - Central Otago
Normally, the best in the world travel to New Zealand to compete but this year, things are a bit different. Winter Games NZ: Obsidian is an innovative new team competition, pitting three teams of New Zealand's best freeski and snowboard athletes against each other in four high-energy events. All athletes will be elite level and at the top of their game, and all hungry to skate away with the win. It's sure to be a showstopper.
August 21-29, Queenstown and Wanaka. More details at wintergamesnz.kiwi
The Beths Jump Rope Gazers tour - nationwide
If the world hadn't been put into lockdown, The Beths would probably be far away, taking their fabulous second album to the world. Instead, we lucky Kiwis get more than a dozen chances to see them live on their national tour. Starting in Raglan at the end of August and finishing up at Auckland's Town Hall, the guitar pop band are making all the major stops, and some less obvious ones - we're looking at you Takaka.
August 27 - November 6. Tickets from thebeths.com
Steinlager North v South - Auckland
Talk about an all-Aotearoa showstopper. New Zealand's best rugby players - including All Blacks - are going head-to-head for bragging rights in this epic battle of footy's best. The history of this clash dates all the way back to 1897, and after a season of Super Rugby Aotearoa, this year's encounter, where player eligibility is determined by the first province played for, is sure to be one of the best.
August 29, Eden Park. Tickets from Ticketmaster
Auckland Theatre Company Back on the Boards: A mini theatre festival - Auckland
Back on the Boards celebrates the return of live theatre. With a programme of three productions - the beloved and award-winning Still Life With Chickens, the highly acclaimed play Black Lover, which had its premiere season cut short by the global pandemic, and a brand new work, 48 Nights on Hope Street, which has been inspired by recent events. See one, two or all three shows.
September 3-20, ASB Waterfront Theatre. Tickets from atc.co.nz
The Mudder - Marton
A simplistic way of describing this would be an obstacle course... with mud. But anyone who has done The Mudder knows it's a lot more than that. Situated on a working beef and sheep farm in the southern Rangitikei, the course is designed to maximise the natural springs that guarantee mud all year round, including a dam with a floating island to crawl over. Set over 3km, 5km or 8km, it's a fun - but challenging - test for athletes old and new.
September 19, Rangitikei Farm Homestay, Marton. Enter at themudder.co.nz
International Hobbit Day - Matamata
Yes, there is such a thing, and yes, it sounds like a heck of a party. Held at the home of the Hobbits to mark the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, Hobbiton turns into a real hub, with music, food and drinks, market stalls and interactive games. Tickets include a full set tour, Hobbit Southfarthing beverages on tap all night, supper and dessert at The Green Dragon Inn, and a best-dressed competition.
September 22, Hobbiton movie set. Tickets from Hobbitontours.com
Wellington on a Plate - Wellington
Originally scheduled for August, Covid-19 forced this legendary annual foodie fest to October - but what a way to celebrate spring. Running for the whole month, there will be a huge collection of local drink and dining special events, as per usual, with the first half of the month dedicated to Dine Wellington, and the back end focused on Garage Project presents Burger Wellington. Don't worry, the Cocktail Wellington programme runs the full month.
Events throughout October. Full programme will be announced on August 24 at visawoap.com
Benee's NZ tour - Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland
She became New Zealand's most famous export during lockdown, appearing remotely on both The Ellen Show and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, now Benee's Kiwi fans can do what the rest of the world can't - see her perform her hits in the flesh on her first ever national tour. Of course, many of her shows are already sold out (sorry slow pokes) but you might get lucky.
From October 1. Tickets from Ticketmaster and Ticketek (venue dependent)
Mary Poppins - Auckland
She's back! The super nanny with a bag full of tricks is returning to Auckland for another season of songs and magic. On stage, Mary Poppins is even more spectacular than she appeared on screen, with clever special effects, catchy tunes and dazzling choreography, bringing the joy to life one more time.
From October 2 at The Civic, Auckland. Tickets from Ticketmaster
It! Bay of Islands Food and Wine Festival - Paihia
Now in its 11th year, this family friendly festie has cemented its place as a must-do if you're in the sunny north. There's food, award-winning vineyards, beer, and cider and lots of hands-on fun, including kina and oyster shucking competitions and a pie eating challenge - it is Pai-hia after all.
October 3, Paihia Village Green. Tickets from Eventfinder
Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival - Dunedin
Forget Oktoberfest, this popular Dunedin event will showcase some of New Zealand's finest craft beverages and food. Local music legends Zed, Ladi 6 and Don McGlashan will keep the crowd entertained while they soak up the atmosphere at what has been called a beer and food spotters' paradise.
October 30-31 at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Ticket info at dunedinbeerfest.co.nz
Diwali Festival - nationwide
If there is anything we desperately need in 2020, surely it's a festival where light triumphs over darkness, good over evil and life is renewed in the symbolic lighting of lamps. Diwali is one of the most vibrant, joyous times in New Zealand and our South East Asian communities. This year, the colour, art and food will be back with festivals taking place around the country, including Wellington, where the celebrations will return to the TSB Arena and Shed 6. Auckland's Diwali Festival will be held at Aotea Square from October 31 to November 1.
Best Foods Christmas Comedy Gala - Auckland, Wellington
We haven't had a whole lot to laugh about this year, but hopefully by the festive season, things might be a bit different. The Best Foods Comedy Gala was delayed by lockdown, but it's back with a Christmas twist for Aucklanders and Wellingtonians. With the likes of Ben Hurley, Justine Smith and Pax Assadi already confirmed, it's going to be a hilarious, homegrown event full of giggles.
November 7 and 9 at The Civic, Auckland and The Opera House, Wellington. Tickets from Ticketmaster
Th' Dudes' Th' Bliss Tour - nationwide
For the first time in more than a decade, Th' Dudes are back. With nine shows around the country, there is plenty of opportunity to scream Bliss and Be Mine Tonight at the top of your lungs. Featuring the original line up of Peter Urlich, Dave Dobbyn, Lez White and Bruce Hambling, late Ian Morris' brother Rikki will also join the band. In related news, Dave Dobbyn will play one solo show on September 12 at Auckland's Spark Arena.
November 13-December 5. Tickets from Ticketek and Ticketmaster (venue dependent)
Bay of Plenty Garden and Art Festival - Tauranga and surrounding areas
Ever wondered what lurks behind your neighbours' (perfectly topiary-ed) hedge? Perhaps this will be your chance to poke your head over and take a not-so-sneaky look as 70-odd gardens open their gates and invite the public in. Explore the lush landscaping, and enjoy the works of more than 100 artists, displaying their art in gardens and galleries around Tauranga and the Western Bay before joining the festival party at the Historic Village.
November 19 - 22. Tickets from Palmers Bethlehem or Eventfinda.co.nz
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com/dosomethingnew