The 2nd of January is a recognised public holiday in New Zealand, so many New Zealanders will take the opportunity to have some form of a getaway around the New Year’s period. Generally, the weather will ‘play ball’ and sunshine will greet holiday goers all over the country – giving way to long, hot days with family and friends. Of course, every city is unique but here’s four of the best cities to celebrate the New Year in New Zealand.
Gisborne (Māori name: Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa)
How could you not pick Gisborne – the first city in the world to see the sunrise each and every day? Technically Gisborne’s East Cape is the hot spot due to the curvature of the Earth. Gisborne is home to Rhythm & Vines, one of New Zealand’s annual music festivals held at Waiohika Estate vineyard from 29 – 31 December. If a music festival isn’t up your alley, never fear! With the ocean running all along its East coast, you won’t be far from having a relaxed time at a beach to ring in the New Year.
Paihia (Māori name: Paihia)
Paihia’s big drawcards for a great stay over the New Year’s period are its beaches, holiday parks, and the nearby historic Waitangi Treaty grounds. Its relaxed atmosphere is perfect for couples, families, or groups of friends. Make sure you gather near the waterfront to watch a midnight fireworks show, launched from a barge that sits between Paihia and Russell. Take the ferry across to Russell’s Duke of Marlborough on New Year’s Day for a meal at New Zealand’s oldest pub to round off the festivities.
Mount Maunganui (Māori name: Mauao)
Fondly known by many as ‘The Mount’, this beachside area of the larger Tauranga area is always filled with people over summer. There are multiple community evening events with local bands and entertainment to enjoy, and there’s even a fireworks display at 9:30pm for those with young families; followed by several displays across the city at midnight. Get cracking into the New Year by summiting the Mount – a must do for an incredible panorama view across the area and beach – then a morning swim in the clear waters!
Queenstown (Māori name: Tahuna)
Despite providing some of the best snow in the country, Queenstown is also one of the most popular cities in New Zealand to spend not just New Years, but also, summer. Rhythm & Alps – the sister festival of Rhythm & Vines – is held in the gorgeous area of Cardrona Valley; or explore the nightlife of downtown Queenstown. Earnslaw Park is the centre for live music, food trucks, and of course, the midnight fireworks display. Fill your summer days with activities galore – speed down the luge, jet boat through Shotover Canyon, or enjoy a fine dining experience at one of the many vineyards.