Arts festivals in New Zealand  
One thing Kiwis love is art of all descriptions. A creative and culturally rich country, its combination of traditional Maori culture with European influences, incredible landscape and friendly atmosphere translates into a thirst for forward thinking art, music, comedy and film.
This lust of the arts is encapsulated beautifully in the country's art festival schedule. Across the 2014 calendar, New Zealand will play host to numerous events that celebrate creativity, from the mainstream to the avant garde, and everything in between. Here is our guide to some of the most famous and worth attending.
OI YOU! RISE
Taking place in Christchurch, between 20th December and 23rd March, OI YOU! RISE brings together street art from around the globe. The highlight for many will be the largest collection of art by controversial and world renowned UK street artist Banksy, whose work will be shown on the walls of the Canterbury Museum. There's a huge selection of other innovative and exciting work to see at OI YOU! RISE, however, with pieces on show in three gallery spaces across the city from both international and native urban artists.
NZ Street Art Festival
Sticking with street art for the moment, you might also want to be in Kawerau on the 8/9 February, for this collection of New Zealand street art. Kawerau is a small town in the Bay of Plenty and this festival is designed to be kid friendly. That means no alcohol and music, art and fun for all the family.
Auckland Festival of Photography
Between 29 May and 20 June, one of the world's most exciting and consistently high quality photography events will take place in Auckland. A stunning visual arts fiesta, it includes a huge number of both free and paid events, meaning there is something for every budget and level of interest.
New Zealand International Arts Festival
Wellington once again proves itself to be the headquarters for all things cool, creative and cultural in New Zealand by playing host to the International Arts Festival between 21 February and 16 March. Over 300 events from just about every discipline, from dance to film to comedy to music, and performances and exhibits from some of the world's top artists make this a must-visit for anybody with an interest in culture. This year's highlights will include music from Lutheran Masses, Power Plant visual art exhibition in the Botanic Gardens and a puppet performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream that will blow your mind.
Having fun in Hamilton   

As New Zealand's fourth biggest city, Hamilton is unsurprisingly a great place to go for a drink. Hamilton is a city in the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island, Hamilton is nestled on the banks of the mighty Waikato River and is known for its walks, elaborate themed gardens, cafes, bars and nightlife. Here are our top night spots for visitors to the city.
CBD Corner Pub
This is one of those great Kiwi pubs where you get quality beers, lovely food and a warm, friendly atmosphere. It's great for a quiet cold one and a chat or for a long night out. Hang around until after 9pm and the DJs take over and the place turns into a great nightclub.
Diggers Bar
Known locally as the ‘home of live music', Diggers Bar is a real Hamilton institution. Across the average week you'll see every type of live group take to the stage, from two piece acoustic acts to full on rock bands. It's got a great atmosphere, fostered by the old school décor and the warm surroundings.
The Bank
One of the best combinations of food and drink you'll find in Hamilton, the Bank offers a great menu of both alcohol and grub. Looking for a great deal? Then head down on Sunday for the steak special. For just $6, you get an Angus Sirloin fillet, with fries, mash, veg, salad and greens. For a dollar more you can throw on egg, mushrooms, onions, bourbon sauce, pepper sauce or chive and garlic. Wash it all down with a nice pint of Guinness – a great way to spend a Sunday in Hamilton.
Furnace
If you like style and comfort when you hit the town, then Furnace will be a great spot for you. With a classic menu of pasta, pizzas and very filling mains and a long wine list with some wonderful vintages, it is a lovely place for a classy evening of wining and dining. In fact, it's been awarded several times, winning the Best Restaurant in Waikato award for 2009 and 2011 and was runner up in 2008 and 2010.
Speight Ale House
For the thirsty sports fan (and that pretty much sums up most Kiwis), the Speight Ale House could not be better situated: in between the Waikato River and the Waikato Stadium. A great place to warm up for a big match with a cheeky beer or celebrate a big victory afterwards, its rustic décor and vibrant atmosphere make it a lovely spot for a beverage.

 

The history of the Wellington Sevens  

New Zealand Sevens World Series event is moving to Hamilton in 2018. Hamilton, claimed from Wellington the hosting rights for the NZ HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Hamilton was announced earlier this year as the new host of the event after Wellington's 18-year hosting of the rugby sevens event. So yes Wellington Sevens to become the Hamilton Sevens. Hamilton City is set to host the New Zealand leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series from 3rd – 4th February 2018. With a rich rugby heritage, Hamilton and the wider Waikato region will no doubt come alive with sevens rugby action. Public ticket sales allocation has sold out for the 2018 NZ Sevens.

But here's some of the background history about Wellington Sevens. One of the world's most fun, frantic and downright enjoyable sports tournaments used to take place every year in New Zealand's capital of cool, Wellington. Though it might not be as famous as the World Cup, the Olympics or the Superbowl, there are few tournaments anywhere in the world that can match the Sevens for good vibes, great ambience and a really party atmosphere.

2017 Wellington Sevens was on the 7th February and lasted two days. It should come as no surprise to see the host nation in the familiar position of firm favourites. Since the tournament was founded in 2000, the All Blacks have taken home the top prize on a record six occasions, while taking the runner up spot twice.
They do not, however, come in as champions. That honour belongs to England, who vanquished Sevens-loving Kenya in last year's final and are being tipped by many to meet New Zealand in the ultimate game of this year's contest.
The Wellington Sevens is the fifth event in the IRB Sevens World Series Circuit. The Circuit, which begins in Gold Coast, Australia each October and ends in London England, the following May. In between, it takes in Dubai, Port Elizabeth, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Glasgow and, of course, Wellington.
Of all these stop overs, Wellington is one of the most famous and fun, with players on the circuit regularly citing it as their favourite place to play. The crowd are there to enjoy themselves, often arriving at the venue in fancy dress. Popular costumes over the years have ranged from Fred Flinstone to George W. Bush to Austin Powers to the Care Bears.
In recent years, kissing has also begun to be a big part of the event. Beginning in 2009 with a ‘Beads for Kisses' campaign, which involved spectators exchanging beads with each other for kisses, and now taking the form of kissing booths around the venue.
The 2017 tournament brought together 16 teams in total: Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Wales, Figi, France, Kenya, Portugal, Samoa, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, Tonga, USA and, of course, New Zealand. It kicked off in the 35,000 capacity Westpac Stadium in the city centre.

 

Hit the town in Christchurch  
Though the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes did damage to the city centre that remains to this day, it remains a lively night spot and a great place to go on the tiles. Here are our favourite places to go for a beer in the Garden City.
South of Lichfield
Also known as SOL, this is one of the hippest and swingingest area of the city. The streets here are packed with places to eat and drink, with pedestrian walkways linking bar to bar and club to club. If you're planning to bar hop around Christchurch, this is definitely the place to begin your night. Whether you fancy a quiet pint and a chat, rocking out to live music or a heavy night out, you will find what you are after on the streets of SOL.
Minx Dining Room and Bar
One of the most famous restaurants in the city is the Minx. An award winning diner where you can enjoy fresh European fare and a host of sophisticated cocktails, it's well known across Christchurch as a place for those looking for an upmarket night out to go. The Head Chef Nicola McDermott has a hell of a resume, having previously worked in the London Marriott and the Pearl Restaurant.
Micky Finn's Irish Pub
Right by the tranquil banks of the Avon river, you will find one of the city's most consistently popular little watering holes. A proper little Irish pub, where the Guinness, beer and whiskey flows late into the night, it's one of the nicest atmospheres you'll find in this area.
The Fox and Ferret
For some pub grub, you can't go wrong at the Fox and Ferret. While lots of places claim to be ‘gastro-pubs', this spot really lives up to the title, with a tasty menu of traditional drinking food, a bunch of British ales, lots of atmosphere and very friendly staff.
The Holy Grail
It's no secret that Kiwis love their sport and, of all the country's many, many sports bars, the Holy Grail in Christchurch is the biggest. Across 17,000 square foot, you will find a huge 10 metre projector screen, four bars, a big menu of tasty bar food and a 70 seater grandstand. For the big Rugby games, it's almost as good as being in the stadium.
Jim Beam Homegrown festival   

If you're going to be in Wellington New Zealand next 7th April 2018, then it is well worth your while picking up a ticket for the Homegrown festival, which rocks the waterfront, it's a day out to match any other in the rock calendar, though what makes Homegrown so special is that every performance comes from a live act that is 100% Kiwi. That makes the event the biggest collection of New Zealand pop and rock artists ever.
After this year's record sell out Jim Beam Homegrown are back in 2018 on 7th April.

The line-up across all 5 stages will be HUGE + we've got a new stage to check out in Frank Kitts Park (The City Stage)!!
$79 Tickets Anyone?

This year for the first time Jim Beam Homegrown are offering Super Early-Bird Pre-Sales from $79 + booking fee.

Depending on how quick you are there will be options for limited $79, $89 and $99 pre-sales. These will be on sale from September 4th but you can't get your hands on them unless you register with Jim Beam Homegrown between 23rd August and 2nd September. So hit Jim Beam Homegrown on the 23rd for the registration link and you're good to go!

Once they're gone GA tickets will be $129 + booking fee so get in early and save up to $50.

The 1st line-up announcement will be on October 16th.

When you get to Jim Beam Homegrown you will need to swap your ticket for a wristband that will get you in and out of the different stages during the day.

Getting ready for Jim Beam Homegrown

Remember to bring the stuff you're going to need:
  • Make sure you bring photo ID for proof of age, your ticket, any (legal) medication you may need, a charged mobile phone, enough cash for the day. If you have any chronic conditions or illness (ie epilepsy, diabetes, asthma) be sure to carry information regarding your condition & emergency contact number on you at all times.
  • Allow enough time to get to & into the show. Presume around 30mins to get thru the gates & security depending on the time of day.
  • Dress for the day & weather by wearing sensible clothes & shoes.
  • You can bring into the event an unopened bottle of water (no glass) & reasonable amounts of food without problems.
  • Please note NO food or drinks are allowed to be brought into the TSB Bank Arena (Rock Stage) - their rules sorry.
  • Keep it real & keep it legal. Anyone caught holding or dealing illegal substances will be treated the same way as anywhere else.
  • Don't turn up drunk or out of it, as you may be refused entry.
  • Check the back of your ticket for restricted items such as video cameras, alcohol & umbrella's as we have no provision to check them in so you will need to get rid of it or take it back home or to your car.
  • Still cameras are allowed for personal use only.
  • For public transport around the Wellington region please go to www.metlink.org.nz

 

Outdoor fun in Auckland  

One thing that New Zealand has in spades is outdoor activities. There is simply no end to the things you can do in the great outdoors across the majestic country. In Auckland alone, there is a menu as long as your arm of fun ways to get in touch with nature. For the uninitiated, here are just a few of the possibilities.
Abseiling
Does roping up and down some of the world's most beautiful cliffs and mountains sound like a nice day out to you? Then why not do some abseiling in Auckland? The surrounding area plays host to limestone cliffs and waterfalls as high as 120 feet. If you'd prefer to stay in the city centre, you can do the Rocket Ropes: two towers on Tom Pearce Drive where you can climb, abseil and rappel.
Bungy Jumping
Auckland is a great place to overcome your fear of heights.
 
In the 1980's, a couple of young kiwis, AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch, set up New Zealand's first commercial bungy operation, with a jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown. Since then, New Zealand has become the home of bungy, with numerous other operators starting up.
 
All over the country you can leap from bridges, climbs, rail viaducts, specially made platforms perched on the edge of cliffs, and stadium roofs.
 
The Nevis bungy is the highest and involves an incredible 134-metre plunge. You can also take a leap off the Auckland Harbour Bridge against the backdrop of the beautiful Waitemata Harbour.
 
In the Central North Island, just upstream from the Huka Falls, lies the Taupo Bungy - 47m (154 feet) above the Waikato River. You can choose to be dunked in the Waikato River below at the end of your jump.
 
Every day of the week locals and tourists alike enjoy the experience of a bungy among stunning landscapes. Bungy jumping remains one of New Zealand's most popular and renowned leisure activities.

 

Quotes about New Zealand  
It's no surprise the gorgeous landscape, rich history, jaw-dropping wildlife and vibrant culture of New Zealand have inspired some pretty famous and brilliant people to say some pretty interesting things over the centuries. Here are some of our favourite quotes about New Zealand.
I had a good time shooting in New Zealand. I almost bought a home there while I was there, because I loved it so much. Josh Hartnett
I've spent half my life on planes. I have a lot of love for New Zealand, though. That is where the really arty, whimsical side of the family resided - in Hobbitland. Alice Englebert
I love working in New Zealand. It's just the most beautiful country I've ever been to. Grant Bowler
By and large, women in New Zealand are fortunate compared with some other countries, including many in our own region. But there is still progress to be made. Jenny Shipley
I'm from Canada, and New Zealand feels like you took all the best bits of Canada and squished them onto a tiny island like Hawaii. I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the South Island. Evangeline Lilly
New Zealand is not a small country but a large village. Peter Jackson
It's fair to say that, for much of my lifetime, New Zealand certainly was a property-owning democracy and working people, ordinary people, had assets. Helen Clark
On many occasions New Zealand has spoken about the need to ensure that women's concerns are fully integrated into all aspects of the United Nations' activities and structures, not marginalised in one part of the Secretariat. Jenny Shipley
New Zealand is a pretty no-nonsense place to work, like Australia. I mean it doesn't falter to anyone. Dustin Clare
The Humpback Trail on New Zealand's South Island is really beautiful. It is a 70 km walk over about four days and is fairly arduous. You go through prehistoric forest and up to the top of Humpback Mountain, where there are amazing views down to the Tasman Sea. Toby Stephens
There's a real purity in New Zealand that doesn't exist in the states. It's actually not an easy thing to find in our world anymore. It's a unique place because it is so far away from the rest of the world. There is a sense of isolation and also being protected. Elijah Wood
Shop till you drop in Auckland  

Being New Zealand's busiest city, it's unsurprising that Auckland plays host to some of its most best shopping areas. From high quality boutiques to vintage stores, from big name labels to traditional Maori designs, you will find it all on the streets of Auckland.
With so much on offer, however, it is worth knowing a bit about the various shopping districts before you head out. Here is the low down on the main places to shop in the city.
The Britomart Precinct
The first place that will pop into most Auckland natives' heads when you say shopping is Britomart. By the gorgeous and historic waterfront, you can find lots of great, high fashion outlets. Of all the shopping precincts it's almost certainly the best one for choice, with both the quirky, the trendy, the cheap and the haute couture available. The biggest shopping gallery is the Atrium on Takutai, which plays host to Ted Baker and MAC Pro. What's even better, once you're finished shopping you can relax in one of the many bars and restaurants nearby.
Ponsonby
While Britomart might be more popular, there is nowhere hipper to do your shopping in Auckland than Ponsonby. This is where you'll find the more out there outlets and the quirky stores, stuffed with clothing from some of the country's coolest designers. If you're looking to furnish your flat and looking for something funky, you'll find some supercool kitchenware and furniture. Or, if you prefer, just sit down at one of the cafes, grab a coffee and watch the local colour as it marches up and down the street.
Newmarket
So if Britomart is the busiest and Ponsonby is the coolest, then what kind of shopping district is Newmarket? It's the swankiest, that's what. Here is where the most glamorous stores in Auckland call home and where the most fashionable and, let's face it, richest shoppers go to pick up designer wares. As well as stores from designers such as Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester, it also boasts 24 shoe stores.
Remuera
Remuera is a great place to go for stylish stores. Located in a suburb of Auckland known for its sophisticated residents, it's a great place to shop if you like to relax as you shop. The stores are always busy but never jammed and you can stroll from shop to shop down the elegant streets at your leisure.

 

The best of Auckland galleries  

New Zealand's biggest city is a terrific place to see famous, innovative and exciting art from the past and present. Whether you want to see sculpture, traditional carving or modern pieces, you will find what you are after in Auckland's galleries. This guide will tell you everything about our favourite ones.
Auckland Museum
Housed in one of the country's most beautiful historical buildings, the Auckland Museum is a great place to find out more about the rich history of New Zealand. With traditional art from the Pacific people and carvings, canoes and other Maori artefacts, you can truly feel the history of the country open up to you inside its atmospheric walls. If you wanted to find out how New Zealand became the multicultural land it is today, this is a very good starting point.
The Connells Bay Sculpture Park
The Connells Bay Sculpture Park is a great place to see works from some of the country's most famous sculptors, including Graham Bennett, Virginia King and Phil Price. The collection is growing all the time but, last we checked, it housed 25 pieces in every material you could name. Wear comfy shoes if you are heading there for the day. A two hour guided tour will lead you through thick bush and farmland.
The Upstairs Art Gallery
One of the city's best loved exhibition spaces, the Upstairs Gallery is a great place to find challenging work from up and coming artists and exhibitions of community art. It's free to enter and open every day, making it a cheap and interesting way to while away an hour or two.
The West Coast Gallery
Located on Seaview Road, Piha, this is one of the most exciting hubs for Auckland art. Here you can find work of all kinds of disciplines, from photography to ceramics to jewellery to books. It is well worth checking the local listings to see what's on at the West Coast Gallery – there's a great calendar of superb exhibitions and events held regularly.
Peter Raos Gallery
Peter Raos is one of Auckland's best loved artists. A glass artist, he is famous for creating elegant creations inspired by nature and plant life. Here at his gallery, you can enjoy some of his best work and speak to the man himself.

 

The highlights of NZ Fringe Festival  

One of the most fun-filled cultural events on New Zealand's calendar is the Fringe Festival that will be taking place between  10 February – 4 March 2017, all across Wellington. An open access festival of art, music, comedy, cabaret and everything in between, it serves as a reminder as to why Wellington is considered the ‘Capital of Cool' by locals and visitors alike.
The Fringe Festival itself has now been running for over two decades, and has emerged as one of the most envied and enjoyed fringe festivals anywhere in the world. What makes this event different to the numerous other such events that take place around the planet, is that the New Zealand Fringe has never lost touch with its roots. It is still a great place to find out-there art, up and coming talent and truly cutting edge performances. This makes it one of the most important factors in keeping Wellington the hive of innovation and creativity that it is today.
Amongst the famous acts and performers that have emerged from the Fringe are the Flight of the Conchords, the Lonesome Buckwhips and Strike Percussion. If you want to see this year's big performers, then make sure you are in Wellington by February 10th.
Listing all the highlights is simply not possible in such a short space. There are simply too many to name. Fringe is about grass-roots arts and culture and about emerging, developing talent, and for 25 years the New Zealand Fringe Festival has been providing a stage for cutting-edge creative endeavors, delivering on our legacy of being a catalyst for new and original homegrown arts and entertainment.
Fringe is recognised as a unique launch pad for the arts in New Zealand, and from Flight of the Conchords to Fuse Circus, Jo Randerson to Eli Kent, and Strike Percussion to Footnote Dance, the Fringe has played a significant role in helping emerging artists to achieve bigger and brighter things, both within New Zealand and on the international stage.
Artist registrations for Fringe 2017 have closed, but check the NZ Fringe facebook page back regularly as more information about Fringe Festival 2017 is COMING SOON.
  
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