The best autumn festivals and events around NZ

Eat, Drink, Play in Wellington is an autumn event for all the family. Photo / Supplied, Amanda Photography

With outdoor gathering limits removed, autumn and early winter festivals and events finally have the green light. For many events, it will be their first time running in two years— and for some, it will be their first time ever.

Here’s what you should get out of the house for, from now until Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Art in the Park Greymouth

April 30 – May 1
Greymouth High School Gymnasium

Attracting artists from across Aotearoa, Art in the Park is the social event of the season for the West Coast community of Greymouth. More than 35 artists will have their wares on display and for sale, including local greenstone carver Marlene Trounson, Christchurch landscape artist Louise Thwaites, and felt maker Jan Fraser. Entry is $2 and free for kids. artinthepark.nz

Art in the Park is the social event that the season in Greymouth.  Photo / Supplied, Development West Coast
Art in the Park is the social event that the season in Greymouth. Photo / Supplied, Development West Coast

Open CHCH

April 30 – May 1
Venues across Christchurch

A celebration of the Garden City’s historic and contemporary architecture, Open CHCH takes visitors behind the scenes of 41 buildings, ranging from the former Addington Gaol to the humble but mighty Brooklands Lagoon Public Toilet. Guided walks (bookable for a small fee of $5), expert talks, audio tours and workshops are also on offer. openchch.nz

Open CHCH is a celebration of the Garden City's historic and contemporary architecture.  Photo / Christchurch NZ, Supplied
Open CHCH is a celebration of the Garden City’s historic and contemporary architecture. Photo / Christchurch NZ, Supplied

Eat, Drink, Play

May 6 – 29
Venues across Wellington

Wellington’s newest festival celebrates the city’s best craft brewers, winemakers, bartenders, musicians and performers. Around 150 venues are set to take part, creating Wellington-themed meal and drink pairings. Learn to make gin with Aurora Distillery, participate in an ABBA singalong at Honey Badger, glamp up for a Rocky Horror Picture Show party, or attend a wine masterclass. Some events are ticketed, but there are plenty of family-friend and free activities, too, such as Kids Movieoke. eatdrinkplay.co.nz

Nadia Reid will be performing at the Lilypad Concer in Auckland.  Photo / File
Nadia Reid will be performing at the Lilypad Concer in Auckland. Photo / File

Lilypad Concert

May 7
Lilyworld, Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

Alternative act The Veils and indie folk star Nadia Reid are just part of the line-up at this all-ages event. It’s the first of what will be an ongoing music series at the new Lilyworld venue, Penrose’s newest garden bar and eatery. Tickets are free, but a donation to the charity MusicHelps is encouraged.
aucklandstadiums.co.nz/event/lilypad-concert

Around Brunner Cycle Ride

May 7
moana

Now in its 15th year, this annual race sees road cyclists complete a 130km circuit of smooth roads around the scenic and serene Lake Brunner. Not quite hardcore enough for you? This year, an “enduro” option of 260km will also be available. Entry fees start at $99, with more than $1500 in prize money up for grabs.
aroundbrunner.co.nz

The T42 takes runners, cyclists, and walkers into Tongariro National Park.  Photo / Supplied, Ruapehu
The T42 takes runners, cyclists, and walkers into Tongariro National Park. Photo / Supplied, Ruapehu

T42 Central Plateau

May 7
National Park Village, Ruapehu

This award-winning event takes runners, cyclists, and walkers into Tongariro National Park with its 6km to 24km trail run/walks, trail marathon, and 48km mountain bike races, where even e-bikes are allowed. Registration closes May 5, with entry fees ranging from $35 to $158, dependent on the event of your choosing.
t42.co.nz

The Big Bike Movie Night

May 11
Wānaka Community Hub

Wānaka’s celebration of all things two-wheeled is rolling into town, showcasing the best cycling short films from around the world. This year’s picks include one man’s journey from India to Germany on a tandem bike, where he picks up strangers along the way who share stories of modern slavery. Also notable are flicks on a group who are learning to unicycle, and one small school’s ambitious plan to increase student’s hauora (health and wellbeing) through cycling. Tickets are $22.50 for adults; $17.50 for youth aged 12-17 and $12.50 for those under 12.
bigbikefilmnight.nz

Bay of Islands Country Rock Festival

May 13-15
Multiple venues in Paihia and Russell

Yee-haw! This year’s Bay of Island’s Country Rock Festival is back, featuring more than 40 country and honky-tonk bands from across the country. Weekend passes for official venues start at $64.70, but if you’re feeling a little thrifty (in true country music spirit), street performers will be in strumming away Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Sunday morning. boimusicfestivals.com/country-rock

Go behind the scenes at Juno Gin and other Taranaki producers for Taste and Tales.  Photo / Taranaki, Supplied
Go behind the scenes at Juno Gin and other Taranaki producers for Taste and Tales. Photo / Taranaki, Supplied

Taste and Tales

May 14-15 or May 21-22
Across Taranaki

There are eight guided, behind-the-scenes food trails to choose from at this multi-weekend event, with venues across Taranaki. You’ll have the opportunity to taste local foods and meet directly with producers, such as award-winning gin distillers Juno Gin, family apiarists Egmont Honey, tea makers Magic Tea and coffee roastery IncaFe. Each tour costs $135, inclusive of transportation, lunch, tours, and tastings. tasteandtales.co.nz

Auckland Art Show

May 19-22
The Cloud, 89 Quay St, Auckland

The North Island’s largest art sales event of the year, this is your chance to see and buy work showcased by more than 120 of the country’s best painters, potters, sculptors, and ceramicists, with pieces priced from $20 to $10,000. Tickets are $12 at the door or $6 in advance, with children under 10 free.
aucklandlive.co.nz/show/the-auckland-art-show

Hand Holding Young Kiwi: Whangarei Quarry Gardens are home to Sculpture Northland.  Photo / Supplied
Hand Holding Young Kiwi: Whangarei Quarry Gardens are home to Sculpture Northland. Photo / Supplied

Sculpture Northland

May 20-29
Whangārei Quarry Gardens

Held for the first time since 2019, Sculpture Northland sees Whangārei Quarry Gardens transformed into a spectacular outdoor art exhibition. More than 100 sculptures will be on display by emerging and recognized Northland sculptors, ceramicists, carvers, and potters. Before you leave, don’t forget to vote for your favorite in the people’s choice awards. Entry costs $10 for adults and $5 for children aged 5 to 12. whangareigardens.org.nz/sculpture-northland

Urban Wine Walk

May 28
Queenstown

This urban wine crawl eliminates the need to find a designated driver. Self-guided and entirely on foot, you’ll spend the afternoon visiting 10 different venues, each of which will feature a local winemaker showcasing the best wines from the Central Otago wine region. The $75 ticket includes a whopping 30 complimentary tastings, a $25 voucher for event day wine orders, a $10 food voucher, and an official event tasting glass. urbanwinewalk.com.au

Chardonnay Affair

May 26-29
Tairāwhiti Gisborne

If you haven’t already been celebrating International Chardonnay Weekend (yes, it’s a thing), then it’s time to get on-board — on-board the Chardonnay Express, that is. Departing from the Gisborne railway station, the historic steam train will travel towards Muriwai, offering you the chance to connect with winemakers ($150pp). Other events include an all-white long lunch at Bushmere Estate ($200pp). thechardonnayaffair.co.nz

Vegetable celebrations don't come much bigger than the Ohakune Carrot Carnival.  Photo / Ruapehu, Supplied
Vegetable celebrations don’t come much bigger than the Ohakune Carrot Carnival. Photo / Ruapehu, Supplied

Ohakune Carrot Carnival

June 4
Thames Street, Ohakune

A staple of kids’ lunchboxes and snack platters since the inception of lunch, the humble root vegetable deserves an entire day in its honor — and there’s no better place for it than in New Zealand’s carrot capital. Expect Growers Games, entertainment for kids, street stalls and, of course, plenty of carrot cake. facebook.com/ohakunecarrotcarnival

For more travel inspiration, go to newzealand.com/nz.

Check traffic light settings and Ministry of Health advice before travel at covid19.govt.nz

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