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New Zealand Music Festivals

Top 7 local events to check out this summer

New Zealand (NZ) commonly conjures up images of rolling green hills, snow-capped peaks, rugged coastlines, artisanal foods and tasty wines, but what about music? Perhaps lesser-known on the international stage is its thriving local music scene, headed up by Lorde and Kimbra, the dub bands Fat Freddy’s Drop and the Black Seeds, plus a bevy of lesser-known but popular local acts, like Katchafire, Cornerstone Roots, Kora, Tahuna Breaks, Pitch Black, Shapeshifter and Salmonella Dub. Not to mention the comedy folk duo Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, better known as the men behind the wildly popular HBO series Flight of the Conchords. In fact, one of the best excuses you have for touring this great land down south is catching the myriad music festivals that pop up around the country from December through April from north to south and coast to coast. Here we highlight some of the best for you…

Night Time shot w/ purple stage with green fireworks overhead

Rhythm and Vines

What: Five stages and 70 local and international artists surrounded by vineyards and lush rolling hills. This year’s line-up promises the likes of Angus & Julia Stone, Jupiter Project and David Dallas. What’s more, as the festival takes place on the East Coast of NZ, you’ll be one of the first people in the world to the see the first sunrise of 2016!
Where: Waiohika Estate Vineyard, Gisborne. This truly picturesque town is lucky enough to occupy a beautiful and remote part of New Zealand. This isolated, compact, easy to navigate city is perched on the most easterly edge of the country and surrounded by world-class surf beaches, quality vineyards, citrus groves, magnificent trees and wild rivers that meander towards empty beaches.
When: 29 – 31 December 2015
Stay: We don’t have any Accor in Gisborne; your closest port of call is Auckland to the north. We recommend you spend a comfy night at the Novotel Auckland Airport or ibis Budget Auckland Airport before making the drive or flight to Gisborne.
Mountains and camp site with bright orange sky

Rhythm and Alps

What: If big mountains, beautiful lakes and bountiful tunes are your thing, then don’t miss this unique music festival, with one of the most stunning locations ever. This short and sweet two-day camping festival held in the South Island is an absolute must for music and nature buffs. Rudimental and Bastille have played in recent years and the 2015 line-up is tipped to be massive.
Where: Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka. Cardrona is renowned for its lake, mountains and ski fields. It’s also nearby to Central Otago wine region, famous for its pinot noir. Queenstown is just a short drive away and is an adventure playground, with jet boating, bungee jumping, trekking and more on offer for the adventurous.
When: 30 – 31 December 2015
Tickets & Info: www.rhythmandalps.co.nz
Stay: Sofitel Queenstown Resort & Spa, Hotel St Moritz Queenstown, Novotel Queenstown Lakeside, Mercure Queenstown Resort, Mercure Oakridge Wanaka
Harbourside with two large silos

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival

What: One of New Zealand’s most beloved music festivals, which has a sister event in Australia, is set to kick 2016 off in style. Previous artists have included Angus & Julia Stone, Banks and Belle & Sebastian. The next round promises everything from pioneering artists at the top of their game to acts they’re tipping to break through next year, such as Grimes, Flume and Beach House.
Where: Silo Park, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland; a great central location overlooking the water. Auckland is the largest and most populated urban centre in New Zealand and its vast harbour, quiet islands and vibrant cityscape offer an exciting and accessible mix of urban, water and outdoor activities, not to mention world-class dining and shopping.
When: 1 February 2016
Stay: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour (5min walk from the venue), The Sebel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, The Sebel Quay West Auckland, Pullman Auckland, Mercure Auckland, ibis Styles Auckland
White-dressed party-goers at the beach


What: Simply put Splore is a boutique music and arts festival like no other, defined as: ‘Merry making festivities, carousing and frolicking or a good going session’. In layman’s terms, it’s a three-day festival favoured by NZ locals. It is a little more low-ley and takes place on the shores of the Tapapakanga area, located just 50 km south-west of Auckland.
Where: Tapapakanga Regional Park. Country meets coast at gorgeous Tapapakanga, with a dash of Māori and European history. Tapapakanga is a working coastal farm as well as a regional park – one minute you could be walking past farm animals and the next you’ll see rare coastal wildlife. This is a great spot to come, check out and chill out…
When: 19 – 21 February 2016
Tickets & Info: www.splore.net
Stay: We have 10 hotels ranging from budget to luxury in Auckland, that can provide you with a bit of comfort before you make the hour-long drive to the festival site and commence your camping.
Large crowd in front of outdoor stage


What: The World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) brings together a melting pot of styles and artists from across the globe. For its 10th anniversary the festival is promising Kimbra, who will appear in her first NZ performance in over a year, Latin singer Concha Buika, American roots artist Pokey LaFarge, Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group Arrested Development, Tunisian protest singer Emel Mathlouthi, Japanese funk orchestra Osaka Monaurail, multilingual seven-piece French roots-reggae revivalists Dub Inc from France and Algeria and heaps more!
Where: TSB Arena and Brooklands Bowl, New Plymouth. The city of New Plymouth is known for its sunny climate, art galleries and beautiful parks. The conical shape of Mount Taranaki provides a dramatic backdrop to the city. You may also like to stroll along the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, a 10km promenade with stunning views.
When: March 18 – 20 2016
Tickets & Info: http://womad.org/
Stay: At the brand new Novotel New Plymouth Hobson
Night time shot of blue harbour with city lights

Auckland City Limits Festival

What: Inspired by and aligned with the world-class Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas, the event will feature a diverse line-up of major international music stars and local talent. The one-day event will showcase 40 artists from across a broad range of musical genres as well as feature outstanding culinary options, local artworks, an artisanal market, festival fashion, kids zone and a festival forum for exchanging cultural and innovative ideas.
Where: Western Springs Stadium, the surrounding fields and lakeside park. Lying in a residential suburb to the west of Auckland, the stadium is an entertainment venue consisting of a natural amphitheatre that can house 30,000 people and makes for the perfect outdoor music venue.
When: 19 March 2016
Stay: With 10 Auckland hotels to choose from, we’ve something to suit every taste and budget.
Large crown at an outdoor concert with bright sun and red flags


What: Probably one of New Zealand's longest-running and most popular music festivals, with seven stages and 57 acts rocking out, this is the ultimate festival to check out local Kiwi music. This year festival-goers can look forward to a day of Shapeshifter, Six60, Kora, Katchafire and much more, all taking place on the last day of daylight savings, so you’ll be able to sign off summer with a massive festival bang!
Where: Wellington Harbour. Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, sits near the North Island’s southernmost point on the Cook Strait. A compact city, it encompasses a waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour and colourful timber houses on surrounding hills. It’s a great base from which to explore many wonderful outdoor attractions on offer within the surrounding area.
When: 2 April 2016
Tickets & Info: www.homegrown.net.nz
Stay: Grand Mercure Wellington, Novotel Wellington, Mercure Wellington, Mercure Wellington Abel Tasman and ibis Wellington.
Photo credits: Paul Hoelen Photography, Robert Charles – Taranaki Daily News

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