Things to do in New Zealand in 2023-2024

Things to do on your 2023-24 Aotearoa New Zealand vacation tour

Spring cherry blossomsSpring has sprung in Aotearoa New Zealand. Blossoms on the trees and sun on our backs has us thinking about things to do in New Zealand over the coming touring season. There is always lots to see and do but every new month offers attractions and events to add colour to your time here.

So, what’s happening in NZ over the coming months that your tour could include?

October 2023

In October, New Zealand experiences the transition from spring to early summer, making it an ideal time for various outdoor activities. (But bring a coat and another layer just in case — a snow storm might blow through the day after a sunny 20 degree day in some regions.)  Here are some popular things to do in the New Zealand spring:

Cherry Blossom Viewing – Many regions in NZ — and especially stone fruit growing regions such as Hawkes Bay and Central Otago — come alive with cherry blossoms in spring. These delicate pink and white blooms create a stunning backdrop for picnics and leisurely walks

Royal Albatross in New ZealandHiking and trekking – The generally milder weather in October is perfect for exploring New Zealand’s diverse landscapes. Consider hiking in the Tongariro National Park, exploring the Abel Tasman Coastal Track or taking on the more challenging Route Burn Track. And if you’re not into longer hikes (or “tramps” as you’ll hear Kiwis say) there are almost endless short walks to enjoy as you tour.

Whale jumping out of the water off Kaikoura, NZWildlife Encounters – Spring is a great time for wildlife enthusiasts. Looking for iconic encounters? Visit the Otago Peninsula to see the Royal Albatross. Take a whale-watching tour in Kaikoura to spot sperm whales and dolphins. Get up close to a kiwi (our national bird, in this instance). Take a break from Hawkes Bay wine food and blossoms tosee a Gannet Colony. Or simply stop your car, or ask the coach driver to pull over, so you can enjoy watching spring lambs gambolling in lush green road side paddocks.



November 2023

New Zealand transitions from Spring to Summer with milder temperatures and longer daylight hours. It offers the perfect blend of outdoor activities, cultural experiences and natural beauty. Be sure to check out local event calendars and regional tourism organisations to find more information of what you can do when you are visiting certain areas.

Toast MartinboroughToast Martinborough – Toast Martinborough is a popular wine and food festival held annually in the lower North Island wine region.  It offers an opportunity to sample a wide range of wines, pairing those with local gourmet dishes and a fantastic way to experience New Zealand’s culinary delights.

With live music and entertainment, vineyard tours, art exhibitions, and a shuttle service moving you around, the town of Martinborough comes alive making it the perfect setting for all ages. Many Martinborough wineries prioritise sustainable and eco-friendly practices, which are often highlighted at the festival.

The Canterbury A&P Show – “What’s an A&P show?” you ask. Few events are more quintessentially Kiwi than an Agricultural & Pastoral Show. They offer a rambunctious mix of trade show, fun fair, amusement park, church fete, festival, competitive animal show and horse jumping competition. Traditionally, “the show” is a time for rural communities to show off their best animals, socialise, see performances from local groups, eat a sausage on a stick or candy floss. They come in all sizes. But the Canterbury show is the biggest in the South Island and a highlight of spring in Christchurch.

December 2023

Abel Tasman national park walkSpending Christmas in New Zealand can be refreshing and a delightful experience. Very different from the Northern Hemisphere holiday  is offers a different festive experience. Embrace the warm weather, outdoor festivities and the friendly kiwi hospitality for a memorable Christmas down under. December is the official start of the Aotearoa summer but not yet holiday time for locals so it can be a nice time to tour

Warm Weather Celebrations – Christmas in New Zealand falls during the summer season. Many Kiwis celebrate Christmas with barbeques, beaches and picnics in the park. Imagine a similar amount of festive food but lots more salads and swimming.

Indeed, you should seriously consider spending Christmas Day is at one of New Zealand’s stunning beaches. Popular beach destinations like Mount Maunganui, Piha or the Abel Tasman offer a relaxed and beautiful setting for a festive day by the water. Explore local Christmas markets to shop for handmade crafts, artisanal goods and unique gifts. These markets often have a cheerful and festive atmosphere.

TSS Earnslaw summer cruiseTravelling around Christmas – Keep in mind that some businesses and attractions may be closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (December 26th). It’s a good idea to plan ahead for accommodation, activities and meals accordingly. Something we can help with if you’re planning a self drive holiday and taken care of on a Christmas coach tour.

Christmas in NZ and specific tours – We offer a number of tours in December, including Christmas specifically, where you can take in all the highlights of South Island in a fully escorted tour. Options include the 11 Day Ultimate South Island Christmas with Grand Pacific Ultimate small group tours or, a larger group tour, the 11 Day Signature South Island Christmas Tour (including Christmas lunch on a historic Lake Wakatipu steam shop the TSS Earnslaw).

January 2024

There are a number of things to see and do during January. That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that local children are on school holidays, and most NZ families spend most of the month holidaying. With the main centres relatively empty and easy to get around, January is a good time to explore NZ’s cities:

ASB Classic – The year kicks off in Auckland with the ASB Classic tennis tournament that serves the world’s top players as a warm up events for the Australian Open. Combine some tennis viewing with exploring “the city of sails” before or after a tour.

Christchurch Buskers FestivalBread & Circus – World Buskers Festival – The Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival is an exciting and vibrant event held annually in Christchurch, New Zealand. This festival celebrates street performance, comedy, music, circus acts and various forms of live entertainment. Enjoy diverse performances in multiple venues, with both indoor and street shows.

This event is family friendly, offering food and beverage, interactive workshops with a festival atmosphere. While some performances are free, others may require tickets, especially for indoor shows. Check out the official website or box office for more information on ticketing and show schedules.

February 2024

February is a great time to visit New Zealand. The weather is more settled in the middle of summer and locals are back at school and work. You can expect warm and sunny weather, perfect for swimming, sunbathing and taking in the beautiful outdoor terrain.

With plenty to see and do, including adventure sports like bungee jumping, skydiving, and jet boating, New Zealand comes alive in the summer months! And February is often the best of the summer months with lots of events to enjoy.

Marlborough wine and food festivalMarlborough Wine and Food Festival – The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is a celebrated annual event held in Blenheim, New Zealand, which is the heart of the Marlborough wine region. The festival is a showcase of Marlborough’s world-famous wines, particularly it’s renowned Sauvignon Blanc.

Sample a wide array of wines from local wineries and taste some of the best wines in the country. With entertainment, seminars & masterclasses, art and craft stalls, this is the perfect event to immerse yourself in the region’s wine and culinary culture while enjoying live music and the stunning Marlborough scenery.

March 2024

March, although cooler and officially the start of Aotearoa’s autumn, is another good month to tour the country. Less busy than February March is a month of festivals and many celebrations of local produce.

Hokitika Wild Foods Festival – The Wild Foods Festival is a celebration of local produce with a difference. It’ll tempt or test your taste buds with foods you may not find anywhere else in the world. Stallholders offer everything from huhu grubs to gorse flower wine and “premier entertainment”.

Aerobatic display at Warbirds Over WanakaWarbirds over Wanaka 2024 – Staged every second Easter, Warbirds Over Wanaka is a renowned airshow and aviation event held in Wanaka, New Zealand. This event features a wide array of vintage and contemporary aircraft and you can witness thrilling aerobatic displays, precision flying and formation flights performed by skilled pilots.

It showcases a diverse range of aircraft, including class warbirds from World War II, historic military planes and even modern military aircraft. This family friendly event is an excellent opportunity for families to enjoy the excitement of aviation together, with local food stalls, entertainment and vintage fashion.

April 2024

Otago Farmers' MarketApril in New Zealand offers a pleasant autumn/fall experience. Autumn touring offers cooler temperatures and colourful autumn trees, particularly in the South Island. The weather is generally quite settled and there are often crisp, clear blue skies.  There’s plenty to see and do and less crowds at popular attractions and destinations.

Wanaka Framers' MarketConsider walking around local parks and gardens. Admire the autumn foliage, with the South Island renowned for the leaves changing to shades of red, orange and yellow. Or go hiking in our national parks before winter sets in.

Autumn Markets are also a popular attraction. Explore farmers markets, and local fairs and sample fresh produce, artisanal goods and unique New Zealand products. The south of the South Island is particularly blessed with autumnal colours at the time of the year. It also offers many chances to sample local produce:

More things to do in New Zealand

We’ve, as the cliche goes, “barely scratched the surface” of the pool of attractions and things to do in the coming New Zealand spring and summer months. Contact a tour specialist to find out more about building an self drive itinerary around events that interest you.