New Zealand's Midsummer March Madness

by Dominic - 02/03/2012 11:03:00
While the British sun is still trying to make its first feeble appearance, peeking out behind a rain cloud before being blown back in by a bitter wind, New Zealand's summer is still keeping the days long and the nights warm.

While summer may be starting to wind down, there's still plenty to do across the country, here's a couple of things going on this month:


"Funny, it didn't seem that painful when you
did it to the horse."


Chances are you're a fan of fashion, horses, posh stuff or money so why not head on down to Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland this weekend and indulge in all four? Auckland's most popular racing site hosts three of the poshest, most stylish and most lucrative races south of Hong Kong during March, and you could be there to stick a dollar or two on each way.

First up this Saturday (the 3rd) is Derby Day which features three races, including the NZ$750,000 (£400,000) Telecom New Zealand Derby. Next up is one of New Zealand's most prestigious events: the Auckland Cup Day on the 7, March. The Auckland Cup hosts more people with more money than most countries' deficits, although there are still plenty of general tickets still on sale for us commoners.

Lastly is the Diamond Day which needs no explanation as it couldn't sound more ridiculously exclusive if it was called the You'll Never Be Good Enough to Get in Here Day. The advertised tickets range in price from NZ$10 (£5), for people with two jets or less, to NZ$200 (£105) for those who get to eat the horse if it doesn't win.


Everyone likes a laugh, whether it's a joke you just told or a person you hate getting punched repeatedly in the face, it always brightens your day. If you want 11 days brightened this March, head on down to Dunedin on the South Island for the Dunedin Fringe Festival between the 15th and 25th.

Spread across the city the festival takes in everything from internationally renowned comedy acts to bizarre experimental stuff which could cause you to have an epiphany and change your life for the better by moving to the underside of a bridge somewhere and asking everyone to call you 'Whelp'. Or it could just be something worth seeing for its weirdness.


If you're British, rowing is the sport of people who aren't rich enough to do nothing at all with their lives but too rich to risk ruining their coif with a contact sport. Everywhere else however, rowing is a fun, team sport where you don't need to be Oxford educated to know how to put a stick in some water.

The Wellington Dragon Boat Festival is the perfect example of this egalitarian event which everyone can enjoy and not just wish they'd worked harder in school at. Taking place over the weekend of the 17th and 18th, the festival not only involves races with up to 75 participants but includes plenty of things to do on shore including food stalls, games and music.


Criticise him and we're gonna have words.

Top Shows

Show me a person who doesn't love David Attenborough and I'll show you a liar or a freak (but most likely just a lying freak), the man could explain to you the subtleties of paint drying while a supermodel narrowly escapes a six car pileup in the background and you'd still come out listing the fascinating differences between the viscosities of emulsion and gloss.

So now we've established that you're a diehard Attenborough fan, if you're in Auckland on the 8th, head on over to Henderson for a documentary entitled 'Death of the Oceans' which, as David Attenborough is narrating, will leave you in no doubt the errors of humanity's ways.

Rock shows

Festivals are to family camping holidays what unrestricted internet access is to the Beano; an unadulterated and uncontrolled weekend of craze where no one sleeps, everyone is best friends and no one remembers anything - you DON'T remember right?

So, if it's been a while since you got your last festival fix, WOMAD New Zealand could be just the dose you need. Taking place from the 16th to the 18th in Taranaki, WOMAD has acts from all over New Zealand and Australia as well as Europe, Africa, the UK and America.

Nose goes

If you're one of the poor unfortunate souls who are permanently bunged up then not only are you missing out on the most evocative of sense, but everybody hates you for your continuous sniffing as well. If you know your bouquets from your buckets though, your lemon zests from your orange zests and your Shiraz from your chardonnays then New Zealand is the place for you.

New Zealand is almost as famous for its wines as it is for its rugby team, its Lord of the Rings scenery and its citizens' annoyance at people always assuming they're from Australia so why not indulge in New Zealand's most sophisticated of exports at the Hilltop Wines Sunset Concert?

Held at the Hilltop Vineyard in Hamilton on the 24th of March, the concert not only offers the chance to sample some of New Zealand's most delectable delights but also enjoy some relaxing jazz and blues music while the sun goes down. What else do you want from an evening sniffy?


If you've indulged perhaps a little too much on your travels, the backpacker diet of nothing and beer hasn't quite taken its toll just yet then maybe a little exercise is just what you need.

The New Zealand Ocean Swim series holds its next event on Saturday 10th March in Mount Maugnaui, one of the most idyllic places in the world to push yourself to the physical limit and swallow too much saltwater, or just have a nice relaxing swim round one of the country's most beautiful bays.

The State Sand to Surf includes the 'I'm Going Long' event which is over 2.5km long and is for the most competitive while the 'Give it a Go' 300m course is for those who quite fancy taking a stab at ocean swimming.

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is Online Editor with the New Zealand Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to New Zealand.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

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