Winter is coming! What are the must-dos for locals and visitors? In no particular order, check out our top 5 things to do this winter.
Winter F.A.W.C! – Food and Wine Classic | Hawkes Bay | 3rd – 26th June
F.A.W.C! is a delicious event over four tasty weekends of “out of the box” food and wine experiences, set in spectacular locations throughout Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Locations include Black Barn, The Mission, Elephant Hill Winery, Ten Twenty Four, Mister D Dining and Craggy Range Winery and many more. All of these locations offer a unique and remarkable experience filled with delicious and adventurous food coupled with exquisite wine.
Our 5 favourite picks for this years F.A.W.C! include:
- Elephant Hills‘ ‘The Dark Horse’ – This event sees the first release of Elephant Hill’s premium 2013 Gimblett Vineyard Syrah. This Syrah is the liquid gold of Elephant Hill and is only available from Elephant Hill. It will be presented alongside the Estate, Reserve and Icon Syrah along with a range of the Te Awanga Vineyard white wines and an exceptional four course dinner crafted by Head Chef Ashley Jones. Ticket include a glass of wine on arrival, four course dinner and wines to match.
- ‘The Secret World of Chocolate’ – Calling all chocolate lovers…! This event is a chocolate workshop with The Picnic‘s head baker and chocolate maestro Chris Mirams. It includes a tasting of different types of chocolate and you will learn how to make chocolates and have some fun with chocolate decoration. Chocolatiers will also take home a gift box of chocolates.
- ‘Napier Night Fiesta’ – This is a very popular one night only event where Emerson Street becomes alive with a mass of buzzing street vendors and tasty street eats. There is live music and lots of activities to entertain everyone. Get along and enjoy a beer or wine, a bit of a boogie and the many delicious goodies on offer.
- Milk and Honey’s ‘Dumpling Den’ – This is a must in our books because who doesn’t love dumplings?! Think siu mai, cheong fun, gyoza, steamed buns, and dumplings with a delicious twist. With a specially crafted cocktail list, inspired by the flavours and cocktail bars of Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, and beyond, this night is a recipe for success.
- An evening at Elephant Hill’s Lodge – Elephant Hill Winery and Restaurant offers you the opportunity for an evening at The Lodge, an exclusive private home. Positioned on the hill behind the winery, The Lodge is an elegant and beautiful living experience with spectacular views over the vineyards, into the vast Pacific Ocean and the iconic land form of Cape Kidnappers. Chef’s from the award-winning winery will cater for you at the Lodge, preparing an exquisite 7 course dinner with perfectly matched Elephant Hill wines.
To find out more about each F.A.W.C! event see the official events list.
American Express Winter Festival | Queenstown | 24th June – 3rd July
Queenstown is captivatingly stunning and and a blast at any time of the year but when New Zealand’s biggest winter festival is on, there’s nowhere else to be.
The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival is an iconic 10-day celebration. It began in 1975 when a group of locals decided that the start of winter was a good excuse for a party and we’re sure you don’t disagree! It is one of the highlights of winter in Queenstown and brings visitors from all over the world to experience the action of winter sports and to become immersed in the buzzing Mardi Gras atmosphere that encompasses the town from the mountain slopes to the bustling town centre.
The festivities celebrate Queenstown’s unique culture and community with mountain races, street parties, fireworks, international and local acts, jazz & comedy, Mardi Gras, family fun and plenty of entertaining activities on the region’s legendary ski slopes. If snow sports is your thing we recommend you head to the Remarkables for the Slopestyle Invitational to watch some of New Zealand’s best skiers and snowboarders showing off their moves. Or if you’re after a laugh and a bit of quirky fun you could visit Coronet Peak for the Auckland Airport Suitcase Race, where the young and playful zoom down the slopes in suitcases.
Don’t miss out on the Southern Hemisphere’s best winter party, book your tickets now!
Mid-Winter Christmas | Alexandra Park, Auckland | Friday 26th June & 3rd, 10th & 17th July
This Auckland event hosts mid Winter Christmas at the Races! It’s the perfect excuse to get together with friends, family and colleagues for a night of fun. We recommend booking a hospitality package where you can reserve your spot and enjoy the hospitality, beautifully themed room, racing action and warming festive treats. These packages start from only $65pp and range to $145pp for the prime viewing package.
All of these packages include:
- A complimentary drink on arrival
- $5 bet voucher for each guest
- Delicious buffet dinner
- Reserved tables for you and your guests
- Free parking
- Spot prizes on the night
- Live entertainment after the last race
- Race book
For more information check out Alexandra Park Racing.
The New Zealand Mountain Film Festival | Queenstown | 1st – 19th July
The New Zealand Mountain Film Festival is a combination of events run over five days in the alpine village of Wanaka (july 1st to 5th), Cromwell (on July 6th) and also three days in Queenstown (on July 7th to 9th). The NZ Mountain Film Festival is a non-profit registered charitable trust. It is a New Zealand made festival which began in 2002 and it is now internationally recognised as one of the world’s premier mountain film festival events. It has an international adventure film maker’s competition and a highly regarded NZ made film division.
Activities over the 5 days include:
- International and NZ made adventure film competition
- Viewing of the film finalist
- Mountain Book & Literature competition and events
- Awards night with films, winning film previews and live Music
- NZ & International Guest speakers
- Workshops and book readings
- Two Day Adventure Film School and Adventure Writing School
- Adventure trade show
- Art exhibitions
- Photography Competition
- Best of Wanaka National Film Tour – The festival takes the award winning films to audiences around NZ immediately after the festival ends in July. A selection of the films are available for screenings in your town and hosts in regions around the country choose a programme from a selection of films on adventure, culture, environment and action sports.
For more information see the programme here.
Merino Muster | Wanaka | 3rd September
Wanaka’s Merino Muster is where epic ski terrain and magnificent views met pure excitement to create New Zealand’s premier cross country skiing event . It is an annual event that is a must do on any cross country skier’s bucket list. It is a FREE event and celebrates the Snow Farm’s history as a high country sheep station. Represented by the name, the race symbolizes the tradition of mustering sheep from the high mountain tops to lower elevations at the start of winter. The event is all about participation and has a category for every ability level, catering for beginner cross country skiers to the elite national team skiers. If your not keen to participate, just head along to watch and you can see top international skiers competing.
There are four events on race day. Take your pick depending on your fitness and experience:
- 42 km Merino Muster – this marathon is for the serious skier and covers the full 21km course before heading around the spectacular Hanging Valley trail and then finishes with another trip over The Loop before finishing in-front of the day lodge.
- 21 km Snow Rake – this route travels around the Merino Glen and then continues onto the River Run and Loop trails.
- 7 km Straggle Muster – takes skiers around the Merino Glen and Highlander trails.
- Mini Muster (Short distance for under 10’s)
This year a team relay category has also been added as part of the 7km Straggle Muster event. Teams of 2 to 4 people must complete 4 laps of the 7km course. There is a special category for School Teams to get involved. Participation is the main focus for these events and everyone receives a medal or annual pin on completion. There is also a ski school which is the perfect place to start for those newbies that are considering their muster.
For registrations and more information see the Merino Muster homepage.