30 April 2020 | Written by Jaimee Beck

5 Unforgettable Christmas and New Year’s Destinations

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5 Unforgettable Christmas and New Year’s Destinations

Christmas in New Zealand means blue skies, hot sand and vibrant red pohutukawa – so it’s no wonder we have the best places under the sun to celebrate Christmas and welcome in the New Year. Make the most of the summer holiday season and head along to some of the awesome outdoor events, parties and pyrotechnics Aotearoa has on offer!

Read on to discover New Zealand’s top spots for an unforgettable Christmas and New Year…


1. Wanaka

Image Credit: Party goers at Rhythm & Alps by Elliot Steven

Wanaka has earned its place as one of New Zealand’s top spots to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Enjoy a relaxed family Christmas surrounded by incredible landscapes, perfect for hiking, rock climbing or exploring Lake Hawea. We’ve rounded up our 10 Wanaka must-do’s for you here.
On New Year’s Eve wander the Wanaka lakefront for live music, stalls and midnight fireworks or party hard at the iconic Rhythm & Alps festival.

There’s plenty to do in between the big events, so check out the Rhythm and Alps warmup party, outdoor activities in Wanaka township or the Wanaka Rodeo if you’re enjoying a longer visit.

Skip the muddy camping and Find the perfect holiday base in Wanaka.


2. Taupo

Image Credit: Arthur Poulin

With a laid back atmosphere and plenty of activities on and off the lake, Taupo is popular with families, couples and solo travelers alike. 

Spend Christmas by the lake, and If you’re after a family friendly New Year’s Eve, Taupo is perfect!
Everyone gathers on the lakefront to ring in the new year with outdoor movies, lollie scrambles, activities and live music. There’s usually a small fireworks display at 10.15 for the littlies, before the Big Bang fireworks display at midnight. 

Stick around for a few days to enjoy the Taupo Megafun Summer Carnival that runs for 5 days in early January.

Find the ideal Taupo holiday home for your family.


3. Gisborne

Image Credit: Anukrati Omar

Witness the first sunrise of the new year in Gisborne!

Apart from sunrise bragging rights, Gisborne offers a quintessentially Kiwi Christmas and New Year’s experience. Meet eagle rays and kingfish on a reef ecology tour, explore bushwalks and breweries, or just relax on the beach or among the vines.

From December 29-31 the epic Rhythm and Vines Festival moves in, bringing some of the worlds biggest touring acts to our slice of heaven.

Beat the crowd and book your Christmas and New Year accommodation now!


4. Rotorua

Image Credit: Rotorua Glo Festival

Rotorua knows how to do Christmas right! Not only are there tons of free things to do on Christmas day itself, but a lot of the attractions and eateries stay open as well, so you can enjoy an amazing meal without having to wash a single dish. Visit Rotorua NZ for a list of activities and where to find a high tea or 5 course feast on Christmas day. (Check out our top 8 things to do in Rotorua for more inspiration.)

On New Year’s Eve everyone flocks to the lakeside village green for Glo Festival. The annual festival is an absolute favourite, with fairground rides and games, an outdoor movie, two fireworks displays and live music to keep you dancing til midnight.

Book your Rotorua holiday home now!


5. Waiheke Island

Image Credit: Casita Miro

Picnic on the beach or take in vineyard views this Christmas with a Waiheke Island holiday. With sculpture walks, ziplines and gourmet food there’s always something to do, (or a beautiful spot to do nothing at all!)

Spend New Year’s Eve at the Cable Bay Vineyard where they have two areas – A dinner followed by a DJ on the verandah, or dinner accompanied by a jazz trio in the bistro – both followed by fireworks of course! Or welcome in the new year your way, in your own space, in a luxury holiday home or classic family bach.

Find your slice of Waiheke Island paradise here.


Where’s your go-to Christmas and New Year’s Eve destination? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!

Save yourself some stress – book your Christmas and New Year’s accommodation now.

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