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Best Road Trip Destinations to Celebrate the Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is widely celebrated across New Zealand and its Chinese communities. Taking place between late January and mid-February—depending on the Chinese calendar—the Lunar Year, also referred to as Chinese Spring Festival, is a colourful occasion filled with family tradition, good food, and hope for good fortune.

Explore the Auckland Lantern Festival

festive Chinese red lantern decorations

For 30 years, the Chinese Community Centre in Auckland has held an annual Chinese New Year celebration. As a standout event in Auckland, it attracts more than 30,000 tourists each year, with many flocking to witness the mesmerising Auckland Lantern Festival.

Pick up a rental car at Auckland Airport and drive to the city from there. Head northwest on George Bolt Memorial Drive towards Manu Tapu Drive, then merge onto Highway 20 and take the exit to the city.


  • Street food stalls
  • Music and dance performances
  • Lantern-making demonstrations
  • Martial arts and cultural workshops

See the Dragon Parade From the Dunedin Octagon

Chinese New Year dragon festival

Enjoy the Chinese New Year in Dunedin from the well-loved Chinese Garden. The festivity features a dragon parade that runs from the city’s Octagon to the garden before ending with a breathtaking firework display.

Fly into Dunedin and pick up a rental car from the airport. From there, you’ll need to travel south for about four-and-a-half hours to reach Dunedin.


  • Dragon parade
  • Cultural performances
  • Food stalls
  • Fireworks

Check Out Wellington's Annual Celebrations

dancing dragon in Chinese New Year festival

Celebrate the Chinese New Year in style at the annual Chinese New Year Festival held in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington. Organised by the Asian Events Trust, the event has been going strong for over 12 years.

Easily navigate your way around Wellington from the comfort of a rental car. You can collect one from the airport or one of the downtown depots.

  • Festival Day
  • Football game
  • Fireworks
  • Street parade
  • Cultural entertainment

Get a Taste of Chinese Culture in Christchurch

Christchurch city during sunset

Tourists and locals flock to see pandas, dragons, lions, and several traditional Chinese dancers presented by amazing local performers.Thanks to the success of the Lantern Festival in Auckland, Christchurch also celebrates the Chinese New Year with a show of beautifully coloured lanterns, as well as some amazing stage performances.

Fly into Christchurch Airport and drive to the CBD from there. Continue from Memorial Avenue to Park Terrace and make your way to Hereford Street in the heart of Christchurch.


  • Traditional Chinese dancers
  • Lantern Festival
  • Street food and stalls
  • Music performances

Experience the Chinese New Year Under the Stars at Lake Tekapo

starry night sky at Lake Tekapo

Only a three-hours drive from Christchurch, experience Chinese New Year under the stars at Lake Tekapo on the South Island It’s a great place for stargazing, with the Geraldine Observatory accepting bookings for viewings, and it’s believed that Jupiter, a lucky planet to the Chinese, shines bright during the Chinese New Year.

Fly into Queenstown and drive north. Take Memorial Avenue to SH1 in Burnside and continue onto State Highway 79 in Rangitata, then State Highway 8 in Fairlie.


  • Celebrate under the stars
  • Check out Geraldine Observatory
  • Celebrate with family and friends by the lake
  • Relax and unwind

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