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Top New Year's Eve Destinations in New Zealand

New Year's Eve

New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and of course, there are plenty of fireworks, festivals, and events that take place all across the country.

Enjoy the Fireworks at the Bay of Islands

View of Bay Islands, North Island, NZ

Located in Northland, The Bay of Islands is an ideal spot for celebrating the New Year. There are many great resorts, holiday parks, and bars. Plus, the New Year's Eve Fireworks show is a must-see display of colourful pyrotechnics.

You can book a rental car in Kerikeri, which is only a 20-minute drive from Paihia, or if you're coming from Auckland, you can collect a rental car from the airport and head north on Highway 1.


  • New Year's Eve Fireworks in the Bay
  • The Paihia fireworks in can also be viewed from Opua, Russell, and Waitangi
  • Enjoy a great meal or a drink before the fireworks
  • New Year's Eve Pirate Party on Urupukapuka Island
Hire a car in Kerikeri

Attend the Caroline Bay Carnival in Timaru

Modern light house at Timaru

Timaru is another favourite New Year's destination. Attend the 13-day Caroline Bay Carnival for a full lineup of great activities and family entertainment. The amazing New Year's Eve fireworks display is not to be missed.

From the South Island, head northeast on Armour Road toward Puketoi-Highfield Road and continue onto State Highway 85. Turn left onto State Highway 1 and follow the signs to Timaru.


  • Caroline Bay Carnival
  • Breathtaking midnight NYE fireworks display
  • Take in the beautiful view of Caroline Bay Beach
  • Fairground-style rides

Catch the Rhythm and Alps NYE Festival in Queenstown

Skyline gondola in Queenstown

Bring in the New Year at the South Island's largest music festival. Not far from Queenstown, the annual Rhythm and Alps takes place at the scenic Cardrona Valley. The city also hosts some exciting New Year's Eve celebrations of its own with vintage steamboat cruises around Lake Wakatipu.

You can rent a car directly from Queenstown Airport or one of the downtown depots. From the city, it’s only a 40-minute drive to Cardrona Valley where the festival is held.


  • Witness a stunning fireworks display
  • Enjoy live music and entertainment
  • Take a scenic cruise on Lake Wakatipu
  • Enjoy the beautiful scenery in and around Cardrona Valley

Watch the New Year Sunrise in Gisborne

Beach at Poverty Bay, Gisborne, North Island

Due to its far-east location on New Zealand’s North Island, Gisborne is one of the very first locales in the country—and the world—to witness the first sunrise of the New Year. It’s also home to the award-winning Rhythm and Vines festival, where you’ll be able to celebrate the New Year with your friends and family.

If you want to make getting around Gisborne easy, we suggest renting a car from either the airport or in town. This way, you’ll get the most out of what Gisborne has to offer.


  • Attend the Rhythm and Vines
  • Welcome in the first sunrise of the new year
  • Live music and entertainment

Experience the Rotorua GLO Festival

Modern light house at Timaru

Relax and be entertained with friends and family at the Rotorua GLO Festival. Enjoy great music and awesome food, with a spectacular fireworks display at midnight over the Lakefront and Rotorua Village Green.

Renting a car will make getting around Rotorua a lot easier over New Year’s. You’ll also be able to explore the surrounding region and make your way to the GLO festival when you’re ready.


  • Family movie
  • Fireworks extravaganza
  • Great food
  • Markets and Fair events

Enjoy a Night of Live Music in Wanaka

Wanaka Town in South Island

Wanaka's main street transforms on New Year’s Eve, becoming a strip of stalls and dancing before the fireworks display at midnight. Popular Wanaka New Year's celebrations include the annual Rhythm and Alps Festival, and the iHeart Radio Top Paddock Festival.

Renting a car from Queenstown Airport is your best bet, then you can make your way to Wanaka, which will only take you about an hour in the car; the fastest route is via Crown Range Road and Cardrona Valley Road.


  • Partying at Rhythm & Alps Festival
  • Explore the beautiful Lake Hawea
  • iHeart Radio Top Paddock Festival

Other Popular Celebrations