Top tickets for an Easter road-trip in New Zealand
There's heaps to do around the country over the long weekend
Aside from Christmas, Easter is the next biggest holiday on the New Zealand calendar. There are quite strict trading hour restrictions during the Easter Holidays. Expect all main shopping centres to be closed on Good Friday. Changes to the laws this year have put opening hours' decisions for Easter Sunday in the hands of local councils, so there may be more places open in tourist towns such as Queenstown and Rotorua. It would be best to assume shops won't be open, and stock up accordingly. Restaurants are more likely to be open, but many will have a surcharge on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The good news is, there are many fantastic events held throughout the country, so you won't be stuck for things to do. Here's a round-up of the best:
Showtime in Auckland
Auckland Royal Easter Show: A long-time favourite for visitors and locals in Auckland alike. The show runs from Thursday the 24th to Monday 28th of March. The show includes all the amusement rides you would expect, but also incorporates an A&P (agricultural and pastoral) show, that has been part of the event for over 160 years. See the best of cattle, sheep, alpacas and equestrian events as part of the show. There's also a circus, an entertainment stage with live music, and a fireworks display each night at 9.30 pm.
If music's more your groove, hop on a ferry to Waiheke Island. Waiheke is a top spot to visit at anytime. It has recently been voted the Number 5 Global Destination to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet, and the Number 4 best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveller. Over Easter, it is home to a jazz festival, with artists from around New Zealand, and some from overseas. You can buy a 'Jazzabout' pass, which will let you see six acts per day, at a choice of two venues just 200 metres apart in the village of Oneroa, right by the ferry terminal. There are evening concerts to take in as well.
Warbirds over Wanaka
Down south, a major event is Warbird's Over Wanaka. This magnificent display of historic aircraft, and modern fighter jets takes place over 4 days from the 25th to the 28th of March in the scenic spot of Wanaka. There's classic aircraft flying in formation, a display of amphibious aircraft right on Lake Wanaka, and plenty of wonderful Central Otago wine and food to accompany the festivities. Autumn is one of the best times of the year to be in the region, the colours are stunning.
More music on the Kapiti Coast
If you are near Wellington, or the Kapiti Coast, spend Saturday 26th of March at Coastella, a music festival in its first year. It's being held at the Southwards Car Museum grounds in Paraparaumu, one hour from Wellington. There's a great line-up including New Zealand music royalty, Don McGlashan.
Hunt for Easter Eggs
It's not Easter without an Easter egg hunt, and there are plenty of organised events throughout the country. The most adventurous involves a ferry ride from Lyttleton (the port of Christchurch) to the recreational reserve of Quail Island. As well as finding eggs, visitors are also likely to see shipwrecks, native birds, volcanic cliffs and caves.
Share life on the road with the gypsies
If you are dreaming of travelling the road not just for a holiday, but full time, you can take inspiration from the Gypsy Extravaganza. This band of sustainable-living traders and craftspeople will be set up with live entertainment, and unique stalls at Napier's Anderson Park in Kennedy Road, Napier from the 25th to 28th of March.