In New Zealand where myth constantly collides with reality, Auckland is the cauldron where bold traditions are stirred to create a steaming brew that would rock you to the core. The rich and dynamic sights, sounds and flavours you encounter while on a hired motorhome cling to the heart and turn it into a hearth of fantastic memories comparable to a summer night’s dream.

Apart from being the first European settlement in New Zealand, Auckland is also a legendary settlement of the Māori tribes who believed that the land proudly standing in between two great bodies of water was carved to its current curvature by warring ancient tribes who were fighting in the name of love. Truly, one may declare that an ancient Shakespearean tragedy transformed the land into such a rare beauty – a beauty that makes for a wonderful journey.

"Lake Pupuke” by russellstreet available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/russellstreet/4628080389/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

"Lake Pupuke” by russellstreet available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/russellstreet/4628080389/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ BY russellstreet

But before you cast all else aside for that 

journey of a lifetime, let us take you by the hand and present to you a quick guide to the most iconic festivals in New Zealand’s biggest city! Let us lay down our top picks for a motorhome rental holiday in Auckland.

 

Auckland Anniversary

As summer folds and the autumn chills start to nip at the leaves of the great foliage covering the dark green forests, Auckland celebrates its founding anniversary. However, Auckland was already an ethnic settlement before Europeans came to New Zealand. The land was actually sold to the Europeans by ethnic tribes who first lived off the land.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the place was known as Tāmaki Makaurau, which is roughly translated to “isthmus of one thousand lovers.” Legend has it that the ancient lands were the location of a legendary battle between two Māori tribes. Their struggles and victories helped sculpt out the scenic topography of the land, especially the vast port area that lets in a  large number of boats all year round.

In fact, the huge number of boats that dock at the port city gave it the name, “City of Sails.” The canoes of the past and the yachts of the present paint an elaborate picture of how Auckland has been fashioned as one of the most vital nautical highways in Oceania. Because it is one of the oldest settlements in the country, the city eventually grew to become the biggest metropolitan area in New Zealand.

Although the government already divided the northern peninsula into different urban communities, the Auckland Anniversary is still celebrated by the North Island’s northern towns. The holiday commemorates the arrival of William Hobson to the settlement. At that time, Auckland became the country’s first capital. Meanwhile, Hobson served as the first governor of New Zealand.

"Evans Bay, Wellington, New Zealand, 6 July 2005” by Phillip Capper available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/flissphil/24003331/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"Evans Bay, Wellington, New Zealand, 6 July 2005” by Phillip Capper available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/flissphil/24003331/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Phillip Capper

Currently, Wellington serves as the country’s capital. However, the mythical spirit of Auckland lives on with the magnificent structures that were built, surrounded by rolling hills of the city.

 

Gravity Festival

“The Lord of the Rings” fans may not know it, but Mt. Ruapehu’s surroundings is the setting of many remarkable sites in the movie like The Shire, for instance. Indeed, the volcano is full of mystique that there are so many outdoor activities you can do around the are.

In fact, one festival is just all about that. Join the heart-thumping action during the annual Ruapehu Gravity festival. In the past years, the festival was set on the majestic slopes of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park, specifically Bruce Road.

"Mount Ruapehu” by Ignas Kukenys available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ignas_kukenys/4879027162/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"Mount Ruapehu” by Ignas Kukenys available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ignas_kukenys/4879027162/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Ignas Kukenys

There were two sports events in the previous celebrations – Longboarding and Drift Trikes. During the duration of this extreme sports festival, the Bruce Road was closed to traffic which guarantees the safety of the competitors engaging in the risky and high-intensity events. As a safety precaution, all drift trikes went through a 15 point safety inspection. The festival was recently held last February 16.

On the other hand, there are also other extreme sports that you can engage in skiing on the snowcapped mountains or chase roaring rapids. You can also enjoy the natural beauty of the national park with a simple leisurely walk at the park. The snowcapped mountain and the lush green surroundings are instant cures to weary souls that are constantly in and out of the rat race.

 

Auckland Arts Festival

For the art connoisseurs, head back to Auckland’s central business district and be part of the annual Auckland Arts Festival. The festival has been celebrated in the city since 1948 with the distinction of being the first art festival in the Asia Pacific featuring an enormous collection of ethnic, modern, and even avant-garde art pieces.

"Auckland Harbour View 05” by Ronnie Macdonald available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronmacphotos/5642836258/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"Auckland Harbour View 05” by Ronnie Macdonald available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ronmacphotos/5642836258/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Ronnie Macdonald

There were also unconventional artistic concepts 

presented in different forms other than the traditional oil and pastel. There were musical artists as well as other performance artists that create installation art pieces for the festival.

The festival was recently held last March highlighted by concerts, stage plays, and dance performances.

 

Auckland Lantern Festival

Auckland is also one of the major cities in New Zealand that celebrate the annual Chinese New Year Celebration. The Chinese New Year in Auckland is renowned for their wonderful lanterns that adorn the streets and parks.

This year the festival was celebrated from the 18th to the 21st February, following the traditional Lunar New Year of the Chinese community. The festival featured over 800 handcrafted lanterns in different shapes and sizes. Anyone who came to the 3-day event would have surely been drawn back to their childhood as they marvelled at the magnificent paper light material glowing radiantly thanks to intricately assembled light fixtures inside the lanterns.

"Lantern Festival Entrance” by Robert Engberg available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rengber/3257462589/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"Lantern Festival Entrance” by Robert Engberg available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rengber/3257462589/ under a Creative Commons Attribution. Full license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ BY Robert Engberg

Of course, the festival would not be complete without food! The lantern festival is just one of the many events when the Chinese community prepares stalls filled with authentic Chinese dishes for everyone to enjoy.

Martial arts expositions, traditional dances, and on-stage performance would complete the night that celebrates the rebirth of the moon. Truly, this is one festival that offers both a dinner and a show!

Now that we’ve covered some of the major iconic events in Auckland, it’s up to you which of these festivals you’d like to visit on your next holiday. Although most of these events happen during summer, there’s no stopping you from hiring a motorhome to visit some of the best places in New Zealand’s North Island.

Have you already decided what festival in Auckland you’d be joining in next time? We’d love to hear from you. Connect with us and other motorhome enthusiasts on Facebook and Twitter and share with us your best campervan moments!