Here are five places to check out New Zealand’s weird, whimsical, completely offbeat sense of humour.
Taihape: The gumboot-throwing capital of the world
Taihape, a town that few people outside of New Zealand have heard of, claims to hold the title of the gumboot throwing capital of the world — a sport even fewer people have heard of. But somehow, with healthy servings of small-town quirk and character, the annual Taihape Gumboot Festival really works.
Gumboots (also known as Wellingtons, rain boots, or galoshes, depending on what part of the world you’re in) take centre stage in Taihape every year as people gather to see who can throw the famed farmers’ footwear the furthest. Tourists are invited to participate in the event, and are offered boots to toss if they didn’t bring their own. For those interested in getting a little pre-event practice, a gumboot-throwing lane has even been developed behind the town’s main shopping centre.
The world’s best buskers gather in Christchurch
Busking, when done right, sees performers entertain crowds for hours with their talent and showmanship. The city of Christchurch’s love of quality street performing led to the inception of the World Busker Festival nearly 25 years ago; today, the event draws dozens of artists from around the world. Performers from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, and, of course, New Zealand take to the streets from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily during the festival. The best part: most of the acts are free. All you need to do is hit the streets with an open mind, some loose change, and sense of humour.
Rolling down the steepest street in the world
What do you do when your town has the steepest street in the world? If you’re the town of Dunedin, you create an annual event that sees more than 75,000 candy covered chocolates rolled down the hill in support of charity.
The annual “Jaffa Roll” on Baldwin St. in Dunedin’s North East Valley makes full use of the road’s steep gradient to propel the iconic New Zealand Jaffa sweet — an orange-coated chocolate candy ball — downhill. The race has been held since 2001 and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities. Jaffas are numbered, so it’s easy — or easy-ish — to tell which ball crossed the finish line first. The event is part of the annual Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Festival, which is a do-not-miss calendar item for sweet-toothed travellers.
Something to bark about in Queenstown
Queenstown has the kind of attitude that asks: why land a plane when you can jump out of it?
As you would expect from a town that prides itself on testing the limits of visitors’ travel insurance policies, Queenstown also pushes the boundaries for what could be considered a town festival. The annual Monteith’s Dog Barking Festival brings together man and his best friend on an annual basis to determine who is the loudest barker of them all. From hard-working cattle dogs to small house-kept bundles of fur, dogs of all breeds and personalities gather to see whose bark is the most ear-splitting. The best part? If a dog doesn’t bark on command, its owner must get down on all fours and bark on his or her dog’s behalf!
The non-festival music festival
For those music lovers that want something more from their festival experience than having to line up for beer, Wellington’s non-festival music festival, A Low Hum, should not be overlooked.
While technically it’s a festival — it features a number of bands performing at venues around Wellington — A Low Hum goes against all of the musical festival norms. There are no queues, no VIP areas, no security, and none of the local or international music acts are actually announced until you arrive. Better still, you can bring your own alcohol into the events. A Low Hum is an ongoing project founded by local Wellington photographer and music impresario Blink, and has been around since 2006. Tickets always sell fast.
Encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities that cater for different tastes, G Adventures has a number of unforgettable tours that take in the best of New Zealand. We can’t wait to show you the wonders of Oceania’s most exciting travel destination — check out our small group tours of New Zealand here.