Kiwi new-year traditions

Enjoying the new year in kilts – Invercargill, 1874

Enjoying the new year in kilts – Invercargill, 1874

Welcome to another new year!

New Zealanders typically take a little while to get into the swing of a new year – with the Christmas and new-year holidays coinciding with summer, it’s a good time to get away.

Summer is also an influence on our new-year traditions. Many Kiwis enjoy being outdoors on New Year’s Eve (weather permitting). As mentioned in our Beach culture entry, beaches are a traditional place for many of us to spend New Year’s Eve, especially in places like Mt Maunganui. There are a number of outdoor dance parties, such as The Gathering, near Tākaka. (To find out about other summer festivals and events, visit

On New Year’s Day we’re mostly not as adventurous as John Pascoe, who is shown in our European exploration entry at the summit of Mt Evans on New Year’s Day 1934. Some of us may still be recovering from the after-effects of the night before, so something more restful – such as parading around in kilts, as these chaps in Invercargill are doing, or feasting on food cooked in a hāngī (earth oven) – is more likely. Many people go for picnics on New Year’s Day and the New Year’s racing at the Tauherenīkau racecourse has a long tradition.

The above-mentioned kilts are quite appropriate, as the celebration of New Year’s Eve came here along with Scots immigrants, who celebrated Hogmanay back home. In Southland, with its high number of Scots people, the tradition of ‘first footing’, where the first person to cross a threshold of the house after midnight brings good luck, was continued. (The English were more into celebrating Christmas, but New Zealanders embraced both festive occasions, thus getting extra holidays.)

My own new-year’s traditions involve barbeques with friends and family, reflecting on the previous year, making plans for the coming year, and enjoying the summer weather.

What are your new-year traditions?

One comment added so far

  1. Comment made by Tiki || January 22nd, 2009

    Sorry, but those looking for the Gathering may be a tad (6 years) too late…RIP

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