New Zealand Official Public Holidays (2018)
New Year’s Day, Monday 1 January 2018- Day after New Year’s Day, Tuesday 2 January:
A novelty for Northern Hemisphere visitors, New Year’s Day falls in the height of the dazzling New Zealand summer. The languid sun-drenched stretch between Christmas Day- 3rd January is when many Kiwis take their summer holidays to relax with family. Most Kiwis leave the big cities and head to beachside towns. Locations such as Mt Manganui, The Coromandel Peninsula, The Bay of Islands, Golden Bay and Wanaka surge in population during this time. Bach barbeques, beach volleyball, forest picnics and seaside strolls are luxurious traditions for many families making the most of the vacation and is certainly an advantage if your New Year’s resolution tends to include cultivating a healthier lifestyle!
Waitangi Day, Tuesday 6 February 2018:
As well as Israel and Great Britain, New Zealand is one of few countries not to have a founding constitution. This day honours its founding document. On February 6 1840, Te Tiriti O Waitangi, The Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori and The Crown. This gave The Crown sovereignty and afforded British subjects and Maori the protection of the Queen. However, an ambiguous translation of the treaty from English to Te Reo resulted in unfair land loss for many indigenous tribes and historical grievances persist due to the Maori concept of tangatawhenua that ‘the people belong to the land’ as opposed to the capitalist perspective that land can be purchased and sold by people. This day is a passionate celebration for all New Zealanders to celebrate their love for their country and for many it is also an opportunity to reflect on the progress of harmonious race relations, not only between Maori and The Crown, but in contemporary New Zealand’s multi-cultural, cosmopolitan society. A traditional powhiri and service takes place every year at Waitangi, Paihia on the site the Treaty was signed.
Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Friday 30 March- Monday 2 April 2018:
New Zealand is a secular country with a Christian heritage. Good Friday commemorates the day Jesus died. Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven. Shops and businesses close on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to observe this period in the Holy Roman Calendar. Easter Monday is always a public holiday and this gives Kiwis a four day weekend to savour. Easter is determined by the lunar calendar and therefore falls on different dates each year. It is always in the New Zealand autumn, which is pleasant and mild. Hiking can be a good way to take in the resplendent shades of orange, gold and amber as the weather turns. The Routeburn track in the South Island is a dramatic example of this but needs to be booked far in advance. A wine trail in Arrowtown, Wanaka and Queenstown is also a sumptuous extravaganza at this time of year.
ANZAC Day, Wednesday 25th April 2018:
This day falls on April 25th each year. It has been ‘Monday-ised’ which means it is always a public holiday even if it falls on the weekend. ANZAC is an acronym for Australian New Zealand Army Corps and is a remembrance day to pay respects to soldiers who have served New Zealand in the armed forces. The day recognises the devastating sacrifice made by allied troops in the battle of Gallipoli, 1914. New Zealanders commemorate the day by attending poignant dawn services around the country, with the largest held at Auckland’s domain outside The War Memorial Museum. It is customary to donate a gold coin for a red poppy to wear as an emblem. These donations go towards caring for returned veterans.
Queen’s Birthday, Monday 4th June 2018:
Although New Zealand is a sovereign state, The Queen is still the official Head of State and New Zealand a member of the Commonwealth. The Queen’s actual birthday is April 21st, but the holiday is delayed to make the most of the Northern Hemisphere summer. As such, this day falls on the first Monday in June. It is a legacy from Britain where the monarch awards her subjects a day off to celebrate summer festivities. The Prime Minister compiles a list of birthday honours and the Queen formally extends them on this day to recognise New Zealanders who have made an extraordinary contribution to society. People enjoy this day by getting away for a long weekend, heading to the pub to watch the rugby, or getting together with family to serve a roast lamb on a chilly winter’s evening.
Labour Day, Monday 22 October 2018:
Labour Day falls on the third Monday in October. Labour Day acknowledges the work of labour unions’ to secure fair rights for workers and is synonymous with the eight hours movement, which argued for eight hours work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest. Appropriately, Labour Day is a day without labour and New Zealanders enjoy a three day weekend. This is a beautiful time in the New Zealand spring. Daylight saving has begun and long days sprawl into balmy evenings, making it a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends for a glass of chilled Martinborough Pinot Gris, or Hawkes Bay Riesling. Sea temperatures are still cool but a trip to the beach is a possibility. Horse riding and coastal walks are another way to advantage of this little holiday offering the first hint of the much anticipated Kiwi summer.
Christmas Day, Boxing Day Tuesday 25th- Wednesday 26th December 2018:
Christmas Day on the 25th December signals the end of the working year. Kiwis breathe a sigh of relief as they leave the office and head to summer baches for the stretch between Christmas and New Year. As with many nations, Christmas has been heavily commercialised, and Christmas Eve and Boxing Day advertise big sales. However, Christmas Day itself offers a precious opportunity to relax with family by the beach. In typical Antipodean style, Kiwis have made this wintry Northern Hemisphere tradition their own, Fishing, cricket, poolside parties and barbeques commemorate this festive and sunny holiday. Most New Zealanders take their annual leave between Christmas and New Year and town centres become quiet during this time.