Every New Year’s Eve, Earnslaw Park goes into full party mode. Celebrations are positioned right by the lakefront, meaning there are plenty of picturesque surroundings to marvel at as the fireworks light up the midnight skies. Before the clock strikes twelve, though, there will be an incredible lineup of live music and entertainment to get the crowds pumping. Entry is free – the only thing to keep in mind that no alcohol will be allowed on the premises.
While the Gisborne might be famous for its end-of-year Rhythm and Vines festival, the South Island welcomes the New Year with its own Rhythm and Alps. This one is actually in Cardrona Valley, just 15 minutes south of Wanaka, but there will be buses regularly picking up and dropping off concertgoers based in Queenstown. The popular event is renowned for bringing a buzzing lineup of DJs and musicians from New Zealand and abroad. It runs for four days, with on-site camping options available at the festival.
Another New Year’s Eve event within close range of Wanaka. The Top Paddock Music Festival will have 10 different musical acts performing on Dec 31 – with 8.5 hours of tunes lined up to welcome the upcoming year on a very high note. The open-air extravaganza will be held in the scenic Lake Hawea, right in the midst of the Southern Alps. Concertgoers can book themselves onto one of the buses taking people to and from Wanaka – or they can claim a helicopter for themselves if they want a full VIP experience. Accommodation packages are included in all ticket prices.
So you want to stay in Queenstown, but aren’t up for braving the lakefront crowds. Why not make this New Year’s Eve an indulgent dining occasion? The town has quite a few restaurants to choose from, but for the best waterfront vistas Prime is the place to visit. The Skyline Gondola’s Stratosfare Restaurant is another venue renowned for its stunning panoramas, and it’s hosting a special celebratory dinner on NYE too (reservations for this one are essential).
With so many things happening around town, finding a cool bar or pub to settle down will be a breeze. If you’re travelling with a group, go out and explore some of the nightlife around you. Those travelling solo could also hit up one of the pre-organized parties like the Big Night Out New Year’s Eve Pub Crawl or one of the Kiwi Crawl events.
Whether you’ve got an affinity for blaring techno sounds, some jumping hip hop beats or something rocking up the alternative spectrum, Queenstown’s live music venues will bring you plenty of opportunities to hit the dance floor. Places to head along to include Vinyl Undergound, Rhino’s Ski Shack and Loco Cantina.