New Zealand is full of amazing natural beauty and known for its unique and compelling traditions. A culmination of European-based quirks and Maori customs have enabled New Zealand to craft its customs and traditions.
Here I have rounded up six traditions that you can find only in New Zealands and the inhabitants can understand and relate to.
1. A chocolate carnival on the steepest street of World
Baldwin Street of Dunedin is known for its steepest street in the world. But do you know this place is also hosts the city’s annual Cadbury Chocolate Carnival? To start the sweet festivities, giant Jaffa balls, which are orange chocolates that’s unique to New Zealand, rolls down this steep stretch of road. Here there are many other competitions, choc-filled activities, and an iconic Crunchie Train to enjoy the festival.
2. Gumboot Day
Taihape is a small town in the center of the North Island that prides itself on being ‘the gumboot capital of the world‘. Every year since 1985, the community celebrates Gumboot Day — a fun-filled family event that includes the town’s famed gumboot throwing contest. The iconic festival is held on the Tuesday after Easter, and its biggest ambition every year is to break the world record for the longest gumboot throw.
3. The Haka
If you are aware of rugby, you’d know this one quite well. The haka is a traditional Maori war dance which is performed by New Zealand’s All Blacks team, although its immortality is celebrated in other local customs as well. Earlier, the pre-battle war cries and dances were performed to provoke fear, and proclaim the strength of Maori warriors. This is when they usually perform a haka dance. Now it has become a tradition and you can see the performance if you visit a marae, or if you participate in any special Maori celebrations and rituals.
This is a traditional welcoming ceremony if you are going to visit a Maori house (whare), meeting place (marae) or tribe (iwi). This is how they welcome their guests. A powhiri usually begins with three warriors challenging the guests to evaluate if they are entering their territory in peace, while a kaikaranga (female caller) leads the visitors towards them. It is followed by presentations, waiata (traditional songs) and speeches and then the powhiri end with the hongi – a traditional meal.
5. A Hangi
It is different from hongi. It is a customary Maori cooking method. It is prepared underground, using heated rocks that are buried in a pit oven. Food is kept on top of the stones, meat is cooked first, and other items are covered with flax mats or hessian bags for over three hours during the cooking process. This food is saved for special occasions, though you can have these meals when you take part in various Maori encounters across the country.
6. All things Kiwiana
While it is not a tradition that has to be followed, this is something that residents usually cherish and follow. Kiwiana are cultural relics that helped define Kiwi identity and the local way of life. In this tradition, you will find the Edmonds Cookbook, which has been teaching New Zealanders to make their favorite meals for many generations, as well as the classic Buzzy Bee toy, Maori cravings, paua shells, and the pavlova.
These are some of the traditions you will get to see if you happen to visit New Zealand and only the locals know it well.