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Kick off winter the right way at this epic music festival in New Zealand

A group of people toasting at a table with plates of food during Mardi Gras.

If you’re a passionate snowboarder or skier, you’ll know how exciting it is when you check your weather app and see the first dumping of powder marking the beginning of a new snow season. New Zealand, who is famous for their snow fields in Queenstown and Mount Ruapehu, has the most epic way of launching the start of winter: with a music festival touring two cities and both of the country’s islands.

The massive gig named Mardi Gras is back for an even bigger and better year in Okahune, a town on the southwestern slopes of the active volcano Mount Ruapehu. The Okahune festival is held on June 22 and the theme is Carnivale and winter celebration. The line-up includes acts like Chase and Status DJing with MC Rage; drum ‘n bass legends Matrix & Futurebound and Kiwi whizzkid It’s one helluva line-up that will get every single person dancing.

It also just so happens too that Contiki’s accommodation in Mt Ruapehu literally overlooks the festival and is a two-minute walk to the entry point. Coincidence? Absolutely not. If you’re travelling on The Big Tiki, Northern Choice (start Auckland) or Kiwiana Panorama (start Auckland) trips during June it’s probably worth snapping up some tickets to the festival ASAP.

The Queenstown leg of the festival tour is held the following day on June 23 up on nearby Coronet Peak. Yes, this party is served over ice. The line-ups differ slightly depending on which city you choose to join the fun in, but both are fantastic and done responsibly. What do we mean by that? Well, no one wants to ruin the pristine beauty of New Zealand and its gorgeous slopes, so the team behind the festival have pledged to make sure the area is left exactly how they found it by hiring a huge clean-up crew and extra staff. Audiology’s Mitch Lowe tells UNO magazine: “We want to deliver it in a way where the town loves it again and wants to have us back.”

Besides ensuring the event spaces are looked after, this NZ music festival is part-owned by the Ohakune Events Charitable Trust and all profits go straight back to the locals: “The trust puts half of the profits back into the community. It has a nice ‘giving back’ vibe to it,” says Mitch.

Want tickets? The Okahune Mardi Gras tickets are already sold out BUT Contiki has been given a bunch of special tickets which you can buy on select trips that are there during the festival. Queenstown Mardi Gras still has tickets available here.

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