Halloween is widely celebrated everywhere in the world, especially in the US. However, your typical Halloween is an autumn holiday full of orange colors and pumpkins. In New Zealand, the Halloween season means springtime, making the celebration and vibe somewhat different.
In New Zealand, Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October each year, just like in many other parts of the world, but it’s springtime in the southern hemisphere. Halloween festivities in New Zealand have their own unique twist that usually includes spooky games, haunted décor, costume parties, trick-or-treating, and pumpkin carving.
In recent years, it has gained popularity in New Zealand, and people have now started to dress up and party in full swing. That said, New Zealanders have their own way of embracing this spooky holiday. Cultural influences that have shaped Halloween celebrations in the country make it a fascinating blend of traditional and modern elements.
But, to be honest, Halloween is still up and coming event in New Zealand and Australia, and it’s not even close to the US.
All you need to know about Halloween in New Zealand
Halloween is a fairly new celebration in New Zealand. It’s also not a public holiday. Until recently, it wasn’t celebrated by locals, but with the increased influence of the US plus American citizens moving to NZ, Halloween is now growing in popularity. Large retailers like Warehouse and Kmart also have contributed by promoting the event and related to Halloween products.
That said, Halloween traditions have taken root with a Kiwi twist. Costumes play a central role, as children and adults alike dress up as ghosts, witches, monsters, and other spooky characters.
Halloween is a fun event for children as they get a chance to dress up and eat an unlimited amount of candies (called lollies here).
Trick-or-treating has also become a beloved activity, with children eagerly going door-to-door in their costumes, collecting candies from neighbours. But Kiwi parents still try to discourage this behaviour, in the end, it’s not the US.
Another Halloween staple is pumpkin carving, where Kiwis apply their creativity (Kiwi ingenuity) by transforming pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns adorned with scary faces or unique designs. Furthermore, Halloween parties abound throughout the country, catering to both children and adults, providing a spirited atmosphere for all.
New Zealand is all about the community and coming together, Halloween time is exactly for it. When spending Halloween in New Zealand, you will definitely feel the local vibe with neighbours and local communities celebrating as one big family.
Even some small businesses change their ambience during Halloween, so you might be served by a waitress with a horrible look. Check out Crepe and Show, for example, they serve amazing authentic French crepes with full-on Halloween make-up. They are located on Marks Road near Haast.
The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on October 31st. This festival marked the end of the harvest season and served as a time to honor the dead.
When British settlers arrived in New Zealand in the 1800s, they brought their own Halloween traditions with them. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Halloween gained significant traction and began to be widely celebrated by Kiwis.
Halloween in New Zealand is a vibrant affair with different ways of celebration. Some choose to embrace the traditional customs, dressing up in costumes and going trick-or-treating. Others go to Halloween parties, where music, games, and themed decorations create an electrifying atmosphere.
Halloween parties are mostly popular in main cities like Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.
Pumpkins also take center stage as Kiwis channel their artistic abilities to carve intricate designs. Some traditional Halloween activities like bonfires and apple bobbing show the spirit of Halloween alive and thriving in the community. People here also love to fry up some marshmallows on the fire.
While Halloween shares commonalities worldwide, there are a few notable differences in how it is celebrated in New Zealand. Trick-or-treating is not as prevalent compared to some other countries, and Halloween parties tend to be more laid-back and casual in nature.
These distinctions, however, only enhance the unique character of Halloween celebrations in New Zealand. They bring a national characteristic to the occasion, which is a sight worth seeing, for sure.
Also read: Christmas time in New Zealand: What to expect?
Halloween costumes in New Zealand and where to buy them
Halloween is an exciting time in New Zealand when people of all ages get to unleash their creativity and transform into their favorite characters.
From classic choices like ghosts, witches, and monsters to popular superheroes and beloved Disney characters, the options for Halloween costumes in New Zealand are diverse and captivating. Whether you prefer a simple and budget-friendly ghost costume or an intricately designed ensemble, there’s something for everyone.
To find the perfect Halloween costume, there are several places in New Zealand where you can shop. Most mega stores like Kmart and Warehouse are a great starting point, offering various costumes to suit different tastes and budgets. These stores are the cheapest, and often stock a variety of styles and sizes, catering to both children and adults.
To find a decent Halloween costume at a fair price, check out these websites in particular:
Costume shops, on the other hand, specialize in Halloween costumes and typically offer a more extensive selection, yet they are also more expensive. Here, you can find unique and high-quality costumes that may not be available in regular stores.
For those who prefer the convenience of online shopping, numerous online retailers offer a vast array of Halloween costumes. Online platforms like TradeMe provide the advantage of a wider selection, allowing you to explore various themes and characters from the comfort of your own home.
However, remember to order a few weeks in advance because there are usually delays during these peak seasons. If you place your order very close to Halloween, your order probably won’t be delivered in time for the celebration.
Best Halloween parties in New Zealand in 2023
Here are some of the best Halloween parties to enjoy to the full:
- Spookers Scream Nights: Held at the eerie former Kingseat Hospital in Karaka, this popular event offers a haunted house, a spine-chilling fog maze, and other hair-raising attractions.
- FRISKY Fright Night: Head to the vibrant FRISKY nightclub in Auckland CBD for a Halloween party that’s filled with live music, top-notch DJs, and an exciting costume contest.
- The Wedding: Experience a thrilling Halloween masquerade ball at the iconic Auckland Town Hall, complete with a costume contest and captivating live music.
- Halloween Special at Love Not Lost: Get ready for a night of excitement at the Love Not Lost nightclub in Wellington, where you’ll enjoy live music, energetic DJs, and a chance to win the costume contest.
- Fear Factory: Haunted house and haunted ship – a fun activity to attend any time of the year! They also have a location in Queenstown.
- Shrek Rave Wellington: Party it up Shrek-style at the San Francisco Bathhouse in Wellington, featuring an epic costume contest, a silent disco, and a live performance by the incredible Shrek Rave DJs.
- Masquerade, The Winter Social by Bombay Talkies: Step into a magical world at the Bombay Talkies restaurant in Wellington for a captivating masquerade ball. Enjoy the enchanting atmosphere, participate in the costume contest, and groove to live music.
- Shrek Rave Christchurch: Join the Shrek Rave madness at the Woolston Mill in Christchurch, where you can showcase your costume in the contest, dance the night away at the silent disco, and enjoy an unforgettable performance by the talented Shrek Rave DJs.
- Halloween at The Engine Room: The Engine Room nightclub in Christchurch sets the stage for a fantastic Halloween celebration, featuring electrifying live music, renowned DJs, and a thrilling costume contest.
- The Odd Ball, The Gala of Miscreants: Immerse yourself in the mysterious atmosphere of The Bluestone Room in Christchurch, where you can unleash your creativity in the costume contest, groove to live music and experience the unique silent disco.
These Halloween parties promise an incredible night of fun, music, and the chance to show off your amazing costumes. Don’t miss out on these memorable events happening across New Zealand. Get ready for a spooktacular time!