As is the case in many other respects, New Zealand tends to be overshadowed by its big brother neighbor, Australia, when it comes to gay vacations. With Sydney’s world-renowned gay scene just over the border, why New Zealand?
The history of LGBT lifestyles perhaps precedes anything similar in Australia. The first allusions to same-sex relationships in New Zealand even precede European settlement; Maori folklore speaks of the relationship between Hinemoa and Tutanekai, one a lady of a noble family and the other a love-child of a commoner, but the latter the former’s ‘heart’s desire’.
Today, New Zealand laws give the LGBT community equal rights and protections. Openly gay members of Parliament have championed equal rights and continue to do so, and a landmark same-sex marriage bill was passed in 2013.
Auckland and Wellington are the two biggest cities with prominent gay communities. However, New Zealand has a significantly smaller gay scene compared to similar nations. This hasn’t stopped it from hosting its own Gay Pride Festival and a ‘Big Gay Out’ every February.
The lesbian community is especially active in organizing social gatherings. Auckland has a fortnightly lesbian event called ‘Flirt’, and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch regularly host big lesbian social get-togethers.
The same three cities used to host the Out Takes film festival which ceased in 2014. New Zealand seems to have a start-stop relationship with major LGBT events; the ‘Hero Parade’, timed to run as a lead-up to Sydney’s Mardi Gras, ran between 1992 and 2001, then once more in 2013. There are no concrete plans for a return as yet.
As a vacation destination in its own right, New Zealand is one of the world’s premier getaways. With its stunningly beautiful mountains and valleys, pristine rivers and placid lakes (which were showcased in the Lord of the Rings trilogy), the country is a visual delight.
The varying terrain creates ideal locations for a variety of adventure sports. Whether you are planning to skydive out of a plane, bungee jump off a bridge or fling yourself beneath the waves for a scuba adventure, there are few more picturesque places to indulge the adrenaline junkie in you than New Zealand.
If rest and relaxation is more your style, than cuddle up in mountain thermal springs where steam rises amidst snowy surrounds. For the cultural enthusiast couple, there is the rich history and heritage of both Western and Maori tradition to explore.
New Zealand, sitting in the far-flung corner of the world might not always make the headlines for LGBT issues, but the gay community’s heart beats strong and welcomes you to discover.