What to do in Auckland for Chinese New Year 2018

by Vomle Springford / 16 February, 2018
Lantern Festival, Auckland

The Lantern Festival in the Auckland Domain. It marks the end of the Chinese New Year 15-day celebration. Photo: Todd Eyre/ATEED.

What's happening for Chinese New Year 2018 in Auckland

Chinese New Year, the most important holiday in Chinese culture - the equivalent to Christmas in western culture - is being celebrated right now in Auckland. 

Friday, February 16 marks the turn of the Chinese lunar calendar and start of the Year of the Dog. Many other Asian countries are also celebrating the Lunar New Year.

How it's celebrated

Festivities run for 15 days, with many visitors from China flying into Auckland to visit family, and there are lots of events being held across the city.

Xiao Liu, who moved to Auckland six years ago from Liaoning, in the northeast of China, says most people spend time with their family, starting on New Year’s Eve.

Like most celebrations, food is centrepiece to Chinese New Year. Liu says her family stays up late the night before, making dumplings around 11pm and eating them from midnight. People from northern China tend to eat dumplings while southern Chinese will eat a sweet dish, often made from rice flour. “We also eat braised fish with sugar and soy sauce and in the south, they eat steamed fish with ginger, scallions and vinegar.”

Making way for the new is a key part of the festivities. Liu says two weeks before the New Year, they clean the house. “We clean because we are trying to clean out the bad things, make it fresh for good fortune.”

Her family also puts up ‘fu’ signs, written in Chinese calligraphy on rice paper, that are put on the windows and front door praying for good fortune. Children also receive ‘hongbao’, red envelopes with new banknotes inside, from their elders.

What to eat

Chef Levi Sun of Tianze Dumpling House with xiao long bao

Chef Levi Sun of Tianze Dumpling House with xiao long bao. Photos: William Chen.

If you’re not an accomplished dumpling maker, many of the Metro Top 50 Cheap Eats serve dumplings in various regional styles and flavours. For the revered xiao long bao, check out these 11 eateries that serve perfectly pleated dumplings. 

Noodles, a lucky food to eat in the Chinese New Year that symbolise longevity, can be found at these Auckland faves. For a more upmarket affair, chef Nic Watt at Huami is offering a special set menu for groups for the new year period. 

What to do

  • Head to a temple. Some Chinese people will visit a temple, like the Fo Guang Shan Temple in Manukau, to pray for good fortune.
  • The Botany Downs Chinese New Year festival is coming up soon on Feb 17 and the Whau festival in New Lynn is on Feb 25. If you’re in the central city, SkyCity is celebrating with night markets, entertainment and a special garden to stroll in.
  • The 2018 Chinese New Year Concert is also on at the Aotea Centre on Feb 22. The performance features Chinese folk songs, dance, live music and acrobatics by talented artists, who wear spectacular traditional costumes.
  • And of course, there’s the impressive, free Lantern Festival at the Auckland Domain, from Mar 1-4, which marks the end of the Chinese New Year period.

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