Chinese New Year in Auckland 2018

Posted on March 28, 2018

2018 is probably one of my favourite year! Why? Because it's the year of the DOGGGGOSSSS! Other than that, I'm also working on a lot of new and exciting projects this year that I can't wait to share with you in a few months time.

Chinese New Year this year began on the 16th of February.

This is the second year I'm celebrating Chinese New Year away from my beloved hometown. Last year, Jacob and I had an amazing Chinese New Year with some of my relatives in Sydney. [Read more about it here.] This year, we celebrated this festive season in Auckland,NZ with my childhood best friend, Hannah. As the city of Auckland is one of the world's most culturally diverse cities (similar to Sydney), there were many Chinese New Year festivals and events happening all over.

Auckland's Chinese New Year Events:

Allure of the Orient at SkyCity - February 15 to March 2

When: Thu 15 Feb 2018, 7:00pm–9:00pm
Fri 16 Feb 2018, 7:00pm–9:00pm
Sat 17 Feb 2018, 7:00pm–9:00pm
Fri 23 Feb 2018, 7:00pm–9:00pm
Sat 24 Feb 2018, 7:00pm–9:00pm
Fri 2 Mar 2018, 7:00pm–9:00pm
Where: SKYCITY Auckland Main Plaza, 90 Federal Street, CBD, Auckland

The first Chinese New Year event we attended was the Allure of the Orient which was held at SkyCity Auckland Main Plaza from 7pm to 9pm every weekend from the 15th of February until the 2nd of March. The main plaza was decorated to become a Chinese New Year themed garden providing the perfect place for a photo op. On the Fridays, there was a night food-market to help keep everyone's tummy satisfied. We tried the Sheng Jian Bao / Pan-fried pork buns for the first time!

Also, on every Friday and Saturday nights at 7pm, there were free-to-watch performances of traditional and contemporary Chinese entertainments including dragon dancers, calligraphy demonstrations, Chinese musicians, and dancing pandas. They started the show with a 财神爷 (god of wealth) mascot bungee jumping from the top of the Sky Tower to the main stage-which was really cool.

They lit up the Sky Tower in gold and red lights-joining some of the tallest towers around the world to celebrate Chinese New Year in unity. It was lit with a gold base and red top from 15 February to 4 March.

These photos were taken from the Viaduct Harbour.

Chinese New Year Celebration at Botany Town Centre - February 17

When: Sat 17 Feb 2018, 3:00pm–6:00pm
Where: Botany Town Centre, Cnr Ti Rakau & Te Irirangi Dr, Botany Downs, Auckland
By: Howick Local Board

The next day, we headed down to Botany Town Centre. Although this was probably the least impressive Chinese New Year event we attended, there were some pretty good food and performances available. We were greeted by a group of old musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments at the entrance. The first few booths at the start of the festival trail were selling and demonstrating the Chinese calligraphy and painting. The calligrapher also gifted me one of his fine works with the Chinese idiom/cheng yu: 福滿乾坤 painted on. A lady working at the booth told me that it means prosperity throughout the world. The artist was really talented and I'm really grateful for his gift. We were really impressed by his demonstration of a painting of a dog in traditional Chinese method to symbolise the year of the dog.

We had some Char siu bao / Cantonese barbecue-pork-filled buns that were handmade on the spot. We had about 4 of them and went on to pack another 4 to bring home for supper-its that good. We also had some pretty steamed buns; however, they were a lil too bland for my liking.

The traditional performances weren't as interesting but it was definitely worth commending as they were mostly performed by the golden agers. There was also a 财神爷 (god of wealth) mascot walking around to give people a photo op.

A similar event was held at Pakuranga Plaza on the next day: 18 February. Unfortunately, we could not make it.

Lantern Festival at Auckland Domain #LanternAKL18 - March 1 to 4

When: Thu 1 Mar 2018, 7:00pm–10:30pm
Fri 2 Mar 2018, 5:00pm–10:30pm
Sat 3 Mar 2018, 4:00pm–10:30pm
Sun 4 Mar 2018, 4:00pm–10:30pm
Where: Auckland Domain, Domain Dr, Grafton, Auckland
By: Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, on behalf of Auckland Council, in conjunction with founding partner Asia New Zealand Foundation

The last day of Chinese New Year or the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar is known as the Lantern festival (Shangyuan Festival /上元節 or 元宵節). Do not get confuse with the other Lantern Festival/ Mid-Autumn Festival which is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar with full moon at night, corresponding to late September to early October of the Gregorian calendar with a full moon at night.

The Lantern Festival in Auckland Domain took place from the 1st to the 4th of March. It was New Zealand’s largest Chinese festival. The first day of the event was the Lantern Appreciation Night. There were no stalls, performances, nor amusements on that day.

We went on the 4th of March (Sunday) to check out the beautiful lanterns being placed all over the park. Hundreds of handmade lanterns that were designed with different themes were placed around the entire park. They were very beautifully illuminated during the night. Unlike the first day, there was a great variety of entertainments (including music, dance, and theatre performers from New Zealand and China); martial arts displays and workshops; arts and craft stalls; food stalls and a mini carnival rides for the children. It was also here where I found some 冰糖葫蘆 (bingtanghulu), which is a traditional Chinese candied fruits made out of fruits coated in a crispy shell of sugar skewered on bamboo sticks. At 10.15pm, the event had its finale with an impressive show of fireworks.

Partnering with the Auckland Lantern Festival, Vector Lights will also be lighting up the Auckland Harbour Bridge from the 1st to the 4th of March to welcome in the Year of the Dog. The light show started at 8.30pm, then, every half hour after-until midnight. The show also featured a dog chasing a ball-I'm obviously captivated because dogs are involved.

The light show could be seen from a couple of different locations. We watched it from the Silo Marina. It was very short and not as great as what we've expected it to be; but, it was still pretty cool to see the entire Harbour Bridge lit up and light tricks were displayed.

Celebrations at home:

This is the first time I was not able to celebrate this special occasion with any of my family members. However, my bestfriend Hannah came up to Auckland from Hamilton to celebrate with Jacob and I. I made Tom Yum soup accompanied by some sweet and sour pork to go with rice. Hannah brought over a box of super yummy Korean Fried Chicken from Dak Hanmari. We then made our own "healthy" version of Yusheng (魚生) / Prosperity Toss using sour mangoes, chillis, cucumbers, purple cabbages, and some crackers.

Last but not least, I want to extend my gratitude towards my family (THE BEST FAMILY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD) back home for all the red packets! You guys never fail to brighten up my Chinese New Year wherever I'm at. I rmiss celebrating with ya'll so so much! Thank you, Hannah, for coming all the way to Auckland to celebrate with us. Love you loads!

Check out the video on my Youtube channel: Rubes Charles Leong to get a glimpse of what we did for Chinese New Year this year in action!