Outlet Podcast: Ayrburn's Chinese New Year celebrations

3 minutes read
Posted 5 February, 2024
Ayrburn Plunket

Ayrburn will celebrate the Chinese New Year over the next fortnight, bookended by two not-to-be-missed noodle markets.

The new Arrowtown food and wine precinct will be festooned with Chinese decorations, including a huge inflatable dragon, as it pays homage to the town's historic connection to China, the modern Chinese community in Queenstown Lakes, and visitors from the PRC.

It will host traditional dance performances, a lantern festival, and the markets, featuring Chinese dumplings and other Asian cuisine, as well as local bands. There's even a new speciality cocktail to try out.

The Outlet Queenstown podcast host Brent Harbour caught up with organisers Jo Brown and Anna Kerslake on this week's episode, to find out what's in store.


Jo says the markets, on Saturdays 10 and 24 February, will be held in the "beautiful natural amphitheatre" of the dell, where many locals had their first Ayrburn experience with the Christmas markets in December.

"This time around we're having the wonderful Chinese New Year festivities. As you approach the dell and walk through the precinct at Ayrburn, beautiful vibrant Chinese decorations will greet you, including a very impressive eight-metre inflatable dragons that has LED lights, so it's worth staying a little bit later to check those out."

Along with the Chinese dumplings, there'll be noodle dishes from the new pop up Number 8 noodle bar in Five Mile, including handmade noodles on site, and bubble tea from Wucha, as well as Japanese ramen and Taiwanese fried chicken.

Ayrburn's multicultural chefs will also showcase their talents.

Anna says The Dunedin Senior Chinese Association will perform, with stunning costumes.

"The lead dancer is named Lady Xu. She is really a beloved lady in our Chinese community," Anna says. "She has performed in Arrowtown before, if you have watched the video of Arrowtown's Autumn Festival, she was there. She was fantastic.

"She will bring four dancers. One famous dance is the fan dance, which is beautiful. Their costumes and magnificent and I think people will enjoy it."

Traditionally, as part of a Chinese lantern festival, people write messages to loved ones and place them in paper lanterns. Candles in attached baskets are lit and the lanterns float away into the skies.

But with the summer fire risk, that's not possible, Jo says, so instead visitors will be able to put messages into lanterns hung from Ayrburn's wonderful silver berch trees.

There'll even be a Chinese calligraphy expert on site to give tips to those wanting to write messages.

Anna says the local Chinese community is "very happy" Ayrburn has chosen to host such festivities, which are a major part of the country's cultural life.

On the podcast, Brent also talks to Elessa Impey and Margot Robinson about the Gardens + Galleries Festival, running from 8-11 February as a fundraiser for Wakatipu Plunket.


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