New Zealand Rainbow Tourism - Gay and Lesbian Travel
New Zealand is a very popular and boutique destination for gay and lesbian travelers and has a diverse range of holiday options to suit most budgets. There are many pink appeal destinations and activities across the country, from the more populated North Island (Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington) to the quieter South Island (Christchurch, Queenstown).
Over the years, New Zealand's gay and lesbian tourism industry has grown from a network of gay and lesbian owned homestays throughout New Zealand, to an expansive network of accommodation ranging from homestays and farmstays to exclusive luxury lodges and boutique hotels.
Featured Tourism Operators for Gay and Lesbian Travel
In 1998 New Zealand was the first international gay and lesbian destination to have a nationwide network of gay, lesbian owned and 'Approved Gay Lesbian Friendly' tourism businesses. In October 2004, the 'Approved Gay/Lesbian Friendly' criteria was re-branded as Rainbow Tourism Accreditation (RTA).
Many gay and lesbian events are staged throughout New Zealand with the most popular being the Hero Festival and Big Gay Out in Auckland (February), Gay Ski Week in Queenstown (August/September) and ongoing events in Wellington.
There are about 107,000 gay and lesbian people between 16-64 years living in New Zealand with Auckland having the largest group with about 42,000, followed by Wellington (15,000), Christchurch (8,000), Hamilton (8,000), Dunedin (2,000) and rest of New Zealand (32,000).
New Zealand's gay and lesbian tourism industry has about 80 gay and lesbian owned tourism related businesses ranging from accommodation, transport, bars, venues and events to restaurants and shops across the country.
While there are many accredited gay and lesbian approved or friendly businesses, New Zealand has a diverse range of world class accommodation, attractions, tours and transport options that will make a holiday a truly memorable experience.
The Hero Festival is New Zealand's biggest annual gay and lesbian pride celebration. Similar to Sydney's Mardi Gras, the Hero Festival is a two week celebration of dance, theatre, film, cabaret and sport. It culminates in an extravagant street parade and all-night dance party. The party attracts international music acts and DJs and combines contemporary gay, lesbian, Māori and Pacific island cultures, giving it a truly unique 'kiwi' essence and feeling.
The Hero Festival occurs every February.
Some of the appeal about visiting New Zealand maybe that New Zealand became the 13th and only country in the Asia Pacific region to legalise gay marriage on 17th April 2013 - much to the delight on the many New Zealand supporters. Same-sex civil unions have been legal in New Zealand since 2005 however the lawmakers approved the bill and amended the 1955 marriage act, despite opposition from lobby groups. The bill was passed with a wide majority, with 77 votes in favour and 44 against.
The act is in force from August 2013 and will allow same-sex marriages to begin. Under the Marriage Act, priests are not obliged to officiate at any marriage that would contravene Catholic beliefs and different church faiths have difference opinions on the subject. Should a church not be available, many people also use a celebrant and get married at various locations including beaches, venues and other picturesque spots around new Zealand.
Besides New Zealanders who will get married, many Australians and other international couples are welcome to travel to the country to marry their partner.