Americarna: How to make the most of one of Taranaki’s biggest festivals

Americarna: How to make the most of one of Taranaki’s biggest festivals

There is a lot to enjoy in Americarna even if you’re not participating in the event. With daily events around Taranaki, this four-day festival is hugely fun to experience.

Americarna is an annual event celebrating American car culture, attracting nearly a thousand cars of varying vintages from across New Zealand. Participants have their own agenda of activities to partake in while spectators can hop around and join in on one of the many free happenings in the region.

The yearly event usually takes place in late February – an ideal time to enjoy some sun while experiencing something unique and new.

Plan a Picnic

Every year Americarna announces their Cruise Routes where several stops include a few hours to chill out, check out the cards, and enjoy a bite to eat.

Typically the first day of the festival includes a beach stop in Ōpunake – the perfect place for a picnic. Bring along something tasty and walk around the cars, chat to the enthusiastic participants, and dip your toes in the sand!

Follow the official festival website or Facebook Page for updates on their routes.


Dress Up!

Each day of the Americarna festival includes a theme, which can be found on the festival website. Themes include Hawaiin, Rock’n’Roll, Western, and of course, Red White & Blue.

Go big and have fun with it. There are hundreds of people strolling about in 50s dresses, as Betty Boop, dawning cowboy hats, and sporting American flags.


Shop Unique

Several of the stops in Taranaki towns offer music, food, and retail stalls. Peruse the different retail pop-ups and find something different.

The final day, Americarnival, is a great opportunity to stumble upon a unique gift, or a cool souvenir for yourself including up-cycled vinyl handbags, Betty Boop throw pillows, and oversized belt buckles.


Watch the Drag Races

The Acceleration Display in Hāwera is a core festival feature as the town’s streets are lined with barriers and road cars give their engines a blast! Watch an array of vehicles from pre 1950’s to modern classics cruise quickly around corners, racing the clock to be crowned the best in their category.

Keep your eyes peeled for the 550 horsepower margarita mixer (based on a 350 Chevy engine with supercharger) – it’s a doozy!


Join the Street Party

On the Friday before the finale, Americarnival, hundreds of American cars stroll down Mangorei Rd in New Plymouth has masses of people line the street and wave, cheer, and fire up the BBQ.

It’s not uncommon to find homes with couches dragged out front and someone cooking up a sausage sizzle for spectators to join in on. Make a friend and enjoy the fun!


Take the Kids Out

Americarna is as much for adults as it is for the little one. There is plenty to occupy kids during the festival, but the final day is where most the action is.

Americarnival fills New Plymouth’s CBD streets with hundreds of American cars while music, food, and retail stalls are on offer for the crowds.

Watch in awe the hydraulic car display, cheer loudly at the Harley Davidson stunt bike show, and jump in the children’s activities held at Puke Ariki Landing. It’s a great family day out and free to attend by all.


Book Accommodation Early

This one is not so fun as it is important. Americarna is a massive event in the region and the main city books out fast and early. Nearly a thousand people will flock to New Plymouth for the festival, many of whom are regular attendees with ongoing bookings so as to never miss out.

While there are events around Taranaki, majority of the fun occurs in the main city. Find a spot walking distance to town and close to eateries and book it quick. Then sit back, relax, and wait for the fun.