New Zealand’s Conference Scene Elevated 

2nd October 2023

New Zealand has set its sights on attracting a record number of international conferences, supported by three new state-of-the-art conference centres. The new infrastructure aims to capitalize on New Zealand's natural beauty, warm hospitality, and innovative spirit to entice conference organizers and delegates from around the world, positioning the country as a premier destination for global gatherings.

Words Rochelle Long

New Zealand’s three new sustainably designed convention centers mark a significant boost to its conference capabilities. According to Bjoern Spreitzer, General Manager for NZ & Business Events at Tourism New Zealand, these modern venues solidify the country’s status as a world-class conference destination and enable them to bid for larger-scale events. Tourism New Zealand aims to secure a record 90 international conference bids in the next fiscal year.

“Business events is a core market for us, bringing high quality visitors that deliver knowledge, business and economic benefits, and positive social legacies. This is a great time to focus on the sector and target sustainable growth,” he says.

All of the new convention centres offer cutting-edge technology, flexible function space, and world-class cuisine. But each offers its own look and identity, leveraging its host city’s strengths with impressive results.

Christchurch – from earth science to the stars

Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is just over a year old, having opened in May 2022. Rising on the banks of the Ōtākaro Avon River, it’s a very short but scenic stroll from the vast array of hotels, restaurants and retail outlets in the revitalised city centre of Ōtautahi Christchurch.

In the first 13 months of operation, Te Pae Christchurch hosted 290 events with more than 145,000 attendees including 88 convention events, 13 of which were international conferences.

Offering 28,000 sqm of flexible space, including a 1400-seat tiered auditorium divisible into two 700-seat venues, Te Pae Christchurch aims to increase its share of international conventions in the coming years in key sectors.

This October, it will host the ACM VRST Symposium, bringing 300 international VR software and technology specialists to the city and showcasing Christchurch’s world-renowned HITLab and tech sector. Then, the APSA Asian Seed Congress in November is expected to attract some 1000 delegates, drawing on the knowledge benefits of the Canterbury region’s strong agri/tech sector. 

In 2024, Te Pae Christchurch will host the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress, a large regional medical conference; and the Extreme Solar Systems V Conference, which will welcome some 500 astronomers from around the globe, aligning with Christchurch’s burgeoning aerospace business cluster.

The International Conference on Geomorphology (1000 delegates) has chosen the city for 2026, capitalising on the strong earth science focus in New Zealand and the Canterbury region.

Wellington sets sights on Science City

New Zealand’s capital city Wellington officially opened its new conference and exhibition centre, Tākina, in May this year, with more than 50 multi-day conferences already booked in its first year.

Located directly opposite Wellington’s waterfront and Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, Tākina’s ground floor public exhibition space and laneway ensure it’s at the heart of life in this creative capital’s cultural precinct.

Tākina incorporates 10,000 sqm of flexible conferencing space over two levels, with capacity for plenaries up to 1,600. This new facility has seen Wellington attract larger international conferences, including the International Council for Traditional Music’s 48th World Conference and the International Council for Open and Distance Education’s World Conference, both in 2025 and expecting more than 800 delegates. 

The city is also securing more regional conferences including The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases Conference and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, both bringing their Annual Scientific Meetings to Wellington in 2024.

Attracting conferences in the science and education sectors is a key focus in Wellington’s business events strategy, as evidenced by the city holding the inaugural Life Sciences Summit earlier this year. This strategy received a boost when the New Zealand Government recently announced a $450m investment to make Wellington a ‘Science City’ through the creation of three new research hubs, bringing together research and expertise in oceans, climate and hazards, health and pandemic readiness, and advanced manufacturing and materials, energy futures and biotech.

Auckland – culture and sustainability on a grand scale 

Due to open in mid-2025, the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) will be the largest new venue. Rising in the city centre of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, it will link directly by air bridges to the new Horizon Hotel and the SkyCity entertainment precinct and laneways connecting delegates to the vibrancy of New Zealand’s largest city.

Its flexible convention and event space will cater for up to 4,000 people across 32,500 sqm, including a theatre capacity of 2,850 people.

Ahead of its opening date, NZICC has already confirmed 11 international conferences, with a pipeline of more than 60 international and large-scale domestic bookings holding space or in active discussions for 2025 and beyond.

International conferences announced to date include the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) 2025, estimated to attract 3000 delegates and showcase New Zealand’s Indigenous Māori culture and education sector. 

Science will take centre stage at the International Symposium on Microbial Ecology (ISME) in 2026, attracting some 1800 delegates to the city; sustainability and the environment will be at the fore at the International Coral Reef Symposium, and the Federation of Asian and Oceania Pest Managers Associations (FAOPMA) Conference, both expected to attract more than 2,500 delegates in 2026. 

For more information on bringing your next conference to New Zealand, visit

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