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Arena Market: New Zealand

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The land of the long white cloud is a must-stop on tours of Australasia. Although it was slower than many other countries to fully reopen after Covid, it has a buzzing domestic music scene and enthusiastic audiences for international acts. Things are looking very positive ahead.

On the North Island, Auckland is the country’s most populous region. With configurations from 2,000-12,000 people, the city’s Spark Arena has been hosting international artists since opening in 2007.

General manager Mark Gosling says the venue only reopened for concerts in May 2022, but the live business is slowly recovering.

“There is no doubt that New Zealand is still very much on the touring calendar for international acts”

“Our Q3 and Q4 calendar is very full with international content as a lot of shows postponed into this part of the year, so we are forecasting similar numbers to a ‘normal’ year but effectively producing those numbers in a much shortened time frame,” he says.

“There is no doubt that New Zealand is still very much on the touring calendar for international acts. Like everywhere, there are some operational concerns at the moment, such as higher airline prices, freight costs, and staffing, but all of those problems will wash out as the world returns to greater capacity and the flow of people around the world returns to a more normal level.

The domestic music scene really thrived during the two years of Covid, as for long periods venues were open but only to domestic content.”

“We’re seeing growth opportunities in VIP experiences and upsells for patrons wanting an enhanced event”

Looking ahead to the next 18 months, the pipeline of content looks very healthy, Gosling reports. He says the calendar currently leans more towards younger-age-group artists rather than the older legacy acts.

“We’re seeing growth opportunities in VIP experiences and upsells for patrons wanting an enhanced event.”

The venue is currently exploring the potential of expanding its capacity and is looking to create new corporate spaces and make backstage area improvements. “We are also looking to launch a membership scheme, which we are aiming to have ready in the next few months,” reports Gosling.

Forthcoming acts at the venue include Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Kendrick Lamar, and Tyler, the Creator. In the capital, Wellington’s TSB Arena also has a strong calendar ahead, says general manager Warrick Dent.

“There is no doubt that New Zealand is still very much on the touring calendar for international acts”

He says Covid is having an impact in terms of consumer purchasing behaviour – there’s more late ticket buying and erratic sales patterns for some events. “The overall view though is that interest is strong; people are wanting to attend live shows and go out and enjoy themselves,” he adds.

Dent says comedy is emerging as a particularly strong sector for the TSB Arena but remarks that now restrictions on international travel are ending worldwide, the real growth opportunities ahead are in international acts.

The city-owned venue recently achieved EarthCheck bronze accreditation from the renowned global benchmarking and certification programme for sustainable travel, tourism, and events.

Over the past two years, the 3,560-5,900-capacity venue made incremental improvements, including new seating and digital signage. “We are currently considering a major upgrade to the arena and are in the initial planning stages of that.

“People are wanting to attend live shows and go out and enjoy themselves”

It would include increasing the loft and load capabilities of the arena, improved F&B offerings, upgraded public facilities and dressing rooms,” says Dent.

Forthcoming acts at the TSB Arena include Groove Armada, Andy C, David Gray, Stormzy, and OneRepublic.

On the South Island, the 8,800-capacity Christchurch Arena is run by city council-owned Venues Ōtautahi – formerly called Vbase. The rebranding reflects the te reo (Māori) name of Christchurch.

Built in 1988, the arena has 18 corporate suites and is just ten minutes from the city’s Central Business District. Forthcoming acts include Andy C, David Gray, The Killers, and Jimmy Carr.

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