Armageddon Ultimate Guide
Armageddon Expo is the flagship of New Zealand geekdom, a true by-fans for-fans experience which brings together big international stars and the unique community spirit of this gentle country. If you’re making a visit to Narnia, Middle Earth, or simply the countless natural wonders of New Zealand’s two islands, don’t miss the chance to meet the people who live there, at the convention where their imagination and passion are on full display! Read on for our detailed breakdown of the Armageddon event calendar.
WHAT IS IT?
Founded by Bill and Adele Geradts in 1995, Armageddon began life in the northern city of Auckland as a swap-meet for locals passionate about gaming, comics and sci-fi. From the very first event Armageddon has kept a broad scope, bringing different communities together in a raft of overlapping interests to create a diverse set of attractions. The Expo was successful enough among Kiwis to expand into Wellington in 2001, and has gradually added events in more of New Zealand’s major cities over the last two decades to become a brand synonymous with geek culture in the country. Now closing in on its 100th event, Armageddon has grown to fill stadiums and stands as one of the biggest pop culture events in the southern hemisphere.
GO IF YOU LIKE…
The organisers behind Armageddon Expo make an effort to ensure each event appeals to as many different niches of geekdom as possible. Whether you like comic books, pro wrestling, esports, youtube and twitch creators, TV and movies, or tabletop games, there will be something here for you. And since most people tend to enjoy more than one thing, walking through such a dense congregation of interests can feel like being a kid in a candy shop.
Armageddon always brings in a star-studded lineup of celebrities for each Expo, offering signings, panels and photo ops as a centrepiece of the convention. If you’re trying to decide on which city’s event to travel to, finding the guest list you’re most excited about is a great way to break the tie.
CHOOSE YOUR CITY!
Armageddon Expo has grown beyond a single city and now hosts multiple events across New Zealand every year. Every event features unique guests and attractions to keep things fresh – so you can do the circuit and see them all, or keep an eye out for announcements on social media for the city with the most of your favourites! Ticket vendors, prices and categories are also unique to each city, so make sure you know where and when to buy the ones you want.
Obviously, planning your travel to Armageddon Expo is going to be different depending on which Armageddon you’re attending. However, if you’re visiting from overseas you’re going to be booking a flight. Air travel is common even for domestic use in New Zealand due to the islands’ geography, so you’ll be able to land very close to your destination regardless of which city you’re aiming for!
For Armageddon Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, there are international airports located right in the suburbs of the host city. If you’re staying near the city centre you can catch a regular Skybus to get there efficiently, or for a little more cash each airport offers a shuttle service which takes a small load of passengers directly to their accommodation.
If you’re planning on attending Armageddon Tauranga, then you’ll most likely be stopping over in Auckland before catching a domestic flight to Rotorua Airport, which is nearest to the Expo. It’s about an hour’s drive from Rotorua to the coastal city of Tauranga should you rent a car, or you can book a bus with local travel services. Alternatively, you can take the road route all the way from Auckland to Tauranga, which is between a 150 and 180 minute drive depending on traffic – bus services exist for this trip as well.
WHERE TO STAY
The organisers of Armageddon Expo don’t have any special partner deals on accommodation for the events, so it’s largely a matter of preference where you stay in your chosen host city. New Zealand has a well-established and welcoming culture for room sharing as well as world-class hotels, especially for those who prefer minimalist settings close to nature. However, each of the Armageddon host cities for 2020 has its own unique traits and attractions, which you should consider when choosing which event to attend. Even if you’re only staying a few days, it would be wasteful not to see a little more of New Zealand outside the convention – and there is a LOT to see!
Auckland is the most built-up and cosmopolitan city in New Zealand, with a famous downtown district set poetically right along the bright blue sea. Those looking to live it up on an urban holiday or stay in luxury accomodations will enjoy it here, and the Auckland Expo is the flagship event of the year. Auckland also holds some surprises and adventures to spice up your trip, like the chance to bungie jump off the famous Sky Tower!
Wellington is a more vintage city in design, with the dignity one would expect of the nation’s capital and some gorgeous architecture to gawk at. However, it also holds a thriving bohemian culture with well-funded public art spaces and a celebrated collection of cafes. It’s a wonderful city to just walk around when you’re not at the expo, or to grab a delicious dessert on your way back to your rooms.
Tauranga is a relaxed and scenic seaside city, with stunning ocean views, great surf, and close-by national parks. The waterfront district, known as The Strand, is a fantastic spot for accomodation over the weekend, offering easy access to pubs and cafes as well as the harbour which supplies much of the local entertainment. Whether you prefer to fish, swim, surf or sail, there are plenty of options to relax by the sea in your downtime. You could even glimpse the area’s famous dolphins at play!
Christchurch is far down on the South Island, leading to some veritably arctic weather conditions! However in return for the brisk air, visitors will find themselves in close proximity to some truly stunning natural landscapes. Outshining even the rest of this notoriously scenic country, the region was otherworldly enough to pass for Middle-Earth through much of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie trilogies.
THINGS TO DO AT ARMAGEDDON!
The headline attraction for most Armageddon events is the guestlist, which features all manner of celebrities local and international for panels and signing sessions. No other convention in the country has the clout and reputation of Armageddon when it comes to landing big names, so the Expo becomes a one-stop-shop for meeting renowned streamers, voice actors and artists. The organisers have an impressive ability to keep bringing different guests in over time, and to keep up with a good mix of current stars and nostalgic favourites for fans to interact with.
The other big reason to make it out to Armageddon is the fan community itself. New Zealand has a large and passionate base of artists, cosplayers and other creators who love the pop cultural interest Armageddon represents. The Expo is the biggest gathering and trading floor in the country for these fans, and a ton of tremendous art and merchandise can be gotten here, and nowhere else. If you’re interested in exhibiting or cosplaying yourself, you can apply for a booth at the expo of your choice online, or enter yourself into one of Armageddon’s famous cosplay contests. Sometimes themed to spice things up, each city declares a best-in-show winner to go on and appear at the national cosplay championship in Auckland at the end of the year. But if you don’t feel the need to compete, you can still flaunt your look and wow the crowd in the event’s cosplay parade!
Video games and internet culture have become a huge uniting factor for geeks worldwide and they are an equally big deal at Armageddon. Walk-up gaming contests offer fantastic prizes and are a great source of live entertainment, as are appearances from popular streamers and Youtubers. For the other kind of gaming star, you can check out the Expo’s esports stage and witness the highest level of play in games like Fortnite, Street Fighter and Counterstrike. Often Armageddon will be the platform for national championships in these games, drawing passionate crowds for the high stakes matches.
More than just the games themselves, Armageddon is often the landing zone for the most impressive and innovative gaming hardware. Streaming gear, high-end PC builds and the latest Virtual and Augmented Reality systems are available to demo, offering a chance to glimpse the future of gaming a year or two ahead of time!
‘GEDDON MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR
It’s almost impossible for us to cover all the different potential attractions across four different Armageddon Expos in this guide, but it’s important to highlight the diversity of the attractions on offer, as many talented New Zealanders exhibit their wares. Impact Pro Wrestling, one of the nation’s pioneering promotions and home of international women’s wrestling star Candy Lee, frequently holds blockbuster live matches at the Expo. One of Armageddon’s most beloved traditions is a charity nerf battle, where teams or individuals can shoot it out in a specially designed arena for glory (and the benefit of local foundations). These novelties are part of what elevates a solid convention weekend to a unique and memorable experience, and every Armageddon adds another new twist to that schedule.
There are also plenty of ways to extend the geek experience past what the convention allowes, especially if you’re game to go in for the luxurious VIP packages. In addition to private panels and greeting sessions with the celebrity guests, these special passes guarantee access to the secret location of the Armageddon Afterparty, a cocktail event where you can party away the last night of the event in style. If you’re attending the Christchurch Armageddon, then you can very easily take a day trip detour out to Queenstown, the “Adventure Capital of the World”, where you can challenge yourself with adrenaline-pumping stunts from white-water rafting to heli-biking! And for those who want to explore the Middle Earth connection further, we recommend Armageddon Tauranga – you can easily visit the pristine Shire set from your accommodation.
POP CULTURE, NEW ZEALAND STYLE
The islands of New Zealand are one of the world’s most desirable tourist destinations, combining rugged and beautiful landscapes with an easy hospitality and a diverse range of attractions. Taking a trip to experience Armageddon in one of the nation’s great cities will give you a chance to sample from a buffet of local excellence in geekdom, with some international stars as a sublime dessert! And if you like it enough, you may find yourself returning to the Land of the Long White Cloud again and again, visiting all the sites the islands have to offer and enjoying a different kind of Armageddon every time!