May 6th, 2021

More stellar events announced as part of the 2021 New Zealand International Science Festival

Creating young engineers with giant building blocks and an up-close experience with the Curiosity Rover, mathematicians with geometric papercraft, and ecologists with an indoor forest are just some of the fantastic experiences added to the 2021 Science Festival lineup today! 

The Festival is thrilled to be announcing additional events to its largest and most dynamic festival to date. With over 150 events planned, the Festival team are excited for what is to come this year. The full programme will be revealed in early June, leaving over a month for participants to plan their Festival experience, which spans eleven days around the July school holidays. 

The Festival will open with Science in the Spotlight, a fireside chat between Festival patron Helen Anderson, the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Dame Juliet Gerrard, and the chair of the Climate Commission Rod Carr. The discussion will focus on the challenges we face, as well as the massive leaps forward science is making toward tackling our future climate crisis.

NZISF is thrilled to present the Maths Craft Festival, a free event as part of the festival, hosted at the Dunedin Town Hall. Co-founded and run by mathematicians Dr Jeanette McLeod and Dr Phil Wilson, the event is dedicated to bringing maths to the masses, through craft. Over the past five years, Maths Craft have run festivals and workshops all over the country, and now, armed with crochet hooks and origami paper, Maths Craft is coming to the New Zealand International Science Festival for the first time.

Imagination Playground is a kids building and engineering experience where participants are encouraged to build whatever structure their mind can muster with giant blue building blocks.  Imagination Playground will form part of the Science Festival Trail, a chain of activities available within 10 minutes walk of the Octagon. Festival director Dan Hendra is thrilled to be able to present Imagination Playground in Dunedin for the first time, which will become a mainstay of future festivals.

The University of Otago’s Dunedin Study exhibitionSlice of Life’, launched at Toitū in 2018 with rave reviews, and which has been on the road ever since, returns home and will join in the 2021 Festival’s line up. The exhibition will be held at the old Smith’s City building in South Dunedin and run from the beginning of June.

Unleash your inner detective with The Science of Crime series, which will put forensic science under the microscope and take attendees deeper into the science of crime scene investigation. Forget what TV crime drama has taught you - this is the real deal. Conceived and presented by a forensic science expert, The Science of Crime offers a number of different experiences suitable for young children through to teenagers and adults.

The Festival, in cooperation with the Meridian Mall and the Dunedin City Council, will be establishing an indoor forest experience for the duration of the festival which accompanies hands-on activities exploring the world around us. The Outside/Inside Forest will contain hundreds of plants, donated for the week by the Ribbonwood Nurseries.

The Golden Centre Mall will play host to the Victoria University of Wellington’s replica of NASA’s Curiosity Rover, which is an operational model of the robot which touched down on the Martian surface in August 2012 and continues to broadcast data back to earth to this day. The replica rover will be available for viewing on the second weekend of the Festival.

The full programme will be available in The Star newspaper as an insert on Thursday 3rd June 2021 and at

The festival is made possible thanks to our long term major partners, the Dunedin City Council, the University of Otago, and the Otago Community Trust, all who share our vision of making science accessible for everyone.