The Beatles land in New Zealand

21 June 1964

The Beatles at Wellington Airport (Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/4-071857-F)

Beatlemania hit New Zealand when 7000 hysterical fans greeted the Fab Four in Wellington during their ‘Far East’ tour. After concerts in the United States, Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, the lads from Liverpool finally touched down in New Zealand.

The Beatles’ fame preceded them and our teenagers were ready for action. At Wellington Airport police struggled to keep crowds behind a wire fence, and rapturous fans besieged the Beatles’ hotel.

On 22 June the Beatles played their first New Zealand concerts, repeating a 30-minute 11-song set as fans screamed and punctured the seats of the Wellington Town Hall with their stiletto heels. Audiences in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin followed suit. Perhaps the most dangerous moment of the tour occurred in Auckland, where several thousand people swarmed around the band; John Lennon lost a clump of hair.

The tour had a huge impact on New Zealand’s rock ’n’ roll and pop music scene. Local artists such as Ray Columbus, Howard Morrison, and Max Merritt and the Meteors benefited from a surge of interest in the Beatles’ wake.