There’s nothing like a good food and/or wine festival, especially in a country such as New Zealand. We have a wide variety of fresh produce grown right here on Kiwi soil, and NZ Wine states that there are upward of 2,046 vineyards here, too (that’s 35,510 total hectares – not bad for a small country)!
Add those on top of our great range of home-grown and ex-pat chefs and you’ve got a recipe for road trip success. To celebrate the great culinary culture of our homeland, we’ve put together a list of some of our top festivals that you need to attend.
Taste of Auckland
This event offers a fantastic all-in-one experience for visitors hoping to taste the very best of Auckland’s food scene. It is hosted in a gorgeous outdoor setting, where gourmet food stalls parade their scrumptious offerings amid myriad pop-up wine stalls. This is a perfect add-on to a North Island road trip holiday.
Food and Wine Classic
Over in Hawkes Bay, the Food and Wine Classic occurs twice annually (there’s a summer and winter season) and showcases the region’s local growers in a series of one-off events. Here, you can meet the friendly chefs, talk wine with expert growers and indulge your palate like never before.
Whitianga Scallop Festival
Should your driving holiday itinerary take you to the Coromandel, you simply can’t go home without first visiting the Whitianga Scallop Festival. This is one of NZ’s favourite seafood events, regularly hosting up to 60 different stall holders to satisfy your cravings while entertainers keep the buzz going, and cooking demonstrations show you what a true pro is capable of in the kitchen.
Attention coffee lovers: Make Wellington your number one destination to see how great Caffeination is – one of the few coffee-crazy festivals in the country. There is coffee cooking here, plus coffee championships, classes, equipment sales and, of course, coffee drinking!
Marlborough Wine and Food Festival
According to NZ Wine, Marlborough is the nation’s largest vineyard region, so what better place to attend a world-class festival? The event’s website states it is both the first and longest-running wine event in New Zealand, and is held each year in the fairytale-like Brancott Vineyard. There’s more than just wine present here, though. There’s also a unique fashion event and world-class performers (The Black Seeds will be performing in 2016).
Hokitika Wildfoods Festival
Have you ever tried eating grasshoppers? How about mountain oysters, huhu grubs or crocodile bites? These unusual creations are your everyday business at Hokitika’s famous (or infamous) Wildfoods Festival, alongside a diverse range of slightly more regular gourmet goodies.
Cadbury Chocolate Carnival
Across the South Island and a bit further down, the Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival takes place every year and is always a treat. This is a week-long event that includes all the chocolate tastings, tours, decorating lessons and facials (yes, chocolate facials) you could ask for, and then some. Indeed, the annual Jaffa Race sees hundreds of the bright-orange sweets bouncing down one of the world’s steepest streets, Baldwin.
Bluff Oyster and Food Festival
One of the South Island’s most famous seafood events, the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival regularly brings in droves of locals, and is an awesome place to catch a glimpse of the local industry. Alongside the eponymous oysters, you can also try whitebait, blue cod, crayfish, paua, salmon and scallops here, as well as varieties of non-seafood game meat. Wash it all down with a selection of local wines, beers or just a warm cup of coffee.