As great as they are, there’s a lot more to New Zealand food than meat pies and fish and chips… The country is home to an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats that thrive in the diverse but mild climate. And with the addition of some creative and internationally-trained chefs, the national food scene is exploding.
In addition to innovative restaurants and cafes around the country, New Zealand hosts a number of festivals featuring food and drink. Try one of these festivals for a true taste of New Zealand.
Marlborough Wine Festival
If you know anything about New Zealand’s wine industry then you’ve heard of the Marlborough region and their famous sauvignon blanc wines. Due to Marlborough’s Mediterranean climate, the region is ideal for growing all kinds of grapes and the Marlborough Wine Festival offers you a great opportunity to sample these.
The festival also doubles as a fashion show. So pull out your best dress and your finest pair of shoes. Entry into the competition is free and there are some great prizes available to the best dressed men and women in attendance. The festival is held in early February in the town of Blenheim.
Brightwater Food and Wine Festival
The Brightwater Food and Wine Festival, held in late February every year, is a staple of summer in Nelson. Like neighboring Marlborough, the Nelson region benefits from a Mediterranean climate, making it an ideal area for agriculture and viticulture.
Not only are the basic ingredients fresh and delicious, but Nelson is home to a large number of artists and is known for the creative energy that pulses through the city. The creativity extends to the kitchen, and many beloved Nelson restaurants hold stalls at the festival.
A small coastal town, known worldwide as a whale watching destination, Kaikoura’s local cuisine revolves around seafood. It’s appropriate then that every October the town hosts a large seafood and wine festival.
Make a marine-themed weekend of it and hop on a whale watching tour while you’re in town. And don’t forget to visit the seal colony!
Blue, Brews and BBQs
Wine is the focal point of many New Zealand food festivals, but the country also produces some high quality beer. In January and early February, Blues, Brews and BBQs celebrates local beer in three locations: Mt. Manganui, Hastings and Blenheim.
The ‘summer barbeque’ theme of the event is complemented by live performances of talented blue musicians.
Wildfoods is one New Zealand’s most famed food festivals. Held annually in Hokitika, the Wildfoods Festival celebrates foods that may be a little too wild to make it regularly onto your dinner table. Try huhu grubs, scorpions and sea kelp. Every year the festival rolls out new strange and unexpected food.
The festival also doubles as a massive costume party, with a different theme every year. Be sure to dress up! The festival is held in March, so you have plenty of time to think of something to wear.
Author Bio: Whitney Cox is a New Zealand-based travel blogger who often writes about things to do in Nelson and other attractions around New Zealand.