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FOOD & DRINK

Ten Summer Food Festivals Worth Travelling Around the Country For

Start planning a road trip to sample wild delicacies on the South Island's west coast, smashable wine in the sunny Hawke's Bay and all kinds of fried chicken in the capital.
By Stephen Heard
December 15, 2020
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By Stephen Heard
December 15, 2020
  shares

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting ban on all non-essential organised gatherings saw mass gatherings up and down the country either cancelled, postponed or suspended. With restrictions now lifted and summer in full swing, the nation's beloved food and wine festivals are slowly reappearing on the calendar. Start planning a road trip to sample wild delicacies on the South Island's west coast, smashable wine in the sunny Hawke's Bay and all kinds of fried chicken in the capital.

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WELLINGTON WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL, WELLINGTON

The capital's finest wine, food and craft beer will all be on show at this one-day culinary celebration next February. A selection of Wellington's top restaurants are set to deliver exquisite dishes in the (hopefully) sunny grounds of Waitangi Park, while the wine, cider and craft beer beverages will flow from both local and international brands. The festival is big on affordability, with all food items limited to a maximum price of $12. Live music is provided by some of the country's top musicians to keep the festival alive.

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WILDFOODS FESTIVAL, HOKITIKA

For all things weird and wonderful, make a beeline for Hokitika's Wildfoods Festival. All manner of mouthwatering and off-putting delicacies are available at the annual festival on the South Island's west coast, from whitebait fritters and wild venison to lamb testicles and snout on a stick. The festival is known for its party atmosphere and dressing up is highly encouraged. For the next edition on Saturday, 13 March, well-travelled musical acts Elemeno P, The Feelers and Stellar* are taking the stage.

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WAIRARAPA HARVEST FESTIVAL, WAIRARAPA

The next edition of Wairarapa Harvest Festival will be held on Saturday, 13 March on the sheltered banks of the Ruamahunga River. The remote vineyard setting in rural Wairarapa is part of the appeal and every year sees hundreds of thirsty Wellingtonians rush for tickets. The day out is led by produce from the region, with further emphasis put on live music, art exhibitions and static displays. The site is ten minutes from both Masterton and Carterton and a shuttle service conveniently runs from Wellington train stop.

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HAVELOCK MUSSEL AND SEAFOOD FESTIVAL, HAVELOCK

Shucking good fun — the Havelock Mussel Festival is an annual event celebrating the very special kai moana all farmed in and around the waters of Havelock. The family-friendly event specialises in food and beverage stalls hawking green-shell mussels, king salmon and pacific oysters. Live entertainment for the event on Saturday, 13 March, 2021 will come from Robinson, Zed and The Brothers Grimm, while television chef Michael Van De Elzen will be serving up local produce during cooking demos.

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AUCKLAND VEGAN FOOD FESTIVAL, AUCKLAND

Auckland's Vegan Food Festival rounds up some of the best ethically minded vendors in the city. The third outing of the dedicated vegan festival will take place on Sunday, 7 March at Corban Estate Arts Centre and will once again include a variety of food trucks serving their take on vegan street food. Last year's event included everything from plant-based dumplings and mouthwatering burgers to European-style fries and organic gelato. The family-friendly food celebration comes complete with an eco marketplace featuring local crafts, plant-based health and beauty products, clothing and accessories, plus live entertainment, cooking demonstrations and wellness talks.

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RIPE WANAKA WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL, WANAKA

Set at Wānaka's stunning Corbridge Estate, Ripe Festival is a celebration of the rich Central Otago wine region.​ Visitors will enjoy a day of music and entertainment to accompany the bountiful local wine and food from more than 30 local providers. There'll be a cooking demonstration from celebrated Kiwi chef Nadia Lim and music to finish by the Jordan Luck Band. New Zealands only master sommelier Cameron Douglas will also lead a presentation on wine tasting.

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NORTH CANTERBURY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL, WAIPARA VALLEY

Over 4000 hungry souls indulged beneath the oaks of Waipara Valley's Glenmark Domain at 2020's North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival. The celebration is back on Saturday, 7 March celebrating the harvesters and producers of the region. The North Canterbury wine region is home to some 90 vineyards and over 20 cellar doors where you can sample interesting and expressive wines. In 2021, the all-ages family festival will feature makers and growers from across Canterbury, while musicians and DJs lay down mellow tunes and foot stomping grooves.

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WELLINGTON FRIED CHICKEN FESTIVAL, WELLINGTON

From the event company behind Beers at the Basin, Wellington Wine and Food Festival and Go Green Expo comes the inaugural Wellington Fried Chicken Festival. Hosted across two sessions next February 27 at Frank Kitts Park, the event will see Wellington's finest food trucks and restaurants present their best chicken-inspired dishes. Whether it's deep-fried, basted, grilled, or baked — you'll find it here. Pair that with beer, wine, cider and more from the top breweries and wineries in the area.

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BRIDGE PA WINE FESTIVAL, HAWKES BAY

For its seventh year, Hawke's Bay's much-loved Bridge Pa Wine Festival will see six wineries from the triangle wine district come together and deliver the goods. The wineries include Abbey Estate, Alpha Domus, Ash Ridge, Oak Estate, Paritua and Red Metal. All will be connected by a hop 0n, hop off bus service allowing attendees to visit multiple wineries and enjoy a range of wine-fuelled experiences. Each winery has different offerings of wine, food, and music.

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AUCKLAND CRAFT BEER AND FOOD FESTIVAL, AUCKLAND

From the team behind the long-standing Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival comes the inaugural Auckland Craft Beer and Food Festival. The event on Saturday, March 27 will transform Spark Arena into the country's biggest urban beer garden, bringing together more than 50 breweries alongside local food vendors. The day will also feature a musical lineup, including early 2000s pop-rock heartthrobs Zed, neo-soul act Molly & The Chromatics and DJ outfit Nice'n'Urlich, with more to be announced. General admission tickets are $45, while $90 family passes are available for two adults and up to four children.

Published on December 15, 2020 by Stephen Heard

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