Fancy yourself a bit of a foodie? Is sampling as much local produce as possible a priority for you when on holiday? If that’s a yes to both, then grab your diary, check your annual leave hours and read on.
From big-name events such as the Wellington Food and Wine Festival and Taste Of Auckland, to speciality gatherings like the Chocolate and Coffee Show or the Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival, here are some of the absolute best (and tastiest!) food and wine festivals in New Zealand that you – and your stomach – will find impossible to resist in 2020.
Wellington Wine and Food Festival
Taste test a mouth-watering range of yummy goodies, gourmet produce and fancy cuisine at the Wellington Food and Wine Show. Held at Waitangi Park, the event also hosts stalls from many of the local wineries and breweries, so you can wash down your dumplings or burgers with a glass or two of Wellington’s finest. All-day live music adds to the festival atmosphere.
When: Saturday, 1 February 2020
Marlborough Food and Wine Festival
As New Zealand’s longest running foodie event, visitors can expect big things from the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival 2020. There are wines from more than 40 vineyards (including plenty of the region’s famous sauvignon blanc) and food stalls serving everything from Hungarian-style fried bread to fresh seafood. Held at the beautiful Brancott Heritage Estate, it’s a delicious day out.
When: Saturday, 8 February 2020
Hokita Wildfoods Festival
With lamb testicles, crocodile bites and possum kebabs on the menu, it’s safe to say the Hokita Wildfoods Festival on New Zealand’s west coast is not your average food event. An open mind and an adventurous palate is recommended if you plan on attending the one-day-only festival, which also hosts a hilarious ‘feral fashion’ competition.
When: Saturday, 7 March 2020
North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival
It may not be the biggest event on the culinary calendar, but there’s no denying the North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival boasts some of the best food in New Zealand’s South Island. Tuck into everything from bratwurst to banh mi, indulge in the local chardonnay, and listen to growers chat about sustainability. It’s super family-friendly too, with plenty to keep the kids busy.
When: Sunday, 8 March 2020
Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival
As the home of the green-lipped mussel, it’s little surprise that the town of Havelock, in the Marlborough Sounds, has played host to the hugely popular Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival for the past 15 years. If it comes from the ocean you’ll find it here, and the programme includes salmon filleting and oyster-opening masterclasses, plus industry displays.
When: Saturday, 14 March 2020
Bluff Oyster and Food Festival
The normally quiet seaside town of Bluff comes alive in May when the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival in New Zealand’s Southland region rolls in. The salty delicacies are the hero of the event, and the oyster shucking and eating competitions can’t be missed. If you’re not a fan of oysters though, don’t worry, as abalone, crayfish, scallops and whitebait are also on the menu.
When: Saturday, 23 May 2020
Visit Wellington On A Plate
If there was ever a time to visit the capital, it’s in August, when the city plays host to more than 100 lip-smacking culinary events. Visit Wellington On A Plate shines a light on the best food in Wellington, New Zealand, via workshops, masterclasses, degustation banquets and many other delicious gastronomic encounters. Be sure not to miss the crowning of Wellington’s top burger.
When: Saturday, 1 August to Monday, 31 August 2020
First Light Wine and Food Festival
Drink your way through Gisborne’s finest wineries when you attend the First Light Wine and Food Festival. With more than 14 local vineyards (including the renowned TW Wines and Matawhero Wines) coming to the party, there’s a tipple to suit everyone. Food is in abundance too, with picnic boxes available, regional goodies to sample and long lunches to attend.
When: Sunday, 25 October 2020
Night Noodle Markets
What was once a small pop-up food market has now transformed into one of New Zealand’s most popular events. Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland all take it in turns hosting this carnival of Asian cuisine, with bao buns, satay skewers and dumplings favourites among the huge crowds. And leave room for dessert, with plenty of sweet treats to savour.
When in Christchurch: Thursday, 6 February to Saturday, 15 February 2020
When in Wellington: Friday, 17 April to Sunday, 26 April 2020
When in Auckland: 2020 dates to be confirmed
Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C!)
The Food and Wine Classic is an event so good, it happens twice a year. As the premier food and wine festival in Hawke’s Bay, it provides a wonderful platform to showcase the east coast’s most outstanding producers, chefs, makers and purveyors, and – most importantly – the wonderful food and beverage options.
When: Twice yearly, summer and winter. Dates for 2020 to be confirmed.
Paniyiri Greek Food Festival
Opa! Prepare yourself for one big fat Greek feast when the Paniyiri Greek Food Festival hits Wellington. Tuck into all your favourite dishes (including souvlakis, baklava, pita bread and loukoumades), mingle with the local Hellenic community, and listen to some traditional Greek tunes. One sip of the potent Greek coffee and you might even be up for the Zorba!
When: Dates for 2020 to be announced.
Taste of Auckland
What do you get when you bring together Auckland’s best chefs, restaurateurs, winemakers, and brewers? The Taste Of Auckland festival, of course. Across four days, you’ll be able to eat your way through local delicacies and signature dishes, meet with local producers, watch cooking demos and enjoy an impressive line-up of musical acts.
When: Dates for 2020 to be confirmed.
Whitianga Scallop Festival
Celebrating all things small and that come in a shell, the Whitianga Scallop Festival is a favourite among seafood lovers. Take part in cooking classes by famous New Zealand chefs, check out the entertainment and relish the tasty array of samples from the line-up of stalls. Scallop creations on offer include scallop kebabs, scallop chowder, scallop pies and scallop sausages.
When: Dates for 2020 to be announced shortly.
Chocolate and Coffee Show
Chocolate and coffee: is there a more iconic duo? Held at Queens Wharf in Auckland, you can get your sugar and caffeine hit all in one place at the Chocolate and Coffee Show. With more than 80 exhibitors specialising in artisan treats, locally roasted beans and cakes, slices and bars, its almost a guarantee that you’ll leave this New Zealand food festival laden with take-home goodies.
When: Exact 2020 dates to be announced soon.
South Island Wine and Food Festival
Any event that brings together vintages from the five major South Island wine regions, plus scrumptious morsels from local producers, markets and restaurants is bound to be a success. A homage to all things locally grown and bottled, the South Island Wine and Food Festival is also renowned for the fascinating seminars, tastings and displays held in the cooking theatre.
When: Dates for 2020 to be confirmed.
Oyster Festival Matakana
Any festival with the motto “eat, shuck +be merry,” is destined to be a hit, and the Oyster Festival Matakana doesn’t disappoint. The stars of the show are sourced from the nearby Mahurangi region, and visitors can slurp their way through plump oysters whipped up in a variety of tantalising forms. Stay hydrated by sipping local beer, wine and ciders, and try your hand at shucking during the live demonstrations.
When: Dates for 2020 to be confirmed.
Is that your stomach rumbling already? Book flights to New Zealand with Webjet and start locking in those plans to savour the best flavours both islands have to offer. Plus make sure you have somewhere to sleep off your food coma by booking hotel accommodation, too.