Hokitika Wildfoods Festival

The South Island’s west coast has a reputation for its wild landscapes.

Glaciers plunge down to almost sea level; deep green rainforest cloaks towering mountains. Mighty Mitre Peak stands tall in Milford Sound, the expansive Tasman Sea sweeps from rocky shores and those monumental Southern Alps exude serious boldness.

Also on the west coast is Hokitika. It’s here, in this seaside town, where locals celebrate their remote and rugged surrounds in the form of questionable cuisine.

The Wildfoods Festival is described as just as much of a culinary experience as a visual one – and adventure is guaranteed. If you’re not prepared to push the limits of your palate, then it may not be worth adding this event to your calendar.   

What’s traditionally found deep in the heart of the bush and ocean is served up on a platter for the daring. On the menu might be huhu grubs, the white larvae endemic to New Zealand and found in dead wood. Next up you could be grazing on wild pork sausages, clams, whitebait fritters, and worm sushi. For dessert: chocolate-dipped chillis and wasp larvae ice cream. Order a glass of rhubarb champagne or gorse flower wine to wash it all down. 

New foods are introduced to the festival each year and there are more traditional options available for those with less adventurous taste buds.

While it’s probably entertaining enough to watch festivalgoers devour crickets and grasshoppers, live music, comedy and dance inject even more colour.  

Reported for our AA Directions Autumn 2021 issue

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