Biting into the weird and wonderful Wildfoods Festival, Hokitika

10 December 2015

Category: Wine & dine

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How would you feel about tucking into a deep-fried possum? Perhaps a huhu beetle grub or over-easy seagull egg may take your fancy? If so, it's well worth your while paying a visit to the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, held on the first Saturday in March in the eponymous South Island town. The festival has been GOING for 25 years and serves up hundreds of weird and wonderful treats, according to Tourism New Zealand. What's more, you can pay a visit with KiwiRail Scenic when it all takes off.

(Note quite) haute cuisine in Hokitika

The very first Wildfoods Festival was held way back in 1990, having been started by Hokitika's very own Claire Bryant, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the town's founding. Though initially small in scale, Wildfoods rapidly grew in popularity, capturing the imagination firstly of the West Coast, then the rest of New Zealand. Just 1,800 hungry people attended the inaugural Festival, but today, that figure has rocketed to 10,000 - at one year, a whopping 22,500 people turned up!

Each year, more and more insane but innovative foods are added to the menu, meaning that there is little chance of you going hungry, and you're certain to try something that has never passed your lips before. Crocodile bites, fried grasshoppers and chicken feet  are all par for the course at the Wildfoods Festival - will you try a stallion protein shot?

The Festival isn't just about food, though, as there is a raft of entertainment going on throughout. Local bands, comedians and dancers will take to the stage to keep you smiling all day. Additionally, certain stallholders will display their talents with a range of gastronomic demonstrations for intrigued revellers, so you can cook up the same storm from the comfort of your own kitchen, if you dare!

The hacienda of Hokitika, via NZ rail

There's no better way to visit Hokitika than by jumping onboard KiwiRail Scenic's TranzAlpine service that runs between Christchurch and Greymouth. Found on the fringes of the wild West Coast, Hokitika was built on a bed of glittering gold during the mid-19th century, attracting those looking to make their fortune from all corners of the world. 

Today, the gold has largely gone, but Hokitika remains a hotbed of activity, found approximately half-an-hour's drive from the nearby town of Greymouth. Whether you're heading on down to dine on a spider or just want to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Wildfoods Festival, Hokitika is sure to leave you wanting more!