Is there anything better than a great food and wine festival? Gourmet food, quality wines and (in New Zealand’s case) picturesque settings. Just the mention of those things together brings a smile to your face.

Since we’re all about the smiles, we thought we’d pull together a list of the best food and wine festivals in NZ that you can add to your Kiwi bucket list!

1. WELLINGTON FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL

 

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Our nation’s capital is a hotspot for great eating and host to a number of great food and wine festivals during the year.

One of the most highly anticipated is the Wellington Food and Wine Festival. It’s an event that brings together the best local wine and food and combines it with awesome music in glorious weather.

Hosted in Waitangi Park, it’s a great open space with vendors selling their favourite dishes for the public to enjoy. Better still the menus are capped at a $12 maximum so you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank unless your appetite really gets the better of you!

When: February

Where: Wellington

Cost: $32.50

2. MARCHFEST

 

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MarchFest is a unique craft beer and music festival, held in sunny Nelson, at the top of the South Island. Known as the craft beer capital of New Zealand, its amazing traffic-free setting makes it an absolute cracker.

As beer festivals go, MarchFest is up there with the very best. The Nelson region is New Zealand’s sole hop growing area – and has more craft breweries per head of the population than anywhere else in the country.

Unlike ordinary beer festivals, all the beers available at MarchFest have been specially commissioned for the event. That means they’ve never previously been sampled by the public which makes the experience even more unique.

When: March

Where: Nelson

Cost: From $30 (super early bird adults)

3. HOKITIKA WILDFOODS FESTIVAL

 

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The Wildfoods Festival is one of New Zealand’s most popular food festivals and is a celebration of all things wild! Attendees enjoy an assortment of foods including marinated tuna, whitebait fritters, gourmet sausages, smoked salmon and more. There are also game meats and a traditional Maori hangi on the go too.

If you’re wild by nature you might also enjoy the huhu grubs, mountain oysters, duck heads, crocodile bites, fish eyes, scorpions, worms and pig ears.

This festival is about getting involved and trying something a bit different. It’s a bit like exploring the West Coast in some ways and the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival gives you a reason to do both at the same time!

When: March

Where: Hokitika

Cost: From $45 (adults), $15 (kids)

4. WAIRARAPA WINES HARVEST FESTIVAL

 

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In the beautiful Wairarapa on the banks of the Ruamahaka River, you’ll find a wonderfully secluded spot that hosts the Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival.

This idyllic vineyard location is only one of the great reasons for getting yourself a ticket. The food and drink are, of course, superb with award-winning vendors from the region showcasing their wares. This includes local favourites like Rabbit Pie, Goats Meat Brochette, Wairarapa Wild Pork & Pistachio Terrine and more!

The other great thing about the festival, which shouldn’t be underplayed, is the high-quality musical entertainment. It always attracts some great bands with past/present attendees including The Shenanigans, The Satisfactions and High Society.

When: March

Where: Wairarapa

Cost: $62.50

5. BLUFF OYSTER FESTIVAL

 

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To New Zealanders, the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival is about as Kiwi as it gets. It’s a massive event on the NZ food and wine festival calendar and one not to be missed. The reason is Bluff is the best place in New Zealand and some would argue, the world, to try oysters.

Bluff is a small seaport town, located in the deep south of the South Island, almost as far as you can go before you hit Antarctica. It’s fairly quiet for the most part, that is until the festival comes to town. Thousands of oyster fans converge to indulge in some good ol’ oyster shucking and eating. All of them go home satisfied.

It’s not just oysters on show mind you. Crayfish, paua, scallops, salmon, blue cod and whitebait can be consumed while you’re there. There are other food vendors as well, offering venison, muttonbird, lamb, beef and pork. With a great programme of entertainment, you’ve got all you need for a memorable event.

When: May (The 2020 event has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions but will be back in 2021)

Where: Bluff

Cost: From $35 (adults), $15 (kids)

6. FOOD AND WINE CLASSIC

 

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The Food and Wine Classic in Hawke’s Bay is a great one to prioritise for the pure gastronome celebrating the best of the very best.

With some amazing produce at their disposal and world-class vineyards in the region, it has a strong base for success and certainly delivers. The festival actually takes place twice during the year, in summer and winter, across four action-packed weekends. Over 60 events are organised at some fantastic venues offering great insight and delight for attendees.

People travel from far and wide for this one making a proper trip out of it which is easily done with the sights and attractions in the area.

When: June and November (The June Food and Wine Classic has been cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19) with a call on the November event to be made in due course)

Where: Hawke’s Bay

Cost: Varies for events

7. AUCKLAND RESTAURANT MONTH

 

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Auckland is a city that loves its food which is why the month of August is dedicated to Auckland Restaurant Month!

Auckland Restaurant Month is an epic festival that involves over 500 restaurants in and around Auckland. Diners are able to enjoy great set menu deals on a daily basis with amazing savings and discounts along the way.

It’s an awesome reason to get out and about and try restaurants you’ve never been before in an affordable way. Whether it’s Chinese, Italian, French, Japanese or Kiwi cuisine you’re after, you’ll be able to find it for an evening of delicious dishes. It’s a festival that makes you feel all warm inside during the cold of winter.

When: August

Where: Auckland

Cost: Varies for events

8. VISA WELLINGTON ON A PLATE

 

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Visa Wellington on a Plate (or WOAP as the event is affectionately known) is not your ordinary food festival. It is more like a food extravaganza that celebrates everything great about the region’s amazing food over two full weeks in August.

It’s a festival that involves the whole city with over 100+ special events and menus. There are loads of great deals to take advantage of and activities to participate in. These include (but are not limited to) a burger-off competition, a cocktail mixology showcase, beach parties, truffle hunting, family events and more.

It’s a great event to rival Auckland’s Restaurant Month and one that’ll give you a tough choice as to where you’ll want to be.

When: August

Where: Wellington

Cost: Varies for events

9. WHITIANGA SCALLOP FESTIVAL

 

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The Whitianga Scallop Festival is a great excuse to get yourself to the Coromandel Peninsula in September. Sure, it may be a bit colder than usual at that time of year but it is the perfect time of year to sample the seafood delights the town is famous for.

Like all great festivals, it grows bigger and better than the year before. Running for over 10 years now, they know their strengths and stick to them with pride.

The concept is a simple one. Scallops cooked in different ways by talented national chefs, restaurants and the local community. Chuck in some amazing entertainment, cooking classes and demonstrations and you have all the makings of a classic New Zealand festival.

When: September (The Whitianga Scallop Festival has been cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19 but will be back for 2021)

Where: Whitianga Harbour

Cost: From $50

10. IT! BAY OF ISLANDS FOOD FESTIVAL

 

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The Bay of Islands in the North Island is both picturesque and tranquil making it our type of place for a great festival.

The “It!” Bay of Islands Food Festival is a fantastic little event that is both interactive and fun. Attendees get to watch and/or enter competitions like ‘Kina Sucking’, ‘Oyster Shucking’ and ‘Pie Eating’. Besides that, you have all the great food and drink on offer from all the best vineyards, breweries and vendors in the region.

It’s not just about the local cuisine either. You’ll find international cuisines like German, Vietnamese, Mexican, Chinese, French and more! Makes for a great excuse to make that overdue trip up North.

When: October

Where: Bay of Islands

Cost: From $59 (adults), $16 (kids)

11. FIRST LIGHT FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL

 

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If you’re looking for an excuse to explore the beautiful East Coast of the North Island then highlight Labour Weekend in your calendar now.

On the Sunday of that weekend, the First Light Wine and Food Festival takes place in the beautiful city of Gisborne, the first place in the world to see the morning sun every day!

The festival itself is a premier event that brings together the region’s best wineries showcasing the 14 great varietals of the area. This has pretty much made it a must for wine connoisseurs all over the country.

As well as the great wine there is also delicious food options on offer and a fine programme of musical entertainment to complete the exquisite experience.

When: October

Where: Gisborne

Cost: From $45

12. TASTE OF AUCKLAND

 

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Taste of Auckland is another highly anticipated food and drink celebration across 3 awesome days in the City of Sails.

Taste is a massive event that includes the likes of gourmet restaurants to social kitchens. Many of the country’s top chefs take part as exhibitors, many also featuring in live demonstrations. As well as this you have things like interactive classes, beer trails and some great live music.

Hosted at the state of the art venue at Queens Wharf in Auckland, the event has specific session times, making it a well-organised affair too.

When: November (Taste Auckland has been cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 but is hoped to be returning for 2021)

Where: Auckland

Cost: From $30 (adults), $15 (kids)

13. TOAST MARTINBOROUGH

 

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New Zealand is not short of food and wine festivals but Toast Martinborough is definitely one of our favourites. Everything about the festival makes us happy and for us, it signals the start of the summer season.

Held in November, Martinborough is about an hour north of Wellington and for one day, it finds itself home to wine lovers from all across New Zealand. It’s an opportunity for the best wineries in the region to showcase their latest drops to an enthusiastic crowd.

In addition to the wine, you’ll have an enviable number of food stalls to choose from with treats made from beautiful local ingredients. There’ll also be no shortage of live music and entertainment to keep your toes tapping throughout.

A picturesque part of the country and a very well organised event to enjoy.

When: November

Where: Martinborough

Cost: From $90

A SLICE OF FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL HEAVEN

So there it is! Our list of 13 food and wine festivals in NZ that’ll bring nothing but joy to the taste buds. We hope you get the chance to attend some of these as the best way to experience our produce and hospitality!

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