Hokitika’s annual Wildfoods Festival is a celebration of the West Coast’s unique wild food and lifestyle, accompanied by premier entertainment. Visitors can sample a wide array of local natural foods, ranging from some of the weirdest and most exotic delicacies to fabulous gourmet specialties. What’s traditionally found in the heart of the bush and deep in the ocean is served up with a fork for the daring. Apart from hunting the mountains for pigs, deer, thar and chamois and fishing the sea, keen stallholders have not left many stones unturned in their efforts to explore edible possibilities. Even garden weeds have been discovered as herbs useful in festival salads and beverages.
The festival first came into fruition in 1990 when Hokitika local, Claire Bryant, instigated the very first celebration of local wild foods. Her wine cellar was very well stocked with a home brew of West Coast gorse flower wine and people were clamouring for a taste of her rose petal brew. The first event also coincided with the 125th anniversary celebration of the birth of Hokitika in March 1990. Locals and the rest of New Zealand were captured by the magic of the idea – a celebration of Hokitika and the wild foods of the West Coast.
Offering tunes for all tastes, entertainment is comprised of a top line-up of New Zealand musicians playing the main stage.
Those with a creative flair can enter Feral Fashion – a wearable arts style competition modelled on the racing circuits Fashion in the Field. Contestants get creative, forage in their surroundings, and create a wild alter ego to wear to the festival.
If children are not interested in sampling huhu grubs, the Kids Corner will keep them occupied with face painting, a massive inflatable pirate ship, a candy shop and more.