The popular programme moves beyond Auckland for next year's series.
The MasterChef juggernaut is rolling again - filming of the latest Kiwi series of the hit TV One cooking show is in full swing around the provinces.
That's a significant shift for the third series, due on TV screens early next year, which in the past has been restricted to Auckland locations.
The news of the move into the regions comes in the same week as the announcement that the show's sister programme, MasterChef Australia, is to bump Coronation Street from the 7.30pm slot to 5.30pm.
The move set off a slew of protests, but TVNZ spokeswoman Georgie Hills said no decision had been made on whether the time-switch would be permanent. "We want to wait and see how this works out before we make a call."
The Herald on Sunday has tracked Coro St's viewing figures, which appear to have been bouncing back this year.
Meanwhile, the final nine contestants in the Kiwi version of MasterChef visited Hawke's Bay for a challenge involving local produce and a masterclass with a local chef. Judges Simon Gault, Josh Emett and Ray McVinnie were there to critique the contestants' cooking.
Gault said he was excited about returning to Hawke's Bay after filming there for his own series, Chef on a Mission.
The contestants were taken to the Hawke's Bay Farmers' Market and given 30 minutes to buy their ingredients. They then had an hour to cook a signature dish using local lamb on a barbecue on the deck at Elephant Hill Winery overlooking the region's rolling hills.
"There were some amazing dishes produced. Everyone is on fire," Gault said.
McVinnie said the quality of contestants was higher than past seasons. "They have had the advantage of looking at the shows and learning what we want. It is very hard to send anyone home because they are all doing exceptionally well. The level of improvement with every challenge is amazing," he said.
One of the contestants, who cannot yet be named, said he loved cooking in Hawke's Bay.
"What a place to be. It really is the fruit bowl of New Zealand," he said.
The companion show, MasterChef Masterclass, will also return to screens early next year.
Filming will turn next to Huka Lodge near Taupo and continue until the end of October. Preliminary auditions were in Timaru, Wellington and Auckland during July and August.
The series has been expanded from 13 to 17 episodes, and contestants are staying at the same North Shore mansion as in previous series.By Joanne Carroll Email Joanne