Stephanie Holmes is the Herald's Deputy Travel Editor.

Tropical feast at Niue food fest

The annual KaiNiue festival promises guest chefs, cooking masterclasses and cultural community food events, writes Stephanie Holmes.

One of the Niuean specialities on offer at the annual KaiNiue Food & Wine Festival. Photo / Supplied
One of the Niuean specialities on offer at the annual KaiNiue Food & Wine Festival. Photo / Supplied

Perched on top of an undersea volcano, Niue is a Pacific Island paradise nestled somewhere between Tonga and the Cook Islands.

With rugged coastline, world-class diving and snorkelling, and less than four hours' flying time from New Zealand, it's definitely worth adding to your tropical trip bucket list.

And for foodies, there's even more reason to plan to escape the end of another Kiwi winter. The island's cuisine will be showcased at the third annual KaiNiue food festival for five days in September.

The festival promises guest chefs, cooking masterclasses and cultural community food events, including village feasts and a junior chef challenge for the local kids.

"We can't wait to show off Niue's Pacific flavours, our amazing island and unique culture," says Niue Tourism chief executive Felicity Bollen.

The inaugural KaiNiue was held in 2014, the brainchild of the Premier of Niue, Toke Talagi, who wanted to showcase Niuean food to the world, as well as expand the culinary repertoire of Niuean chefs with the help of guest chefs.

As well as a tourism boost, the event benefits local businesses, farmers, growers and fishermen, giving a boost to the island's economy.

This year's star line-up includes Yael Shochat, from award-winning Auckland establishment Ima's Cuisine, Villa Maria executive chef Rob Baxter, Lou and Ant Bentley from Akaroa Cooking School, and Wellington chef Martin Bosley, all of whom will be taking masterclasses and creating menus for the festival's gala dinner.

Wellington chef Martin Bosley will be one of the guest chefs at the KaiNiue festival. Photo / Supplied
Wellington chef Martin Bosley will be one of the guest chefs at the KaiNiue festival. Photo / Supplied

Bosley, who signed up after a personal invitation from Bollen, says his knowledge of Niue was previously very limited.

"I've never been there before. I actually had to Google where it was on the map," he says.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be going there, or have an occasion to go there.

"I'm a seafood chef so I'm looking forward to the abundance of seafood I've heard about. I believe their seafood is extraordinary."

And as well as being able to showcase Niuean produce in new ways, Bosley says he's looking forward to some time in a Pacific paradise unfamiliar to him.

"I'm very good at relaxing by the pool on island holidays. Hopefully there'll also be a chance to look at whales and do a bit of exploring," he says. "I like to immerse myself in the culture when I first get there. Island nations fascinate me, especially around food and culture. This is a really interesting opportunity to explore those sides of Niuean life."

CHECKLIST

Details: Our Pacific has two packages for the KaiNiue festival.

- NZ Herald

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