August is here, along with one of the brightest spots on the Wellington hospitality calendar.
Wellingtonians and visitors have a month of culinary delight ahead, with one of New Zealand's biggest food and drink festivals kicking off today.
Visa Wellington on a Plate will run throughout August, with hundreds of entries coming from food businesses in the capital, as well as the Wairarapa, Kāpiti and Hutt City regions.
Visa Wellington on a Plate festival director Sarah Meikle said the industry had been gearing up for the festival all year.
"Now that August is here the industry are really excited – the offering and programme we have this year is really exciting," she said.
"And now it's here they just want to get it going and get as many meals served as they possibly can and make the most of what is always a fantastic month for hospitality in Wellington."
Since Visa Wellington on a Plate began over a decade ago, the month of August has become one of the brightest spots on the capital's hospitality calendar.
"Before we started Visa Wellington on a Plate – a couple of years ago now – August was always the quietest month of the year and now it's the second-busiest behind Christmas," Meikle said.
"We are expecting this August will be no different and that hospo will be jam-packed and busy, and it'll give them a boost that they need at the end of winter."
Focusing on the unsettling nature of last year and the inability to travel overseas, the festival is running with the theme "Out of Place" and will feature cuisines and dishes from around the world.
Meikle suggested keen foodies take advantage of an online planner on the WOAP website or pick up a copy of the guide to make sure they ticked off all their favourite spots.
Co-owner of Capitol restaurant Kate Hutchinson had been involved with the food and drink festival since the very beginning.
"Wellington on a Plate's been going for years and years, and in the early days it was very little – I think there were about 40 businesses involved," Hutchinson said.
"And it was just about bringing some business into Wellington during the winter, very much with a focus on who our local producers were.
"We've been involved in it every year and it's just got bigger and bigger - I think it's one of the biggest festivals in the Southern Hemisphere now."
Hutchinson said they had delved into their restaurant's history for this year's festival and their creative menu was inspired by the Capitol's roots in Wellington.
"The theme of the festival is history and our restaurant is based in the MC theatre on the site of an old butcher," she said.
"There were quite a lot of butchers in Wellington in the early days so we just started researching what the culture was when people moved to New Zealand.
"It was a bit of a meat lover's paradise - suddenly everyone could afford to eat meat, which hadn't been the case in the UK."
As part of their Dine menu they had created an "It's a meat lover's paradise" dish - Awatoru wild venison and Bluff oyster pastry-top pie, served with puréed kūmara and watercress.
They were also teaming up with Sam Neill's Two Paddocks for two events called "Eat What You Watch" – screenings of their favourite film "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" at the Embassy theatre on August 16 and 23.
Patrons would then return to Capitol for kai, complete with wilderness delicacies such as rabbit, wild boar and eel, accompanied by Two Paddocks wine.
Visa Wellington on a Plate runs throughout the month of August.
Dine Wellington will run until August 15, with Burger Wellington beginning on August 13 and the festival's cocktail competition running throughout.
A full programme is available through the Visa Wellington on a Plate website.