Small town New Zealand does wonderful and whacky to keep up our winter spirits.

1. Gamebird Food Festival

Until July 27

Fish and Game New Zealand encourage hunting mates and their long suffering "duck widows" (their name, not ours) to introduce non-hunters to the delights of game bird dishes. Now into its eighth year, the festival pairs hunters and restaurants together for amazing food from the day's hunt - mallard duck, paradise duck, black swan, pheasant and quail. Participants are in Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga and around the country.

2. Coromandel Illume Festival of Light
Coromandel Town, July 4 - 12


For nine nights in July Coromandel Town is lit up - massive projections turn the town's walls into large colourful screens. Don't miss the black light tunnel (fluoro face paint essential) and the Driving Creek railway night tours.

3. Whitianga Scallop Festival
The Esplanade, Whitianga, September 6. 0800 BUY TIX (289 849).

Not whacky, just wonderful. Our favourite seafood event shows more than 60 stands turning out mouthwatering variations on scallops (try 'em all).

Entertainment, cooking demos from Josh, Ray and Julie. Ten years old and just getting better.

4. The New Zealand Burlesque Festival
Palmerston North, October 9 - 11

Who knew Palmy had it in her, hosting three days of, of all things, burlesque, with three power-packed shows, workshops for the curious and the experienced, and an expo. Headliners include Miss Exotic World, the Golden Garter awards. Categories include best boobs, best derriere, favourite pasties, Show Floozie and Most Likely to Accept Someone Else's Award. Don't miss it.