A competition in which cafes and eateries try to outdo each other to create the most delicious or decadent drinks is about to bring a wave of chocolate dipped bananas, jelly slushies and lemon meringue pies onto Lower Hutt.
Milkshakes sprinkled with popcorn and drinks topped with pieces of pavlova are among the mouth-watering offerings in the Cool As Challenge, which runs from Thursday until the end of January.
Run by Hutt City Council, the challenge - just like the Sweet As hot chocolate challenge run in winter - is a way to get more people visiting hospitality businesses in the Hutt.
But each year some of the more competitive businesses will go above and beyond to make their drinks bigger and better than anyone else.
Owner of Buzz Cafe Michael Gray said there could be some friendly rivalry between his cafe and Atrium, both of which are known for going big on their offerings.
At Buzz, cafe manager Jae Stuthridge came up with the idea for the Sherbet Jelly Slushie, topped with icecream in a cone, wafer sticks, whipped cream, a lollipop, and a dusting of homemade sherbet.
She hadn't seen any other cafes serve up a slushie for the challenge in previous years, and added a twist by blending jelly and sherbet syrup into the drink.
Gray said when picking what type of drink to make for the challenges, "you just hope you're the first".
"Sometimes some of the others come up with ideas and you think 'how did they think of that?"
The difficult part was creating something that would draw customers in, but wasn't so hard to make that it interfered with the cafe's core business.
When they ended up making "thousands" of the drinks over the three weeks of the challenge, it could get out of hand quickly.
Over at Atrium, head chef and co-owner Anja Hajdarevic was searching for a way to inspire nostalgia in customers.
She created the Not My Circus - a peanut butter and banana milkshake topped with a frozen chocolate-dipped banana, Neapolitan icecream in a waffle cone, whipped cream and peanuts.
"You know when you're a kid, banana splits are the favourite thing you could possibly get. I just wanted to focus on making people happy with the drink, but then also make some sort of colossal drink."
She liked to provide a dessert or meal, rather than just a drink, to "just go a step further than most people".
Such events were "necessary for hospitality" and raised the profile of many businesses.
In Queensgate Mall, Hudsons cafe will be serving the Nutella Madness Milkshake, a Nutella shake blended with icecream and topped with Hershey's Kisses, Ferrero Rocher, and chocolate brownie.
Owner Khushboo Badiyani opened the cafe less than a year ago just weeks before New Zealand was plunged into lockdown.
Her first foray into hospitality after working as an auditor, Badiyani managed to pull the business through and will soon celebrate one year.
This will be the first time she has participated in any of the drinks challenges, and is looking forward to raising her cafe's profile.
She and several members of her team came up with the idea for the drink, which she said contained all the "people pleasers".
Another outside-the-box offerings this year include the Crooked Elm's Ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie, an alcoholic lemon drink topped with a burnished Swiss meringue and a cookie, with a salted limoncello truffle dipped in dark chocolate.
There is also Cutler's Gastropub's drinkable pavlova, and Fix Federation's cinnamon doughnut in a cup milkshake.
This will be the sixth year the Cool As Challenge has run, with 14 businesses taking part.
Customers can vote for their favourite drink by QR code located in each cafe or on the Cool As Challenge Summer Refresher's Facebook and Instagram pages.