A trail of creative cold drinks will be luring people into Lower Hutt's central city next week, with everything from freak shakes to colour-changing cocktails available to try.
Hutt City Council is running the "Cool As" Summer Refresher Drink Challenge for the fourth year as a novel way of helping people discover the CBD and its hospitality scene.
Fifteen cafes, restaurants, bars and one bakery in Lower Hutt will create their own limited edition signature summer drinks, which customers can order between January 14 and February 3, then rank.
The contenders include everything from smoothies and old fashioned lemonade to a vegan blue jelly drink complete with edible sea creatures - made from vegan jellybeans.
Shine Cafe owner Sue Read created the drink, named "Wish I Was There", inspired by a recent holiday to Rarotonga.
"I like creating a memory with food," said Read.
She likes "community" and is keen on the Cool As challenge because it helps create a sense of community, and brings new people into the cafe.
Crooked Elm manager Cristal Gray said this would be the first time the newly opened pub would be involved in the challenge, and they were hoping it would bring in new customers.
"This one will be quite good for us, just to get our name out there and to [let people] know that we're around. We're pretty excited for that, and to see new faces."
The Crooked Elm's drink, the Capricious Capricorn, is a bright blue cocktail that changes to indigo when mixed. A mocktail option is also available.
The challenge was started off the back of the Sweet As challenge, in which Hutt cafes create signature hot chocolates for customers to taste and rank over three weeks in winter.
Hutt City Council's CBD development manager Cyndi Christensen said there has not only been a jump in cafes wanting to participate in the challenge, but the number of summer refresher drinks consumed continues to rise every year.
"The hospitality business can be very competitive so it's wonderful to see our local cafes banding together as a collective in this challenge," she said.
"Last year there was also a 400 per cent increase in votes – from 277 in 2017 to 1135 in 2018 - which shows people are really taking advantage of the signature drinks on offer.
"It's wonderful for the Hutt City because it attracts visitors from outside the region and also encourages locals to try out new cafes that they otherwise wouldn't have usually frequented."
A number of cafes were going for healthy options this year, including Chai Coffee, which offers a peanut butter chocolate shake which can be made gluten-free, vegan, dairy free, and low carb.
Owner Darshika Patel said she was a fitness lover who had "always struggled to find diet-adaptable foods" when out and about.
"Listening to my customers I've decided to bring in the shakes that I know I enjoy and can potentially help my customers opt for better choices," she said.
Other cafes have created drinks to reflect different cultures, such as a pomegranate mojito on offer from Giuseppe's, named Giuseppe's Italian Summer.
"[It's] one of the oldest fruits in the Mediterranean," Christensen said.
There is no restriction on entries for the challenge – they just need to be cold and refreshing.