Thousands came to the Horowhenua on Saturday to see, taste and experience a slice of the district.

At eight locations around the district, 10 food producers - Tendertips Asparagus, RJ's Licorice, Levin Eel Trading, Turk's Poultry, Country Treats, Woodhaven Gardens, Ohau Wines, Genoese Pesto, Takapu Farm and Woody's Free Range Farm - provided an array of different guided tours, tastings and samples, produce to buy, food trucks and entertainment.

Leanne Bird from Palmerston North and her two friends had already been to six locations when Horowhenua Chronicle caught up with them enjoying some wine and Foxton Fizz at Ohau Wines vineyard.

Ms Bird said it had been an "awesome" morning so far.


"Our only disappointment was there was no pesto for sale. This [Trail] has been brilliant; I hope they do it again next year."

Takapu Farm owner David Keeling said he was sceptical at first, thinking the morning's wet weather would put people off coming out. By mid-afternoon more than 80 people had checked out the family-run dairy and beef farm.

Genoese Pesto clocked up more than 1700 visitors eager to taste the pesto and try freeze dried fruit and chestnut flour produced by Country Treats.

Cultural performances by workers at Woodhaven Gardens entertained while visitors sampled fresh vegetables or dishes from two foodtrucks while children enjoyed tractor and trailer rides around the gardens.

People could get up close with live eels at Levin Eel Trading, which quickly sold out of its pate and smoked eel, or could indulge their sweet tooth at RJ's Licorice.

Wine tastings and barbecue chicken from Turk's Poultry at Ohau Wines was set against the backdrop of the vineyards and live music.

Tours of Tendertips Asparagus packhouse included asparagus treats whipped up by Foxton Beach's Little White Rabbit and at Woody's Free Range Farm, visitors could explore the workings of the Heritage pig farm and try some tasty bacon butties.

Event co-ordinator and organiser Catherine Lewis said they were "blown away" by the enthusiasm and numbers of visitors.

"We have had the most amazing feedback. Visitors have been amazed by local producers' effort and commitment to producing such high-quality food. We are glad to have instilled pride in the community of the amazing place we live, the incredible people that live here, and the beautiful food and wine we produce," she said.

They planned to grow the Horowhenua Taste Trail into an annual event.

"This is just the beginning of recognising Horowhenua as a district of food excellence".

The Horowhenua Taste Trail was launched at Te Takere, Friday night, by Otaki MP Nathan Guy.

More than 100 guests, including Mayor Michael Feyen and councillors, heard nine producers tell the story behind their successful businesses, and had a sneak 'taste' preview of local food showcased by Ruth Pretty Catering with help from Horowhenua College catering students.

Mr Guy acknowledged everyone involved, including the Lewis family, for bringing about "this wonderful initiative," put together in just over two months.

"Agriculture and horticulture is a huge part of what drives our economy in Horowhenua."

Horowhenua Taste Trail organisers thanked Horowhenua District Council for its support.