Plan a delicious weekend away with these exciting food, wine and beer events happening across New Zealand in 2020, writes Johanna Thornton
Wallingford Truffle Weekends in Hawke's Bay, June 19-21 and 26-28
Luxury retreat Wallingford Homestead in Central Hawke's Bay offers memorable weekend stays and unique food experiences. One of New Zealand's oldest homesteads, Wallingford is set on 890ha with a 1700 French oak trufflere (truffle plantation) in its back yard, ideal for an immersive and restorative weekend of dining, foraging, and truffle hunting. Its restaurant is run by award-winning chef and co-owner Chris Stockdale with a menu celebrating the seasonal produce found on the Wallingford surrounds - truffles, herbs, vegetables and Angus beef, to name a few. The truffle weekend package includes accommodation, fabulous food and wine, and a truffle hunt and masterclass where you can sample the results (truffle pasta, hemp seed sourdough and tonka bean icecream), or just book in for Friday night's degustation dinner or Sunday's truffle hunt and cooking masterclass.
Seriously Good Food Show in Mount Maunganui, Sep 5-6
The Seriously Good Food Show at Tauranga's Trustpower Arena Baypark brings together artisanal food and beverage makers from all over New Zealand for a weekend celebration of food, craft beer and New Zealand wine and liquor. Vendors are yet to be confirmed but visitors can expect to see Food Show favourites Rik's Belgium Truffles; Kapiti Artisan Bakehouse; and Olives on the Hill, as well as new exhibitors The Remarkable Chocolate Co; Uncle Dunkle's Chilli Sauces and The Red Kitchen. The Landing Food Truck Hub will feature again in 2020, and the live cooking theatre lineup is in the works. Managing director of Bay Events Dana McCurdy says she's looking forward to bringing back the festival for its eighth year. "We love bringing together regional and national food businesses and we encourage the people of Tauranga to support them after what has been a deeply challenging time."
Wellington on A Plate, Oct 1-31
This long-running annual festival is a highlight of the food calendar that sets the city alive with events, collabs, special menus and custom cocktails, food-themed exhibitions and "everything in between" for a whole month. The festival will run from October 1-31 with about 150 still-to-be confirmed events and hundreds of specially created dishes that highlight the region's ingredients, producers and suppliers. Like last year's festival, the programme will centre around Dine Wellington (Oct 1-11), which sees restaurants create special festival menus to tempt diners and compete for the best main course of the festival, a high honour. Burger Wellington runs from Oct 12-31, presented by Garage Project, which similarly sees eateries compete to create the ultimate burger with inventive flavour combinations. The remaining festival events will be confirmed on August 24 when the festival programme launches online, with pre-sale tickets available from August 31. Festival director Sarah Meikle says in the absence of international chefs, the focus will rightly be on community collaboration and celebrating Wellington's culinary talent, of which there is plenty.
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First Light Wine & Food in Gisborne, October 25
Kicking off the start of the summer festival season is Gisborne's pre-eminent wine event, the First Light Wine & Food Festival. Held on the Sunday of Labour Weekend (October 25) the event opens the gates to local wineries, TW Wines, Matawhero Wines and Bridge Estate, for a day of live music, great wines and delicious food. While the beautiful Tairawhiti region is known for its chardonnay, the festival shines a light on Gisborne's 14 other varietals, including rose, merlot, alberino, chenin blanc, pinot gris, gewurztraminer, malbec and sauvignon blanc. Local food outlets Smokehouse Cuisine, Flagship Cafe and Reka Cuisine will be serving snacks at each vineyard. The event includes a bus service for transport between vineyards, making it easy to soak in the lush surroundings.
firstlightwineandfood.co.nz; tickets on eventfinda.co.nz
Christchurch Vegan Expo, November 8
Organisers call it "the Big Day Out of vegan food festivals", with food, music and cooking demos all under one roof for a fun and inspiring look at plant-based living. Whereas the Big Day Out music festival had its last hurrah in 2014, the Vegan Expo has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2007 as the popularity of plant-based food in New Zealand continues to increase. Visitors can expect to sample plant-based food, watch cooking demos, listen to talks, discover vegan living tips, and shop cruelty-free products. The Christchurch Vegan Expo will be held at the University of Canterbury on Sunday, November 8, 2020, with the Kapiti equivalent planned for 2021.
Toast Martinborough, November 15
Centred around the boutique wine village of Martinborough in South Wairarapa, Toast Martinborough brings together a collection of the country's premiere vineyards including Te Ata Rangi, Palliser Estate and Escarpment (subject to change) for a day of wine, food and music on Sunday, November 15. Toast is a unique one-day multi-site event, with 8-10 participating vineyards (still to be confirmed) opening their cellar doors. Ticket holders can select which vineyards they'd like to tour (or attempt to fit them all in), and take a shuttle or walk between venues. It's advisable to book accommodation early and make a weekend of it, as the town fills up quickly.
Beervana in Wellington, November 20-21
Beer lovers rejoice - Beervana is back for 2020. One of New Zealand's biggest and most anticipated annual celebrations of craft beer, Beervana is held over two days at Sky Stadium in Wellington. Last year there were 71 international and local breweries exhibiting, an exciting mix that saw the festival win Wellington Event of the Year in the annual SOBA awards. Things will be a little different this year with the absence of international breweries, but 60-65 local breweries are more than capable of doing the heavy lifting, showcasing hundreds of craft beers to around 16,000 visitors. Beervana has brews to excite all tastes, from beer aficionados to the beer-curious with an impressive range of spectacular beer, food and entertainment.
Fiordland Seafood Adventure, December 7-10
This unique food experience offers access to one of New Zealand's most remote fiords and its bountiful kaimoana. Explore Fiordland's Dusky Sound aboard 27m expedition vessel Flightless over four days, gathering fresh seafood, and learning how to treat it, prepare it and cook it respectfully - and deliciously. Organised by adventure charter boat company Pure Salt, the trip centres around an exploration of seafood, but there's also time for kayaking, scuba diving, fishing, paddle boarding, free diving, shore excursions, and relaxing in the hot tub. All meals are provided and helicopter flights from Te Anau, south of Queenstown, are included. Pure Salt is still finalising the details, but past excursions have seen well-known chefs Fleur Sullivan and Michael Van De Elzen join the tour to guide and cook with attendees, as well as teachers and students from Otago Polytechnic.
Tickets on eventfinda.co.nz