Imagine sitting in a beautiful outdoor setting, sipping a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wine and enjoying the freshest seafood you’ve ever had. Sounds great, right?
Well, New Zealand can make that dream a reality, thanks to a plethora of seafood festivals throughout the country and right the way through the year. Oysters, mussels, crayfish and more are always on offer in some of the most beautiful parts of the country.
Coromandel Seafood Festival - 6 May, 2017
First on the calendar is the Coromandel Seafood Festival on 6 May. With its pristine waters, the Coromandel Harbour is renowned for its mussel and oyster farms, as well as being a great place to haul out your line and catch some fish. The festival held in Coromandel Town is a favourite with locals and visitors for its down to earth and get involved approach. The programme for 2017 will include a fishing competition, oyster and mussel shucking, food demonstrations, live local bands, fish filleting demonstrations, and local cafés and restaurants showcasing all kinds of seafood.
Bluff Oyster & Food Festival - 20 May, 2017
If you can't make it on the 6 May, the Bluff Oyster & Food Festival is a couple of weeks later on 20 May, and another excellent choice because there can't be a more perfect destination than Bluff to sample the famous Bluff oysters.
The salty seaside township of Bluff is home to this festive winter event brought to you by the locals of Bluff with a uniquely southern flavour. Complementing the sumptuous Bluff Oyster is a variety of seafoods including crayfish, paua (abalone), scallops, salmon, blue cod and whitebait in abundance. Grab your hat, scarf and a winter coat for an event filled day of live music, along with oyster shucking and eating competitions.
The Whitianga Scallop Festival - 16 September, 2017
Once you've had a taste of oysters, it's time to try scallops in The Coromandel. One of New Zealand’s most popular seafood events, the Whitianga Scallop Festival will see 60 food stalls turning out mouth-watering dishes. Entertainment from famous New Zealand performers and seafood cooking demonstrations by iconic NZ chefs help round out the exceptional scallop celebration.
Port Chalmers Seafood Festival - 30 September, 2017
A few weeks later, it's the turn of the Port Chalmers Seafood Festival. Set on the shores of Otago Harbour, this festival is renowned for showing off local seafood cuisine in a pretty seaside town that welcomes over 90 cruise ships every summer.
The festival is run by local volunteers who work together to create a professional festival that is fun for the whole family. Its roots are in the community it serves and in 2015 the festival returned over NZ$20,000 to West Harbour and wider Dunedin community groups.
Here you'll find legendary southern clams, crayfish, fresh fish, New Zealand green lipped mussels, whitebait, craft beer, Central Otago wine, fish touch tanks, kids games and story time, live local music, cooking demonstrations, free buses… the list goes on.
Seafest Kaikoura - October 7, 2017
No list of New Zealand seafood festivals would be complete without Seafest Kaikoura - a celebration of life by the sea with great entertainment, food and beverages and good company.
Kaikoura's renowned as a marine wildlife destination - whales, seals, dolphins, albatross to name a few who make their homes around the spectacular rocky seashore - but a 7.8 earthquake in November gave the local community an extra rocky time. However, this is a community with spirit and the seafood is the best you've ever had (especially the famed Kaikoura crayfish) and it's still the best marine wildlife viewing in New Zealand. In addition, post-earthquake there's a magnificent new coastline to explore and new sandy surf beach right in town, so put on your sea-going gear and get involved.
Auckland Seafood Festival - TBC early 2018
After taking a break in 2017, the Auckland Seafood Festival will be back in 2018 – and promises to make up for a year off. The festival has been held for the past 10 years on Auckland’s waterfront over the three-day Auckland Anniversary weekend (TBC late January).
Havelock Mussel & Seafood Festival - March 2018
Havelock, in the Marlborough Sounds, is 'the home' of the New Zealand green lipped mussel. Held each March, the Havelock Mussel & Seafood Festival celebrates with live entertainment, delicious food, fine local beer and wine, and, of course, the finest seafood taking centre stage. It's always a cracker day out for the whole family at the Havelock Domain. Watch out for cooking demonstrations, market stalls, industry displays, music and last year the festival had its first ever ‘beer university’.