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The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, Saturday March 9

The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, Saturday March 9, 2002

Sponsored by Monteith’s, TrustPower, Westland District Council

The only chance you have of getting accommodation at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival is if someone dies and leaves you a place in their will, festival organiser Mike Keenan says.

In its 13th year the Wildfoods festival has become so popular that this year organisers are expecting 20,000 people to flock to Hokitika (population 3000).

“People book in for the same time next year as soon as they leave because there are only 800 beds available in Hokitika,” Mike Keenan says.

During festival time Hokitikians wake up to campers and caravaners pitched and parked up on front lawns and on the beach begging for a power point and a turn with the garden hose.

“You just open up your house and tell them to close the door when they go,” Mike says. Hokitika beach also takes on the appearance of a canvas town from the 1860s gold rushes.

Festival organisers believe the festival has become a hardy annual because it goes with the Coasters any-excuse-for-a-party-attitude and the unique food, which any self-respecting Coaster wouldn’t normally eat in their own home. Some of it anyway.


This year there are ninety weird and wonderful stalls (with a waiting list of 13) including seven new food and drink stalls to chose from (e.g. the Crouching Grasshopper with hidden peanut sauce stall).

West Coast whitebait, mako, crayfish, paua, tuna, octopus, eel and salmon are on the menu in the fish line and in the meat department nearly all of Noah’s Ark is represented with Kangaroo, venison, pork, crocodile, horse, wild turkey and ostrich, to name but a few.
Oh, and don’t forget the legendary flesh of the huhu grub and the mountain oyster grown in that triangular woolly area of the sheep’s groin which comes this year with a special testicle sauce.

There is also a Maori hungi and Fijian kava stall, an earthworm sushi bar and a Westcargo (garden snail similar to the French escargot) stall. Organised by the Girl Guides, the Westcargo is hunted down in domestic gardens and taken to holding pens located at local veterinarians.

Those with delicate tummies will be pleased to know that the possum has had a very easy time of it this year and there will be no road kill on the menu, however Coasters do promise to, “cook it if it moves”.


The beer of course is Monteith’s, the variety that is still brewed on the West Coast and there are some very interesting wines to choose from – flower, broom, rose-petal and gorse which locals warn can put a parting in your hair and catches up with you very quickly.


Colin (Pine Tree) Meads, the legendary All Black-of-few-words will have a few words to say when he opens the festival and the main party entertainment kicks off on Friday night at the Beach Front with an outdoor concert.

The festival boasts thirty entertainers (including Frankie Stevens, the Navy band, Fiddler on the Hoof and Darby Tuhaka) two stages and a marquee that holds 4000 for a Friday night shin-dig where visitors can get down and do the hokey tokey with Hokitikians.

Early in the week on the Tuesday (March 5) Hokitika’s finest poets are performing at Trappers, there is a badminton exhibition by a former provincial badminton rep, Carla Malloy (Friday and Saturday), a Market Day (Saturday), the Westland Racing Club (Sunday) and a golf match at the Hokitika Golf club (Sunday)



Children under 5 free, under 16 $3, pre-purchased adult $12.50, gate sale adult $15, evening barn dance $10.


Mike Keenan or Lance Rae: (03 755, 8321) mobile (021 755 8026) fax (03 755 8026)
Accommodation: Visitor Information Centre: (03 755 6166)


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