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Snail Pilgrimage in Progress

Snail Pilgrimage in Progress
December 4, 2003

Motorists have been asked to observe extreme caution. Snails have left their homes and are on the road beginning their slow annual plod toward Hokitika to make sure they arrive in time for next year’s Hokitika Wildfoods festival.

Which came first- Fear Factor or the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival? And the answer is the Wildfoods Festival which will, on March 13, 2004 been up and running for fifteen years.

And for dare devil gormandisers who think they’ve been there, done that and swallowed it all, there are even more outrageous and delicious wild foods on the stallholder’s menu to challenge the taste buds of the most seasoned festival punter.

You may have tried their trotters but have you tried their ears? This year pig’s ears are on offer as are hare’s testicles (marinated) with bull semen shots and Monteith’s beer to wash it down with.

For the less adventuress there’s rabbit pate, pickled seaweed, chicken feet and dandelion delight, chicken livers hearts and gizzards and delicious swordfish steaks.

No food is too big or small to get into the stallholders’ tent and this year the humble cricket has crawled it’s way on to the plate to join the wise grasshopper and bug larvae.

Seafood lovers will be delighted to hear that there is raw fish, turbot, whitebait sandwiches, deep fried and smoked eel, sushi, prawns & sangria, scallops & scampi, mussels, oysters both mountain and water, crayfish, paua patties and that film star of the seafood world the gorgeous pink salmon.

No Wildfoods Festival would be complete without the dreaded hu hu grub but if it’s basic tucker you’re after fear not, there are bangers of all description to still the churning gut.

This year festival organisers have hired completely new acts for the entertainment programme and the range is wide – country, Latin, jazz, Celtic rock, Irish, pop rock, sixties and seventies rock and African marimba.

The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival has become so famous worldwide that overseas devotees are e-mailing the festival office offering to arrive early and help out free of charge. A French couple who working in the hospitality industry as chef and waitress have offered to fly in and cook for free and volunteers from down on the Ice have put their frozen hands up to make Hokitika a happening thing next year.

And it’s not just word and taste of mouth that has put tiny wee Hokitika (population 3300) on the map. In September 2003 the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival won two major New Zealand Tourism Awards with the judges citing the savvy branding and the promotion of West Coast’s unique point of difference as the festival’s winning factors.

As part of the ongoing commitment to profile this tourism award, New Zealand Tourism Awards have designed a set of postcards featuring the world famous Hokitika Wildfoods Festivals. They have appeared in Holiday magazine and are on sale in Whitcoulls stores nationwide to spread the Festival Fever.

Tickets for the festival and dance are limited to 18,000 and are now on sale at Postie Plus outlets; Westland District Council; via the website www.wildfoods.co.nz and the Hokitika Visitors Information Centre (03 755 6166) hkkvin@xtra.co.nz.

Make a day of it on March 13 by travelling from Christchurch to Hokitika return by train and coach via the stunning Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps see www.railtoursnz.com.



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