Autumn (March, April, May)
It’s harvest time in the vineyards and orchards and in backyards all over the country the feijoa trees are laden. Down in Bluff, at the bottom of the South Island, it’s the time to eat the world's best oysters.
Hokitika Wildfoods Festival (March)
One for the intrepid eater, there’s weird and wild fare to try at this Hokitika festival: beetles, mountain oysters, and the infamous stallion shakes. Go on, have a chocolate-covered huhu grub – you only live once.
Great Kiwi Beer Festival (March)
Cheers! Christchurch hosts New Zealand’s hippest hop festival showcasing the vibrant craft beer scene, with suitably beery food and groovy tunes.
Waiheke Vintage Festival (April)
Just a ferry ride from Auckland, gorgeous Waiheke Island entices wine and food fans for two weekends of food, wine and music hosted by a clutch of the island’s boutique wineries.
Bluff Oyster Festival (May)
Bluff oysters grow slowly in the pristine cold waters of the Fouveaux Strait to big, briny deliciousness. If you tire of oysters there’s an abundance of other seafood and local specialities including mutton bird, and great southern ales.
Winter (June, July, August)
Wellington woos visitors in winter with a swag of festivals. While you’re there, why not check out the windy city’s cafe scene where connoisseurs swoon over cold-drip, pour-over or syphon coffee. If you’re hanging with the snow bunnies for the ski season it’s a cool time to check out the boutique breweries’ rich malty winter ales at a local festival, or head to the pub, order a pint and cheer on the All Blacks.
SOBA Winter Ale Festival (June)
Wellington taps the brew masters’ wintery ales at this celebration of all things beer.
Cadbury Chocolate Carnival (July)
Two things you may not know about Dunedin: its Cadbury factory makes jaffas (small candy-covered chocolate balls); it has the steepest street in the world. You know where this is headed. In winter a week-long carnival of chocolate culminates with 30,000 jaffas hurtling down Baldwin Street.
Wellington on a Plate (August)
Two weeks of one-off events, pop-ups, walks, tours and festival-special restaurant menus in Wellington.
Once again Wellington releases your inner beer geek at New Zealand’s biggest craft beer get-together.
Spring (September, October, November)
As the weather warms up farmers markets are revitalised with spring greens and tender asparagus. On the west coast of the South Island it’s whitebait season. Don't miss the whitebait fritters, tiny translucent fish are whisked with eggs then fried quickly until crisp.
Whitianga Scallop Festival (September)
The glorious coastal region of the Coromandel celebrates the new season’s scallops and seafood.
Kaikoura Seafest (October)
'Kai' means food in Maori and 'koura' means crayfish. Kaikoura Seafest plates up seafood galore − think crayfish, green-lipped mussels and scallops, just for starters. Add local beer and local bands for a seriously memorable Kiwi experience.
Toast Martinborough (November)
A stone’s throw from Wellington, the lovely village of Martinborough puts on a spread with vintages matched with restaurant-quality food and live music.
Food & Wine Classic Summer (November)
The festival motto is ‘make sure you come hungry’ for ten days of gourmet food and wine events around Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand’s oldest wine producing area.
Summer’s the time to kick back and head to the beach. If you’re road-tripping pop a chilly bin (ice box) in the back of the car to cram with goodies ready for a picnic or barbecue. Look out for roadside veggie vans with the freshest sweetcorn, peaches, nectarines and luscious juicy strawberries. The Bay of Plenty is the top spot for straight-from-the-orchard avocados while down in Otago the cherries are plump, glossy and bursting with flavour. And after a day basking in the sun what better way to cool down than with a 'hokey pokey' ice cream.
Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration (January)
Queenstown sits in the centre of prime pinot noir country with the schist soil the perfect terroir for producing a top drop amid awe-inspiring scenery.
Kawhia Moana, Kawhia Kai, Kawhia Tangata Festival (February)
The tiny North Island town of Kawhia welcomes all to celebrate Maori food and culture. You will get the chance to try traditional hangi (food cooked in a pit heated by hot stones), then see Maori crafts such as flax weaving or wood carving, and kapa haka groups performing traditional songs, chanting and dance. (facebook.com/kawhiakai
You can almost smell the sunshine-kissed crates of apricots in an orchard in Cromwell, New Zealand © WOWstockfootage / Getty Images
Marlborough Wine & Food Festival (February)
Prepare to be wowed by the crisp sauvignon blancs that Marlborough is famous for. Set among the vines at the area’s oldest vineyard this is a true favourite on the fine food calendar. (wine-marlborough-festival.co.nz)