Ever had the desire to eat a Huhu grub, some sheep’s brains, or grasshoppers? No, either did I. However, this weekend, I travelled over to Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island to party at the Wild Foods Festival.
When is the Wild Foods Festival?
It normally happens in March every year, usually the second weekend.
At the time, I paid $33, but this price may have increased. Tickets can be bought from Ticket Direct NZ
Where can you stay?
There are a few hostels and hotels in Hokitika. However, like with most festivals, these overcharge and book out quite quickly. Most people end up camping at a local camp site (there are a few), and usually charge a little amount (in comparison to hostels). That is what I ended up doing.
How to get there
Coming from Christchurch, the journey to the West Coast is usually about 3-4 hours. There is a small airport, where Air NZ is the sole operator of all flights.
My experience of the Wild Food’s Festival, March 2012
The Journey to the West Coast didn’t seem to take that long. I left work early and helped my flatmate pack up the car. Tents, sleeping bags, food and drink and we were off. I was quite excited, as it was the first time that I will have been on this side of the country. On the way, we stopped off in Castle Hill, which is a great valley, of cool rock formations. Lots of people go climbing there, they bring a mattress to place under the rock, just in case of a fall.
We checked in (if that is the correct terminology at a camp site?), set up the tent, and had a few glasses of wine, and were off.
Usually each year, there is a theme, and the best dressed will get a prize. The Theme this year was farmyard/outdoors. So we ended up going as Cowgirls.
A lot of people made great efforts with their outfits, and some (like the guy dressed like a Giant M&M) didn’t stick to the Theme, or dress up at all.
What can you try at the Wild Food’s Festival?
From the rather Tame Kangaroo Burger, to Cockroaches, Grasshoppers, and Sheep’s Testicles, there really is something to suit every stomach (if you’re brave enough!)
One of the main things that the Wild Food’s Festival is famous for, is the Huhu Grub: A little worm like creature that lives in the wood. Big strong Kiwi lads stand and chop up wood for most of the day, coach them out, and then BBQ them. You buy a few to eat on cocktail sticks, quite disgusting if you think about it, but when you’ve had a few Cider’s in you, it doesn’t matter!
I ended up trying a cockroach in jelly (didn’t keep that down!) three Huhu grubs, a wild pig hot dog and white bait fritters. They also had on sale mountain oysters (Sheep’s testicles) Sheep’s brains and horse protein (NICE!) it certainly was an experience. I found that if you didn’t think about what you were eating it wasn’t so bad.
After most people have finished eating, and spewing everywhere, they head to the barn dance party, and continue drinking well into the wee hours of the morning. We had went back to our tent early to get ‘proper food’ and return later, but we were denied entry to the barn party, as we were too late, so ended up in a bar in town, where there were a number of others still dressed up, and looking quite rough.
It chucked it down the next day. (The west coast is known to be wet and windy) so taking down the tent was an experience, but we made our way back to sunny Christchurch to recover from our unusual culinary adventures.
What is the most interesting food you have tried on your travels? Would you eat Sheep’s Brains?