Fearless punters face wild food challenge

01:09, Mar 10 2013
These American Indians visited from the Wild Foods Festival but really are from Ashburton and Christchurch.
These American Indians visited from the Wild Foods Festival but really are from Ashburton and Christchurch.
Shona Marshall from Hoki is one of only four people to know the secret whitebait recipe on the Soroptimist international/westland stall at the Hokitika Wild Food Festival.
Shona Marshall from Hoki is one of only four people to know the secret whitebait recipe on the Soroptimist international/westland stall at the Hokitika Wild Food Festival.
Left Kylie McNeilly. 23 and her sister rachel, 21. from Invercargill at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival
Left Kylie McNeilly. 23 and her sister rachel, 21. from Invercargill at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival
Fun and games at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival
Fun and games at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival
Fun and games at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival where the 'bums' were from Christchurch and Barbara was from Reefton.
Fun and games at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival where the 'bums' were from Christchurch and Barbara was from Reefton.
Sheep Chris Cowie from Dunedin getting a shot of moonshine from the Hoki rotary club at the Hokitika Wildfood festival.
Sheep Chris Cowie from Dunedin getting a shot of moonshine from the Hoki rotary club at the Hokitika Wildfood festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival.
Food Cowboys trying barbequed mountain oysters trying at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Food Cowboys trying barbequed mountain oysters trying at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Anna Boyd, 29, from Lake Benmore getting up close and frendly with some sheep's testicles at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival.
Anna Boyd, 29, from Lake Benmore getting up close and frendly with some sheep's testicles at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfoods festival.
The team from Highly Flammable provided some of the entertainment at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
The team from Highly Flammable provided some of the entertainment at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Festival regulars Angela and Graeme Calvert from Christchurch making their way to the booze tent at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival.
Festival regulars Angela and Graeme Calvert from Christchurch making their way to the booze tent at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival.
Fun at the Hokitika Wildfood Festival.
Tim Dawson from Auckland tucks into Mutton bird at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Tim Dawson from Auckland tucks into Mutton bird at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Callum Jones from Christchurch gets a birthday kiss at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Callum Jones from Christchurch gets a birthday kiss at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
Local Hokitika lass Emily Garside, 6, was determined to try a live huhu grub for the first time, putting hardy lads to shame with her brave chomping. "It tastes a bit juicy," she said after casually biting a wriggling grub’s head off.
Local Hokitika lass Emily Garside, 6, was determined to try a live huhu grub for the first time, putting hardy lads to shame with her brave chomping. "It tastes a bit juicy," she said after casually biting a wriggling grub’s head off.

Fearless palates have faced their annual challenge today at the 24th Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.

Organisers said about 12,000 attended the small West Coast township's biggest event, several thousand more than originally predicted, with the queue stretching two blocks down to the town clock at one stage.

Many arrived from Canterbury but plenty travelled from further afield, including those on a special Air New Zealand plane from Wellington.

It wasn't all about gore and guts with plenty of tasty treats for more sedate appetites, but a surprising diversity dared to sample mountain oysters (sheep testicles), live crickets, huhu grubs and other creepy crawly delights.

Event manager Mike Keenan said a few offerings were definitely off his menu and destined for hardier souls than him.

However, Westland mayor Maureen Pugh admitted she had sampled a live cricket and stallion sperm at previous events.

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But she said it didn't matter how much she chewed, the cricket still felt ''like rolling flax around in your mouth''.

Local Hokitika lass Emily Garside, 6, was determined to try a live huhu grub for the first time, putting hardy lads to shame with her brave chomping.

''It tastes a bit juicy,'' she said after casually biting a wriggling grub's head off.

Entertainment kept the crowd happy in the sunshine, including an aerobatics display by the Royal New Zealand Air Force's Red Checkers aerobatics team this afternoon. 

Over the years, more and more donned wild costumes to get into the vibe, a mini Wellington's Rugby Sevens, and worth it with a  $1000 travel prize handed over for the best dressed.

The Curly Tree Whitebait stall offered a spot prize of a cooked freshly caught crayfish for the most festival participant.

The main event finishes at 5.30pm today but four bands tonight at the Cass Square site will keep festival goers happy until the wee hours tomorrow.

Pugh said the event's financial benefit was huge with a study showing $6.5 million trickled down into the local economy each year with many stall holders fundraising for community groups.

Fairfax Media