The world is watching New Zealand once again as The Hobbit movie reminds us of the mesmerising backdrops and cinematic scenery.
However, while there's no denying the tranquility that holidays to New Zealand offer, a few more unusual events serve as reminders that the kiwis do have a wild side too.
Each spring the seaside town of Hokitika hosts the Wildfoods Festival, where the food lives up to its name. Amid the entertainment which includes zorbing, live music and a grand finale dance, the real focus are the many yet-to-be-acquired tastes on offer. The menu changes annually but has included, worm sushi, snails on sticks, smoked sheep tails and scary looking huhu grubs. The idea is locally produced “gourmet bush tucker”.
In autumn, humble shepherding is given a raucous twist at the Hunterville Huntaway Festival. The highlight of the day-long affair is the oddly named Shepherd’s Shemozzle where real shepherds (and their Huntaway sheepdogs) compete in an increasingly insane cross-country obstacle course. The new course isn't revealed to the brave/masochistic competitors until just moments before the starting pistol, but challenges along the route range from downing a sheep's eye with cream to running through a mudslide.
For less outdoorsy types, imagine the Turner Prize shortlist crossed with an avant garde fashion show with a little bit of a dream sequence thrown in and you're getting close to the World of Wearable Art Awards Show. The eye-popping spectacle on New Zealand's cultural calendar pits creatives against each other in categories like Bizarre Bras and Reinventing the Tutu.