Started as a small gathering in 2005, the Whitianga Scallop Festival has since grown into one of New Zealand’s most popular seafood-themed events. From its modest beginnings with 2,000 attendants, the Whitianga Scallop Festival now annually hosts crowds of over 6,000 people—nearly double the town’s permanent population.
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Held on the artsy and incomparably scenic Coromandel Peninsula, the Whitianga Scallop Festival is considered to be one New Zealand’s premiere events focusing solely on seafood. With dozens of vendors offering scallops prepared in every conceivable way—barbequed, on kebabs, or bathed in sauces—the Whitianga Scallop Festival also hosts a scallop recipe competition where local residents can submit their recipes and have them prepared and judged by a panel of celebrity chefs. Add this to additional booths selling mussels, oysters, urchin, kina, and a variety of freshly caught fish, and the Whitianga Scallop Festival is the undisputed place to be for seafood lovers across the North Island of New Zealand.
Much more than scallops and seafood, the Whitianga Scallop Festival has also grown to feature an array of live entertainment, scallop shucking contests, as well as beer and wine booths sponsored by local breweries and vineyards. It’s an energetic scene where some attendants nibble on perfectly grilled scallops, others let loose with the beer and live music, and a host of local artisans sell locally made handicrafts ranging from wool sweaters to handcrafted jewelry.
Despite the potential for being a gluttonous affair, attendees of the Whitianga Scallop Festival can also educate themselves with cooking classes to learn how to replicate the mouthwatering flavors once the gates are closed and everyone has stumbled home. Located only two hours from the city of Auckland, the Whitianga Scallop Festival is close enough to other Coromandel attractions such as Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach to make it an ideal destination for New Zealand holiday seekers or international guests lucky enough to be in town.