Celebrating the scallop by leaving them be for now
A festival of seafood and cuisine - from dock to dish
NOTE: This event was formerly known as the Whitianga Scallop Festival
Scallops rank up there as one of Kiwi’s favourite seafoods. So it is not surprising that the annual Whitianga Scallop Festival quickly became one of New Zealand’s must-do festivals. Past festivals have sold out well in advance of the event with huge crowds indulging in this iconic delicacy.
However, locals became increasingly concerned at the state of the scallop beds and some commercial fishing practices. Good-sized scallops became hard to find and there were fears for the survival of the highly-prized molluscs in the waters of the Hauraki Gulf, Tīkapa Moana. In December 2020, kaumātua from the local iwi, Ngāti Hei called a voluntary rāhui in Opito Bay waters over the summer period. This was followed by a request from Ngāti Hei, with the backing of various community groups, for a two-year ban on scallops under section 186A of the Fisheries Act in February 2021. This has since been ratified by MPI and scallops are now off the menu for the festival for now.
The Whitianga Oceans Festival continues by celebrating all the much-loved bounty from the sea with a unique blend of open-air upmarket cafés and restaurants serving up authentic New Zealand seafood next to community groups like Coastguard and the local school. The fresh kaimoana is cooked up in many different ways for the enjoyment of visitors to the day-long festival.
Top that with open stages with some of New Zealand’s best live bands, hilarious cook-offs and cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs and you have a raft of fishy festivities to amuse taste buds and entertain.
Mark next year's Oceans Festival in your diary, it's always in September, and make sure you get to experience the tastes, aromas, sounds and sights of fresh Coromandel seafood, while the scallops rest in their beds for now.
Location: Whitianga, The Coromandel. New Zealand
View Ray McVinnie's Perspective on the (former) Whitianga Scallop Festival.