A winning combination of sunshine, classic Kiwi music and fine food and wine drew a record 1500 people to the Bay of Islands Food and Wine Festival.
For the third year in a row, Saturday's event on Paihia's Village Green hit it lucky with the weather. Its window of sunshine was sandwiched between Friday's wild winds, which led to record times and capsized boats in the Coastal Classic, and yesterday's grey skies and drizzle.
Eight Northland wineries and 15 restaurants, cafes and food producers took part, offering everything from Thai fish cakes and cajun chicken to hangi and raw fish salad.
Entertainment was provided by pop/hiphop singer Josh Leys, covers band The Dozen, reggae act Soljah and the Jordan Luck Band playing 1980s anthems.
Security guard "Tiny" Dawson had his work cut out keeping Luck's female fans off the stage.
In the competition marquee Kawakawa's top cop, Sergeant Nathan Davis, confirmed his status as an invincible eating machine by easily winning the pie-eating contest. Mr Davis had eaten two pies before some of his rivals were halfway through their first.
The popular kina-sucking contest was won by Justin Webster of Haruru Falls, while the top prize in the oyster-shucking final went to Whangarei's Mike Carter, continuing the family's winning form. His wife, Daina, won a family pass to the festival via the Northern Advocate.
Co-organiser Anika Whapshott said the 1500 turnout was well up on last year's estimated 1100. Pre-sales were boosted by GrabOne, which offered 250 tickets for $22 instead of the regular $45, as a way of making the event affordable for locals.
Ms Whapshott put its success down to a formula of good food and wine with iconic Kiwi music.
Now that the festival had a proven track record publications such as Cuisine and Air New Zealand's in-flight magazine were willing to promote it.