Festival Forays – Bluff (Part Two)

“On a Mish” #279 Festival Forays – Part Two. Bluff Oyster Festival. Bluff to Riverton. 22.5.2021. There aren’t many people who haven’t heard of the famous Bluff Oyster Festival. Each year (apart from stupid 2020) people in their thousands make their way to the small fishing village for a taste of southern culture. The little town swells in size, and is an important date on the calendar for the local economy. In 2020 I was supposed to catch up with my parents and go to the festival. Like nearly everything in 2020, things didn’t quite go to plan. Now 2021 and we were pumped for round two…

With the chill of winter in the air I departed Te Anau inbound for Invercargill airport. I have enjoyed the meander south through the farmlands many times, and with my sound system blasting in my Audi I had a good time driving. Once acquainted with my olds, we drove to our accommodation for the first night in the roadworks riddled Invercargill City. The town was buzzing with people, and most of the town’s hotels and motels were booked out due to the oyster festival. The trip was organised by my old man’s tennis club, The Cashmere Tennis Counts.

Many People Waiting to go into the Festival!

Early-ish the next morning I peered out of the motel’s damp windows at a cold southerly rain pummeling the motel’s car park. This was going to be the theme for the next couple of days. Day one was spent ducking in and out of shops in the city’s CBD. The next morning it was festival day and we piled into the car with intreg of what the day / festival had install for us. We drove towards very dark clouds, and rain gave the car a good wash while we headed for the South Island’s most southern town. Parking was easier said than done, as the town was full of people and lacking parking spots. With the car telling us it was 6 degrees outside, we rugged up and began the walk to the festival’s location. We got to the entrance to find a long line of people waiting. We then followed this line for nearly a kilometer before finding the end. Luckily we found a few of the tennis counts and could sneak a few places up the very long queue. It didn’t take long before the queue began to flow like a lazy river, and before we knew it we were in. Seating is a ‘do it yourself’ style, and after a false start we finally agreed on a spot in the Oyster Shucking shed. It was lucky we decided to sit inside as the rain was on and off all day, and when combined with the wind made for a chilly time for all. With many people eyeing the chairs I stayed at our location while my parents went to get food. It is important to point out that the festival was booked out, and that meant four thousand hungry people all lined up for a feed. I watched people stroll past with plates full of fantastic looking food, and with food envy I continued to wait. An hour and a half later my olds returned with food! With food in our belly we then watched the fine art of oyster shucking. After an intense battle in the shucking competition there was an oyster eating comp. All good fun and interesting, and also a distraction from the sideways rain outside. We decided to hit the road after the competitions finished, and our next location was going to be the always rewarding surroundings of Aparima / Riverton. Over the last 12 years I have visited Aparima / Riverton to catch up with the bros, and the place has never ever disappointed. Although it was still chilly, the weather in the riviera of the south was a lot more inviting than Bluff. I’m really glad that we (The Cashmere Tennis Counts) could finally go to the oyster festival together, and I am very happy to have seen what I have heard about for years. With fading light came sunset colours, and the stunning sunset was upstaged by the incredible sunrise early-ish the next morning. Thanks for the adventure Bluff, and hey Riverton, you should probably share some of your stunning scenery and warm hospitality with your chilly neighbours!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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