You’ve never seen cheese roll like this before.
The Southland Cheese Roll is an annual community event by New Zealand Red Cross, and it’s not what you’re thinking. Imagine Red Bull trolleys meets Gloucester cheese chasing… on a mini scale.
Contestants bring along their fastest, most reliable, ornately-decorated cheese-carrying contraption to transport a small cube of cheese (cheese provided by the organiser) down the hill in New Zealand’s only cheese race. There are tons of amazing prizes up for grabs for winners.
The racing is full of intrigue - who will win, who will finish, and perhaps most fun of all, who will come unstuck.
The course runs down the straight part of the Lee St, the street that weaves its way up the famous Motupōhue/Bluff Hill, from where you can take in majestic views of the Southland region. But watch out for the camber! Will your Feta Ford survive to the bottom?
While it could seem a little cheesy (warning: this is not the last cheese-related pun) from the outside, all funds raised go to New Zealand Red Cross supporting vulnerable people affected by conflict, disaster and social isolation - both overseas and in the local community.
Entrants compete in three categories: Babybels for children aged 12 and under, Mature for those 13 years and over, and a section for groups, corporates or families - aptly named Platters.
The category winners then square off against each other to crown the year’s ‘Big Cheese’. A free-for-all, No Rolls Barred Finale for all contestants wraps up the day with winners immortalised on the “Cheeseboard of Champions”.
And for anyone thinking of rolling up un-Brie-fed, or thinking they’re gonna cream the opposition, there’s a few rules (the Fon-Do’s and Fon-Don’ts) you need to know. The main one being that gravity is the only method allowed to propel your Alfa Reggiano downhill.
So what kind of transport is best suited to cheese? Skateboards, an L&P bottle, a basketball patched with duct tape, model cars, Tonka trucks - even a ‘Chuber’, which is a cheese uber - have been used to differing degrees of success.
It’s a serious business. All Cheese-mobiles are displayed prior to the race and weighed by a scrutineer. Follow the rules, or be e-Limburger-nated.
If cheese rolling down a hill is likely to make you Blue, there’s Stil-tons (okay, we’re stretching it a bit here) of fun to be had with entertainment for the whole whānau and cheesy grins guaranteed.
There will be sausages sizzling and cheese rolls (of course) available to buy. Plus New Zealand Red Cross’ Disaster Welfare and Support Team will be on-site with all their cool gear to explain how to be "Good and Ready" for an emergency.
Gouda luck, and take it (ch)easy.