This article is provided in partnership and in association with Cuisine’s sponsorship of Chocstock 2024. Article written by Luke Owen-Smith

Chocstock is a celebration of the blossoming craft chocolate movement and a uniting of 25 chocolate makers from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. After a sellout show in 2021, the ‘chocolate festival for grown ups’ is returning bigger and better this year, with four sessions over three days and 2000 attendees. 

Located at the Harbourside Function Centre on Wellington’s waterfront, the festival takes place from the 21st to 23rd of June. Tickets are available now. 

Legendary chef and food pioneer Peter Gordon is an ambassador for Chocstock, and he’ll be head judge of the ‘Ultimate Brownie Bake Off’, sponsored by Wellington Airport. Eight of Wellington’s beloved bakers will create single origin chocolate brownies using Pacific Islands chocolate, with a panel of celebrity judges tasked with crowning the Ultimate Brownie. All eight brownies will be available to purchase throughout the festival. 

If you’re keen to develop your chocolate palate and learn to taste like a pro, you might want to attend one of Chocstock’s guided tasting events. On the Saturday and Sunday daytime sessions there’s coffee and chocolate pairing with Coffee Supreme, and on the Friday and Saturday night sessions there’s beer and chocolate pairing with Double Vision Brewing. At the Chocstock bar you’ll also find a limited edition chocolate beer brewed exclusively for the festival by Double Vision, alongside exclusive cacao-infused negronis and chocolate martinis. 

A common thread between the talented artisans exhibiting at Chocstock is a passion for making chocolate from scratch – from ‘bean-to-bar’ – in small batches, using rare and fine flavour cacao beans. Much like craft beer and specialty coffee before it, craft chocolate culture has developed around the world over the past 20 years, having been pioneered by a collective of renegade chocolate fanatics in North America. 

Prior to this new movement, chocolate companies usually fell into one of two categories – huge industrial makers such as Cadbury (Mondelez International) and Hershey, or boutique chocolatiers who use pre-made chocolate, such as House of Chocolate or Bennetts Chocolate. However, at Chocstock you’ll discover a community of chocolate makers who are crafting their own chocolate from cacao beans on a tiny scale, often using bespoke and repurposed equipment. 

Making chocolate in this way is very labour intensive and time consuming, but it allows for much more attention to detail, and the use of specialty cacao varieties results in more varied, complex and fascinating flavour profiles. This is the fine dining of the chocolate world, versus the fast food of mainstream chocolate. 

One of the most exciting things about craft chocolate is the superior flavour. Most of us grew up tasting chocolate that tasted like… well, chocolate! When we think of chocolate we have a specific taste and aroma in our mind, but craft chocolate offers a much broader and deeper flavour spectrum. Bars made with just cacao and sugar can offer hundreds of flavour notes – from apricots to cinnamon to hazelnuts – all because of the special beans used, along with the incredible skill of the makers. It’s like the many different flavour notes you can find in wine; wine is not one specific flavour.

Back in 2021 there were around 10 craft chocolate makers in New Zealand, but there are now almost 30! While the movement is growing in size and popularity, many chocolate lovers are yet to be introduced to this exciting new world, so Chocstock is here to help spread the word and spark fresh curiosity and zeal. Fun is the top priority of the festival, but there’s an important message at the heart of the event. 

A key focus of craft chocolate is transparency. For centuries the chocolate industry has been shrouded in secrecy, which results in a disconnect between the shiny block of chocolate you buy at the shop and the tropical fruit it’s made from. The lack of consumer understanding of how and where chocolate is made makes it much easier for the big chocolate companies to operate with questionable ethics, particularly in regards to slavery, illegal child labour and the very low price paid for cacao beans. 

Craft chocolate makers operate with total transparency as an antidote to this system. They highlight exactly where the beans come from and typically work directly with small-scale farmers and distributors, paying well above the market (and even fair trade) price for beans. Choosing to make chocolate from scratch gives craft makers total control over the origin of their ingredients. 

Many people are not aware that chocolate making and chocolatiering are two different artforms that require very different skills and equipment (although some companies do both.) The global chocolate giants make chocolate from bean-to-bar on a vast scale, whereas boutique chocolatiers use pre-made chocolate (known as ‘couverture’), which they transform into bonbons, truffles, bars, and other creations. 

The vast majority of New Zealand’s chocolatiers use couverture that comes from big industrial makers based in Europe, with Barry Callebaut being the number one provider. Myriad things are created with this chocolate, but there isn’t much variety in the base chocolate itself. It’s a bit like if all the boutique winemakers in New Zealand were using the same base wine that was imported from a big wine factory in Europe. Imagine that! 

So when you delve into craft chocolate, you’re not just enjoying something more delicious and ethical, you’re getting a more diverse array of sensory experiences. That’s what Chocstock is all about! 

Amongst the exhibitors at the festival you’ll find multi-award winners like Foundry Chocolate, Shirl & Moss Chocolate and Hogarth Chocolate, alongside new additions to the bean-to-bar world, such as Coromandel Chocolate and Wonderland Chocolate. Mind your Temper from 

Christchurch will be there as well – a rare example of a chocolatier using local craft chocolate, currently sourced from fellow exhibitors Ao Cacao and Lucid Chocolatier. Unsurprisingly, New Zealand’s original craft chocolate maker Wellington Chocolate Factory will also be there, with GM Matt Williams a co-organiser of the event, together with local chocolate expert Luke Owen Smith. 

Chocstock is destined to introduce a new wave of chocolate lovers to the joys of craft chocolate, as well as uniting the community of passionate chocolate makers. The festival highlights chocolate made from bean-to-bar right here in New Zealand and the South Pacific; it celebrates the art of turning cacao beans into chocolate, and it marks a new era of increased chocolate diversity and deliciousness. There’s no doubt that chocolate is changing, and those who head to Chocstock are likely to leave with minds blown and bellies full. 

Head to to learn more or secure your tickets from Humanitix. Be sure to grab your tickets before they’re all eaten up!