New chocolate treats represent West Coast icons

A West Coast businessman has come up with a way of luring more visitors to the region - chocolate. And it's just in time for the return of international tourists.

With slivered almonds for the body and poppy seed eyes, you don't have to wait for the season to enjoy these chocolate 'whitebait patties'.

Glaciers are another West Coast treat, and another sweetener for any tourist.

"If you eat this chocolate you have a little bit of a taste of 7000-year-old water that came from Fox and Franz," says chocolate icons inventor Patrick Volk.

Volk, a Punakaiki cafe owner, admits his new business idea was developed out of desperation.

"I had sleepless nights because I knew that there are no tourists here," he says.

The pandemic has brought the West Coast to its knees.

"It was devastating and from one night to another we had 80 percent loss of turnover," Volk says. "Then in the middle of the night I had this idea."

Each chocolate represents a West Coast icon. There's a nugget of coal for Westport, pancake rocks for Punakaiki, gold for Greymouth, Pounamu for Hokitika, a glacier for Fox and Franz Josef, and a whitebait pattie for Haast.

They're being made in Christchurch but using ingredients from the West Coast.

"When you eat those chocolates it's not just only the chocolate and the flavour, it's [the] supplier and a part of the history," Volk says.

Tastings were free and eager in Hokitika for the official launch on Saturday.

"Tastes just like a glacier experience," one person said.

"It's gonna be a great thing for the coast," Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson added.

Making the thought of overseas tourists returning soon even sweeter.