Australia & NZ
New Zealand: 8 Awesome Food and Wine Adventures
Before the kiwi or Monteith’s, there was hÄngi-time. Yes, the hÄngi: one of the original culinary touchstones of New Zealand, which, coincidentally, involves a lot of fire, white hot stones and oodles of patience. The earth oven food prep method is still alive and well in places like Rotorua, Taupo and Kawhia Harbour and has to rank as one of the country’s most indelible cultural experiences.
As even the most casual gourmand knows, however, the New Zealand penchant for good food and wine knows no bounds. Vineyards, exotic orchards, verdant pastures and the bounty of the Tasman and South Pacific provide Kiwis – and fortunate visitors – with enviable and eclectic comestible largess. You want oysters, mussels and abalone? No problem. World-class Chardonnay and Pinot? Behold. Colonial Goose and Tip Top? Look it up.
Point is, New Zealand is rife with awesome food and wine adventures. As luck has it, we have 8 on a silver platter.
Kaikoura, New Zealand – Photo credit
Rotorua has long been the gold standard for indigenous food and, most notably, the pit oven deliciousness of hÄngi. A few innovative chefs, however, such as Charles Royal, Ervin Garde at Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort and Charlie Brown at Hamurana Lodge take it one step further with immaculate technique, sophistication and spectacular local ingredients.
Where to stay: Solitaire Lodge Rotorua
Tiny Hokitika (pop. 3,000) makes a case for the west side of the South Island with the Wildfoods Festival. Held every autumn, the event runs the gamut from the more conventional (sausages and fruit wines) to the decidedly zany (horse semen shots and worm sushi).
Where to stay: Shining Star Beachfront Accommodation Hokitika
Thermal Explorer Highway
Auckland to Hawke’s Bay via Taupo
Victoria Street cafÃ©s in Hamilton and Whakawerawera hÄngi highlight the food and drink options along the Thermal Explorer Highway. In Taupo, be sure to try the geothermal prawns.
Where to stay: Beech Tree Motel Taupo
Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Lunch
The Chardonnay-rich idyll of Gimblett Gravels is home to several wine producers that lure the services of top chefs to fashion impeccable menus. From Terroir at Craggy Range to Te Awa Winery, this is how you do it up in Hawke’s Bay.
Where to stay: Navigate Seaside Accommodation
Remote Farmers’ Markets
Whangarei and Aparima
Riverton/Aparima, a small town of 1,900 at the tip of Southland, is home to a gem of a 100% organic pocket market. Over in the Northland capital Whangarei, the first ever farmers’ market in the country is a flurry of activity every Saturday.
Where to stay: Lupton Lodge Whangarei
Roadside Caravan Crayfish
Kaikoura translates as “to dine on crayfish”. How perfect is that? On a road trip from Christchurch to Nelson, roadside caravans offer the perfect regional repast.
Where to stay: Aspen Court Kaikoura
Bluff Oyster and Food Festival
Bluff, the bona fide bottom of the South Island, comes alive from March to August with the Foveaux Strait oyster harvest. The seaside town, some 28 km south of Invercargill, throws a wonderful festival in May to celebrate the bivalve bloom.
Where to stay: Victoria Railway Hotel Invercargill
Pacific Coast Highway
Auckland to Hawke’s Bay via East Cape
From Clevedon Coast Oysters outside of Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula abalone, mussels and scallops, Tairua fish and chips to Te Puke kiwifruit, the Pacific Coast Highway is tops with epicures.
Where to stay: Hotel De Brett Auckland