Australia & NZ

New Zealand: 8 Awesome Food and Wine Adventures

Before the kiwi or Monteith’s, there was hāngi-time. Yes, the hāngi: 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

Māori Cuisine
Rotorua

Rotorua has long been the gold standard for indigenous food and, most notably, the pit oven deliciousness of hāngi. 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

Rotorua City Guide

Wildfoods Festival
Hokitika

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

Hokitika City Guide

Thermal Explorer Highway
Auckland to Hawke’s Bay via Taupo

Victoria Street cafés in Hamilton and Whakawerawera hāngi 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

Taupo City Guide

Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Lunch
Hawke’s Bay

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

Napier City Guide

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

Whangarei City Guide

Roadside Caravan Crayfish
Kaikoura

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

Kaikoura City Guide

Bluff Oyster and Food Festival
Bluff, Southland

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

Invercargill City Guide

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

Auckland City Guide

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