7 Gob-stopping Gastronomic Experiences to Have in New Zealand
VroomVroomVroom shows you the best places to try New Zealand's award winning wine and food
New Zealand's economy was built on agriculture, particularly meat, dairy products and fruit. In recent years, these staple ingredients have been diversified into a fabulous foodie culture. Fantastic growing conditions, and innovative producers means that New Zealand is second to none in its gastronomic offerings. Combine that with miles of coastline to provide us with seafood, or kai moana, and the experience is complete. Try some of our recommendations when you are exploring!
Seafood in Kaikoura
Kaikoura's name literally means 'crayfish', and this is just one of the local seafood specialties you must try when visiting. Kaikoura is the northernmost part of the Canterbury region, and is an easy 2.5 hour drive from Christchurch, or just two hours from Picton if you have come to the South Island on the inter-island ferry. It is a coastal town which has stunning mountain-to-sea vistas, especially pretty when there is snow on the mountains. It is also New Zealand's whale-watching capital. The seafood offerings are divine all year around, but a great time to visit in the weekend of 'Seafest'. This family-friendly festival showcases plenty of fabulous food, and also the wines from nearby Marlborough. This year it will be held on Friday 30 September and October 1st. Saturday is a day for all ages, but Friday is a restricted R-18 party night, 'The Big Top Bash'.
Wine and Cheese in Queenstown
Queenstown has more than its fair share of fine dining restaurants, and is a highly regarded wine producing region. The nearby Gibbston Valley area's signature variety is Pinot Noir, but don't limit yourself. You can find stunning aromatic white wines, rosé, and dessert wines here too. While wine tasting is perceived as an expensive pastime, for a small charge you can taste a range of wines with no obligation to purchase. Although, why wouldn't you? The wines here are definitely souvenir-able! Gibbston Valley Wines, the region's pioneer winemaker has a unique wine cave to tour, and has an on-site cheesery. Taste premium cheeses made of cow, goat or sheep milk. You can have a platter made up to enjoy on-site, or to take away.
The Marlborough Food and Wine Festival
Marlborough, with its main centre of Blenheim is New Zealand's largest wine growing region. It made its name with world class Sauvignon Blanc wine, but also produces exceptional Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. Marlborough is home to New Zealand's longest running wine and food festival. In the glorious February sunshine each year, the wineries of the region join forces with top local food producers for a day of feasting and drinking. There is also a culinary pavilion with cooking demonstrations, and live music from some of New Zealand's biggest names. The next event is Saturday February 11, 2017.
Hawkes Bay is known simply as 'Wine Country'. While Marlborough is New Zealand's largest volume wine region, Hawkes Bay is the oldest, with vineyards established by missionaries way back in 1851. Today Hawkes Bay is known for its full-bodied red wines, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. But don't leave out the white wines; Hawkes Bay Chardonnay is complex, and you'll find a range of aromatics across vineyards. Hawkes Bay is also New Zealand's fruit bowl; apples are the staple, but there's also peaches, plums and kiwifruit. With all this bounty, it's not surprising that Hawkes Bay is home to New Zealand's oldest farmers' market. It's held every Sunday morning at the Hawkes Bay showgrounds in Hastings. There's over seventy stall holders with a wide range of produce, and live music. Pick up your car from Napier Airport and get amongst it.
Clevedon Farmers Market
Much newer than the farmers' market in Hawkes Bay, is the Clevedon Farmers' Market, on the edge of Auckland. Clevedon is just a thirty minute drive from Auckland International Airport, and the market operates every Sunday morning at the Clevedon showgrounds. The Clevedon Valley Buffalo Company sells handmade cheese and yoghurt from buffalo milk, or stock up on free-range meat, or artisan baking.
Craft Brewing in Nelson
Nelson is the only region in New Zealand that grows hops. Hops are the essential ingredient that gives beer its bitter taste, as the flavour comes from the alpha acid found in the hop plant. While Nelson's hops are exported all around the world, it makes sense that beer has become an art-form in Nelson, and it is now the craft brewing capital of New Zealand. The Tasman region, adjacent to Nelson, has recently opened the 'Tasman Great Taste Cycle Trail.' The cycle-way passes many craft breweries offering tastings and sales.
Traditional Hangi in Rotorua
Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua offers a traditional hangi meal. Part of the evening is to see the food being lifted from the steaming 'earth oven' or 'hangi pit'. Because it is steamed, hangi meat is particularly succulent and moist. The meats are cooked alongside root vegetables such as potato and kumara (sweet potato).
What was your most memorable food experience in New Zealand? Share the love and let us know!