Think New Zealand, think adventure and majestic scenery.
What most people don’t know is that the country has a growing food and drink scene – making it an excellent gastronomic destination for discerning foodies. Home to some of the most amazing produce, delicious meals and fine beverages, here are five must-do’s on the culinary trail in New Zealand.
Eat – the traditional Maori way
The art of Hāngī, otherwise known as cooking in the ground, is a traditional cooking technique used by the Māori for centuries. A pit is dug in the ground, filled with hot stones, then packed with fish, chicken, meat or root vegetables. The food is wrapped in leaves, then placed into baskets and lowered onto hot stones. It is then covered with a cloth and topped with soil to cook for a few hours before being removed from the earth. The result? An earthy, smoky-flavoured meat that is fall-off-the-bone tender.
Dine on Farm Reared Deer
Deer meat may sound exotic, but venison is gaining popularity among locals, thanks to a growing industry of deer farming. Most deer raised in New Zealand are done so organically and sustainably, kept in large paddocks with lots of space and fed high quality grass. The loin is a prized cut, thanks to its lean and tender disposition which is great for pan frying until medium-rare. The outskirts of Fiordland National Park around Te Anau are home to lots of deer farms, and venison is widely available around restaurants located there.
Sample a Taste of ‘Sacred’ Shellfish
Pāua is the Māori name given to abalone, a large edible sea snail which is considered sacred to Māori. They consider Pāua to be a treasure, and they use the beautiful shells of the mollusc to make jewellery and souvenirs. Pāua meat is also extremely tender and delicious – with the texture similar to a large mushroom, although it can be somewhat of an acquired taste. Similar to the scallop, it is cooked for a very short time, as overcooking results in a rubbery taste. It is usually sautéed with garlic and butter to bring out the best of its flavour. The shellfish can be sampled in Kaikoura, on the East Coast of the upper South Island.
Enjoy a Farm to Table Meal in the Middle of a National Park
New Zealand’s farmed salmon is amongst the cleanest in the world. This is because the salmon begins life in some of the world’s freshest water, composed from glacial melt water making its way into rivers, lakes, and canal systems. New Zealand salmon, like lamb and beef, are not fed steroids or growth hormones, making them 100% natural. Sample this naturally farmed produce at Awaroa Lodge in the middle of the Abel Tasman National Park, and enjoy the vegetables from their organic garden for the ultimate farm to table experience.
Experience the Growing Craft Beer Scene
An underdog in the world of craft beer, the microbrewery craft beer scene has been gaining momentum in New Zealand. Although Wellington is more renowned for craft beer in the country and leading the way for trends, Auckland is fast gaining a reputation for the craft beer movement, and adventure aside, may be the reason to visit this city. Extend your stay at the end of your trip by a few days, and stop over at one of these microbreweries for a pint with a side of fish and chips.
*newzealandwalkingtours.com offers walking itineraries throughout New Zealand.