When most travellers think about New Zealand, they think of it as a place of adventure and majestic scenery. However, a growing food and drink scene is making the country rise among the ranks of gastronomic destinations to visit. Home to some of the most amazing produce, delicious meals and arguably Oceania’s finest beverages, here are 5 must-do’s on the culinary trail in New Zealand, as curated by travel experts New Zealand Walking Tours.
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, according to the New Zealand Herald. Extend your stay in Auckland 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.
Eat in the Traditional Maori Way
The art of Hāngī, otherwise known as cooking in the ground, has been 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 aluminium foil (or traditionally in leaves), placed into baskets and lowered onto the hot stones. It’s then covered with a cloth and topped with soil to cook for a few hours before being removed from the earth. The result is an earthy, smoky flavoured meat that falls off the bone tenderly. It really is one of a kind! Enjoy this Māori cultural experience here.
Dine on Farm Reared Deer
Dining on deer meat is usually seen as exotic. However, venison has become a very popular choice of meat among locals, thanks to a growing industry of deer farming, something travellers may not imagine when journeying through New Zealand. Legalized since 1969, most deer raised in New Zealand are done so organically and sustainably, usually kept in large paddocks with high quality grass, and lots of space. Locals enjoy dining on the loin which is lean, tender, and great for pan frying until medium-rare. It’s perfect with a glass of Merlot or Shiraz. The outskirts of Fiordland National Park around Te Anau are home to lots of deer farms, therefore venison is widely available around the restaurants located there.
Sample a Taste of ‘Sacred’ Abalone
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. But did you know that Pāua meat is tender and extremely delicious? The texture is similar to a large mushroom, and is somewhat of an acquired taste. Similar to the scallop in fragility, it is cooked for a very short time, otherwise overcooking results in a rubbery taste. It is usually sautéed with garlic and butter to bring out the best of its flavour. Sample this sacred shellfish in Kaikoura, on the East Coast of the upper South Island.
Enjoy a Farm to Table Meal in the Middle of a National Park
Although not a new concept in the dining world, the quality of the produce in New Zealand makes all the difference. 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. As well, 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.
To find out more about incredible walking itineraries throughout New Zealand, visit newzealandwalkingtours.com.
About New Zealand Walking Tours
Based in Queenstown, New Zealand Walking Tours is proudly presented by Active Adventures. With over 20 years of experience and learning, they have perfected the art of relaxed adventure, sending guests home with memories to last a lifetime. From discovering the pristine beauty of Milford Sound on foot, to dining at locally renowned restaurants with award-winning wine, experiences are catered for travelers that enjoy the finer things in life.