New Zealand Adventures For Food Junkies
By Karen Leiva
With incredible, majestic landscapes from the North Island to the South Island, New Zealand is one of those places that will most certainly take your breath away. Adventure junkies love New Zealand for its well- known bungee jumping or skydiving activities; sea lovers come for wild dolphin or sea lion swims; and Lord of the Rings fans flock here to visit the beautiful lands where the movies were filmed. And for the Bon Vivant, there are world class wines to taste, cultural food experiences and seafood so fresh it will melt in your mouth like butter. The seafood, in fact, is so delicious that even the simplest meal of fish-and-chips overlooking the sea will impress any gourmand.
Top Foodie Experiences
On the Wine Trail
Spread across stunning landscapes, there are three major wine regions with more than 230 vineyards. There are four key areas to visit, including Hawke’s Bay on North Island which is home to premium reds and rich Chardonnays; and Marlborough on South Island, which is the largest wine-producing region in the country known for its Sauvignon Blanc. The best way to see the wine regions is to follow the Classic Wine Trail either by car or bicycle. If you took the time to visit cellars and farmer’s markets along the way, it would take just under a week to do the entire trail by car. It’s hard to imagine a better way to experience New Zealand and its incredible countryside and coastal views.
Join the Festival: The annual summertime Marlborough Food and Wine festival pays homage to locally-produced wines. Expect great local cuisine and wine, particularly Sauvignon Blanc, and musical performances by some of the country’s best artists performing at historic vineyards.
Delicacies for the Gourmand
There’s absolutely no shortage of local sea and land delicacies in New Zealand. Popular seafood includes the plump, tasty Bluff oysters, succulent scallops or green-lipped mussels. Moving inland to the rivers on the west coast is home to whitebait, a local delicacy most often prepared in a fritter. Meat lovers can indulge in New Zealand’s world renowned lamb, commonly roasted with fresh herbs. If you’re keen to get a closer look at sheep farming, many farmers open their homesteads to guests.
Join the Festival: Oyster lovers will want to head to the South Island in May for the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival. At this festival, which proudly declares itself as ‘unsophisticated’, expect all-day festivities, live music and, of course, oyster shucking and eating competitions.
Traditionally, the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand would cook by digging a deep pit, cover it with hot rocks and place baskets of food over the rocks. Then the food would be covered with earth and left to cook for hours. Today at cultural centres, you can enjoy a mouth-watering and slightly smoky flavoured meal of meats and vegetables cooked in one of these traditional hangi earth ovens. Attending a hangi feast usually also includes a chance to see the mesmerizing haka war dance where face-painted warriors chant while stamping their feet and slapping their bodies to the rhythm. Your travel agent can advise you of the best hangi feasts to attend.
Join the Festival: Kawhia Kai Festival is an annual summer festival on the North Island. A celebration of Maori food; expect to taste traditional fare including paua (abalone) or smoked fish and eel.