Planning a trip to NZ - what's good to eat?
My husband and I are taking our long-awaited honeymoon (we were married in 2006) in New Zealand, and we would love to get some suggestions on where to go to eat, which wineries and brew pubs to visit, and any other food-related places we should check out during our month-long journey to both North and South Islands.
We are flying into Auckland, and then down to Queenstown, after which we plan to travel by car around both islands. Any recommendations would be appreciated! We are interested in all sorts of food-related places to see - farms, wineries, breweries, tasting rooms for local products like cheese, and any culinary specialties of New Zealand to taste and try...let us know! As we have a lot of time and flexibility, things off the beaten path would be great.
Thanks for your help!
You'll find the wineries without my help but if you are visiting Cromwell I recommend the Big Picture Wine Centre for something a bit different & educational as well.
Well, the good news is that it is pretty hard to go wrong in new zealand when it comes to food and wine...couple of suggestions for you
While in Auckland...
take a day (or weekend) trip out to waiheke island, a boutique wine growing region in the hauraki gulf. Not the best wine you'll drink while you're down there, but a beautiful spot and you can bike from vineyard to vineyard and hit a beach or two along the way
If you have access to a grill, check out the auckland fish market which has a fabulous selection of fresh seafood (its near the viaduct harbor/americas cup village)
A wander down parnell road offers a diverse variety of cuisines, dunk is a great place for brunch. Across town, ponsonby road is another foodie destination with a more alternative bent.
On the south island...
In my opinion, the most interesting nz wines hail from central otago (near queenstown)
a stark region irrigated by glacial runoff yielding pinot noirs with pretty intense minerality (hard to picture until you taste them...). Amisfield is a cant miss, stop there for lunch on their patio, it'll be a highlight of your trip. Mt Difficulty is another one of my favorites
I'd also recommend the Nelson area, the vineyards up here are much more "blue collar" by which I mean you're likely to find the proprietors in overalls and tending the vines when you pull up. ( be prepared to hear about the weather and the great apple market crash). In Nelson itself, they have a fantastic farmers market in the middle of town, there's also a great little brewery called founders, pouring organic ales ( dont be put off, its in some kind of touristy historic village attraction -- the beer is excellent)
Anyway, I could go on and on. I was down there last year at this time and wish I could go back. Talk to the locals, avoid the touristy spots and you'll have a brilliant time
Here's the official link for farmers markets. Note that some are seasonal, not open in the winter. You'll often find local baked goods,, honeys (bring some plastic jars for takehome), cheeses, even wines! as well as fresh veggies and good coffee. Well worth planning a trip around. The one in Waipara is at Pegasus Bay, all the more reason to visit. The Waipara Valley is within easy reach of Christchurch if you don't have time to go to Blenheim. There's a great casual cafe in Amberley, the Nor'wester, serves ostrich and local veggies.
Be sure to try the local ice creams. Also, some of the B&B's are operated by excellent home cooks!
Two that I can recommend (the first is REALLY out of the way).
They have a dairy farm as well as owning a stretch of beachfront. Think home-made yogurt, scones from their own butter, fish patties from what came up in the net that day... and just a wonderful family.
This is more of a homestay situation. Great meals, she asks what you'd like for dinner and then gets it. Nice location near some beautiful beaches in the Coromandel.
I second Amisfield Bistro. The chef's choice dinner is the way to go. They don't stay open super late so be sure to check the website.
Also worthy of a detour in the fishing village of Moeraki, is Fleur's Place. Fleur is a legend! Get the blue cod. Reservations are needed.
I'm not an NZ local, but my better half and I just got back from a too-brief trip to NZ. We can't recommend Amisfield highly enough, it was the best meal of our trip by a vast margin.
In Queenstown, Vudu Cafe had the best coffee of our entire trip. Being coffee addicts from Seattle, we were hurting until we found this place.
While Auckland proper was pretty boring from our perspective, we really enjoyed staying - and drinking - at the Shakespeare Brewery & Tavern. Extremely friendly and hospitable staff, excellent beer brewed just behind the bar, and the rooms are a steal for the location. Just down Albert Street towards the harbour was a respectable little Asian food court (not of the shopping mall sort) that we found a good chow experience.
Also in Auckland, Galbraiths Alehouse in the Mount Eden neighborhood was everything I'd hoped for; the cask conditioned real ales really did it for me as a huge fan of the English style.
Except for Amisfield, we found "fancy" places in NZ pretty disappointing. Give 'dine by Peter Gordon' in Auckland a miss. Food was uneven, service moreso. Fine dining doesn't seem to be where NZ shines, at least from what we experienced.
Up in the Bay of Islands north of Auckland, we took an overnight cruise (http://rocktheboat.co.nz/) that was really exceptional. The food at dinner and breakfast was admittedly pretty dull except for the red snapper - which we had caught off the back of the boat right before the crew cleaned and grilled them - and the green-lipped mussels which were also fresh from the bay. Another highlight of that cruise: fresh uni (sea urchin roe)! I'd never liked it before, but then I'd never eaten it straight from the sea before. I gather the roe is particularly fat right now.
Hope this is useful.
Thanks for the tips! We have already booked at Shakespeare for our first 2 nights, and we're looking forward to it. Thanks for the Galbraiths tip, as we love cask-conditioned ales especially. I was wondering (since the dollar is so weak now) - whether to give some of the high-end places a miss...
When you get here, pick up a copy the annual Cuisine magazine guide to New Zealand Wine. In addition to including the latest vineyard tasting room hours, it lists local foods to try. If you get here soon, you will be just in time for Bluff Oyster season.