Mountain-fed waterways and clean oceans, lush pastureland and a temperate climate make New Zealand a garden of eden when it comes to fine food. Layer the landscape with creative, innovative and passionate farmers, growers and chefs, and you have the perfect recipe for one of the world’s most exciting dining destinations.
In this edition of our travel journal, we’re sharing five foods you simply must try whilst in New Zealand...
The Finest Beef Fillet
Rated the world’s finest, by the world’s finest – top international chefs agree that New Zealand lamb is the best in the world.
Like all good food, lamb reflects the way it has been grown – and premium New Zealand lamb is free ranging, grazing only on green open pastures and natural forage. This makes for world-renowned lamb that’s melt-in-your-mouth tender, sweet and succulent.
And while you could visit many top dining establishment around the world and see New Zealand lamb on the menu, on holiday here in New Zealand you get to enjoy the freshest cuts of genuine farm-gate-to-plate lamb.
Our tip - savour your lamb with a glass of internationally award-winning Hawke's Bay syrah or Central Otago pinot noir.
The King of Salmon
The seafood-loving world pays a premium for the privilege of eating New Zealand salmon. New Zealand salmon has a sublime soft, buttery texture and an elegant balance of umami flavours. King salmon is the only species farmed in New Zealand, and it has the highest level of beneficial omega 3 oils of any salmon.
The superb quality of New Zealand salmon is largely thanks to the quality of the water they are raised in – some of the purest water (both freshwater and sea) on earth. New Zealand salmon farms are also internationally regarded as some of the finest operations for natural farming practises, sustainability and environmental management.
Image via Tourism New Zealand
The best way to appreciate New Zealand salmon is to eat it fresh, and raw – as thinly sliced sashmi. If your holiday includes a stop in the wine country of Marlborough, save your salmon-eating experience for this part of the journey, as you could dine on the freshest (as in – it was swimming in the cool, deep waters of the Marlborough Sounds only hours ago) and most delicious salmon of your life.
Waiheke Island, a sub-tropical paradise in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, has become one of the world’s finest producers of olives and olive oil.
International sommeliers agree that New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil is among the best in the world, and Waiheke Island growers are consistently winning top honours in international competitions. Olives flourish here, thanks to the island’s warm, dry microclimate.
Visit Waiheke, and you can wander through picturesque beachside groves, meet with the growers themselves, learn what it takes to harvest and press internationally award-winning olive oil, and taste the vibrant range of extra virgin olive oils on offer.
Only have time for one? One of our picks would be Azzuro Groves, winners of a Gold medal at the 2016 New York IOOC. Their winning Tuscan Blend is a fresh, buttery blend of Frantoio, Leccino and Pendolino olives with a gentle pepperiness on the back palate. Divine drizzled over some slow-ferment sourdough.
New Zealand manuka honey is prized the world over. Counterfeit organisations have even sprung up, trying to pass their honey off as this liquid gold!
So, what makes this varietal of honey so special? Manuka honey is produced by bees that collect the nectar of the manuka flower. Manuka is native to New Zealand and was used by indigenous Maori as a natural medicine for hundreds of years. Honey, of course, has proven natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities, but its medicinal strength differs greatly from variety to variety – and it is said that genuine New Zealand manuka honey is the most potent of all.
Chefs at Auckland's Orphans Kitchen cooking with manuka honey from True Honey Co.
Premium New Zealand manuka honey comes from stands of manuka grown in remote valleys and rugged mountain ranges, where the purest air, cleanest water and most nutrient rich soil can be found. New Zealand beekeeping practises lead the world, and every batch of authentic manuka honey can be traced back to a specific region of land and floral source.
Try manuka honeycomb with sun-ripened Hawke's Bay figs and vanilla bean icecream... welcome to flavour heaven...
Image via J Friend & Co artisan honey
Champions of Cheese
The dairy industry has always been major contributor to the New Zealand economy and there is consistent international demand for this nation's high quality milk and butter. Well, what does superb milk make? Superb cheese! New Zealand fromagers craft blue cheeses and creamy cheeses particularly well.
Via MindFood magazine
Speciality cheese shops can be found right around the country, or visit a countryside cheesemaker and sample directly from their cellar.
Ask us to have a platter laden with handcrafted speciality cheese waiting for you in your accommodation when you arrive – with a glass of sparkling New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it’s a gorgeous way to toast the start of your holiday!
Where’s the wine?
We didn’t forget the wine! But - as much as we’d like it to be - wine is not a food group. And besides, New Zealand’s perfect Pinots and stunning Sauvignons are in a league of their own – they deserve a dedicated journal entry (coming soon)...
Salmon, cheeses, olives, honey... now that's what we call a tasting plate! Image via True Honey Co.
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No matter where in New Zealand you’re staying, we’ll share our insider knowledge of where the best artisan grocers and delis are – so you can eat like a discerning local every day of your holiday!
And whether you want fine dining presented to your table by an executive chef, or would prefer to meet the producers and try their fare right there on the farm, we can create once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for you to experience some of the world’s finest food.