Guide to eating local in New Zealand
From farm gates to picking your own, the flavours of New Zealand’s natural produce are an adventure in themselves.
New Zealand is famed for its extraordinary food, from the gate to the plate, the sea to the pan, the market stall to salad bowl. Your clients won’t have to go far to experience astonishingly fresh and flavoursome foods.
Lodgings, restaurants focused on food
Many boutique B&Bs and farm stays welcome visitors who are eager to experience rural life. Gather your own breakfast eggs at The Manse
in Hawkes Bay or enjoy a taste of rural living from the kitchen garden and orchard at The Sherwood
in Queenstown. Spend a night at Hapuku Treehouses
and dive for paua (abalone) and crayfish fresh from the sea. Or simply enjoy bread, stock, ice cream and even peanut butter, all made in-house.
Establishments at which the owners grow or source their produce locally are becoming more common as diners favour food that hasn’t travelled far – even if the diner has come a long way. To find out more, contact the owners before you arrive, most will be happy to help.
Aquaculture is alive and well
At Huka Prawn Park
, 10 minutes’ drive north of Taupo and not far from the famous Huka Falls, guests can fish for their own prawns in freshwater ponds, then the riverside restaurant cooks and serves them. At nearby Lake Taupo, Chris Jolly Outdoors
will take your clients fishing for trout - from the boat on the lake, or fly fishing in a secret river location.
Huka Prawn Park is open year-round, except Christmas Day, with longer hours during summer. It also offers guided tours of the prawn nursery and hatchery. If planning to go trout fishing, check with the restaurant before going out on whether they can cook your catch.
Buy local at farmers’ markets
Increasingly fashionable, farmers’ markets
keep the food miles low and quality high. Paihia, in the historic Bay of Islands, hosts a pop-up market every Thursday afternoon on the Village Green. With smoked fish, cheeses, artisan breads, vine-ripened tomatoes and free-range eggs, this is the perfect picnic stop. Catch the same producers at nearby Kerikeri on Saturday mornings. On Sunday mornings in rural Waikato, Hamilton’s Te Rapa Racecourse turns itself over to baked goods, fruit and vegetables, meat, coffee and entertainment or check out nearby Cambridge. Picturesque Clevedon, south of Auckland, has fresh local oysters, among other delicacies. In bountiful Hawke's Bay
, there are not one but two farmers' markets - on Saturdays in Napier, and Sundays in Hastings.
An estimated 50,000 loyal locals and passing tourists flock to farmers’ markets every week seeking seasonal, sustainably produced food. Be sure to travel with a cooler (called a chilly bin in New Zealand), utensils and napkins to make the most of eating well on the road.
Shop fresh at farmers’ gates
Whatever the season, driving around New Zealand, you’ll never be far from a roadside stall selling everything from avocados to kiwifruit, berries, honey, eggs and juices. Juicy feijoas in early autumn – like a cross between a pineapple and a banana – are a real local treat as there are few countries in the world where they grow so easily. Almost anywhere in the North Island over summer, gorge on strawberries, sweet corn and watermelon. At the same time in Central Otago in the South Island, stone fruit including cherries, apricots and peaches are at their glorious peak.
From early summer to late autumn, roadside and farm gate stalls sell all manner of fresh produce and preserves. Tell your clients to drive slowly, watch closely and have small change on hand to make the most of the unmanned honesty box stalls.
Pick your own fresh fruit
Across New Zealand, many farmers welcome genuine, respectful gatherers to pick their own produce. Bag berries in West Auckland, Nelson and Waikato or try plucking nashi pears from Gary and Lynda’s Orchard on the outskirts of Christchurch. Coal Creek Farm in Roxburgh on the South Island has apricots and cherries, while Mrs Jones’ Fruit Orchard
outside Cromwell grows everything from cherries to apricots, plums, apples and pears. Or try hunting with the charming Tom Loughlin from Kai Waho
(translation: outdoor cuisine), who takes his guests into the wilds for an authentic hunting and gathering expedition.
Always check ahead of time that farms are open for self-picking as most are working farms. Websites such as pickyourown.org give details of orchards and farms or visit the NZ Fruit and Foodshare map on Google maps.
Check out our downloadable food maps: