With the country’s rolling pastures, ample rainfall and isolation, New Zealand has always produced plenty of seasonal produce and sustainable eats, with a traditional cuisine culture based in whole foods, home baking and preserving.
In recent years, Kiwis have gone further, embracing clean eating, organics and sustainable producers as part of their daily routine. From gate to plate, the sea to the pan, and market stall to your salad bowl, travellers don’t have to go out of their way to experience astonishingly fresh and flavoursome foods.
Here are some of the best local eats found throughout the country.
AUCKLAND – ORPHAN’S KITCHEN
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In Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, conscious eaters are spoiled for choice. Take Orphan’s Kitchen, which uses local, organic produce and whose manifesto even respects New Zealand’s weather conditions – if produce can’t be sourced locally in season, it won’t be on the menu.
Tom Hishon and Josh Helm, the duo behind this iconic, friendly space, are dedicated to the conservation and protection of native fish species, and openly champion more sustainable approaches for harvesting food from New Zealand forests, farmlands and rivers.
The team is committed to educating diners about Māori heritage through ways of food preparation and bringing forgotten flavours or ingredients to the table in a modern context.
FROM NORTHLAND TO SOUTH – FARMERS’ MARKETS
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Farmers’ markets are firmly established in the Kiwi foodie culture, with markets operating in most towns and cities across New Zealand. Much more than commercial platforms, weekly markets have flourished into colourful and vibrant meeting places across the county. An estimated 50,000 loyal locals and passing tourists flock to farmers’ markets each week in search of seasonal and sustainably produced food.
Each market is reflective of its regional difference, climatic conditions and environmental changes – playing a role in the vast range of produce available from north to south. The sub-tropical fruits of the north will not be found on stalls in Southland, nor will the South Island’s boutique beers and ocean catches be likely to appear at markets in Northland.
Farmers’ markets are a great way to discover and experience local communities throughout the country, whilst also enjoying a local Feijoa (native New Zealand fruit), warm pie or boutique beer.
WELLINGTON – HIAKAI
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Wellington has a fiercely held and well-deserved reputation as the home of craft beer and great coffee, but it also has a long tradition of supporting local producers.
Hiakai restaurant is more than just a place to experience indigenous cuisine in a fine dining setting. Head chef Monique Fiso’s, use of traditional ingredients that aren’t readily available has inspired a new supply chain and appreciation of Māori and Pacific food. What she can’t buy, Monique and her team forage for in the surrounding Wellington region, creating a unique one-of-a-kind dining journey, and spear-heading an indigenous food revolution in New Zealand.
At Hiakai, Fiso and her staff also celebrate manaakitanga, a Māori word that loosely translates to ‘hospitality’ and they aim to share an education with their guests, surrounding Māori traditions, ingredients and sustainability eats and efforts.
MARLBOROUGH – YEALANDS WINES
Set in the rolling foothills of the Awatere Valley, Yealands Wines commitment to a sustainable eats and vision has driven its use of advanced green production technology and innovation.
This carbon neutral winery has adopted solar and wind power, heat recovery systems, waste recycling, and storm weather collection for irrigation. Miniature ‘babydoll’ sheep are used in place of tractors to manage grass and weeds, and the estate has been able to develop more than 20 local wetland areas to preserve native plant species and attract native birds.
Yealands Estate has opened its doors to visitors, offering education sessions, self-guided vineyard tours, and complimentary tastings whilst taking in the expansive vineyard views.