New Zealand Food and Wine
Bluff oysters, incredible cheeses, some of the best wines in the world… New Zealand is heaven for foodies. And we all know that one of the best ways to get to know a destination is eating and drinking your way around it. With its lush landscape and varied climate, New Zealand boasts some of the most mouth-watering ingredients on the planet. But where to find them? That’s where Flight Centre comes in. Here, we count down our favourite food and wine experiences in New Zealand:
Breathe in the intoxicating scents of freshly-brewed coffee, baked bread and organic spiced hot chocolate as you peruse the artisan delicacies on offer at the local farmers’ markets. And one of the best things about spending an afternoon at a market is the chance to taste everything.
One of our favourite places for trying local delights is Matakana Farmers’ Market in Auckland. Held every Saturday morning, don’t miss the chance to sample Puhoi cheese and that all-important coffee. If you’re looking for a market with a French twist, head to La Cigale. Inspired by European cuisine, get ready to taste plenty of cheese, as well as crepes drizzled in chocolate. Visiting Wellington? Harbourside Market is the one not to miss; you’ll find an abundance of colourful fresh fruits and vegetables here. And the Christchurch Farmers’ Market is one of the best in the region; its aim is to showcase local cuisine and every Saturday, more than 80 stalls set up at Riccarton House to feed hungry visitors.
Best wine regions
When it comes to the best wine tours in New Zealand, you can look forward to some award-winning tipples during your time here. New Zealand’s cool temperatures allow vibrant flavours to develop and balance with a refreshing acidity, creating a unique blend that Kiwi wines are famed for.
The country’s most significant and beautiful wine regions are evenly distributed between both islands. In the north, Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s oldest wine region producing full-bodied reds and complex Chardonnays. While just outside of Wellington, Martinborough produces a distinctive Sauvignon Blanc, which is only overshadowed by the region's flagship Pinot Noir.
Meanwhile, the south boasts New Zealand’s premier wine region: Marlborough. The exquisite flavours you can expect from Marlborough’s wines are all thanks to near-perfection in terms of climate and high-quality soil, so it’s no wonder that 75% of the country's wine is produced here. Head further south to Central Otago and you’ll be sampling some of the best Pinot Noir in the world. With smaller wine regions around Auckland, Waiheke Island, Gisborne and Waipara, you're guaranteed to taste some delicious tipples.
Best foods to try
Be prepared for some of the finest cuisine you’ve ever tasted in New Zealand. From fresh oysters to succulent roast lamb and world-class cheese, the only tough decision you’ll face on your holiday is which delicious dish to try next.
With more than 8,500 miles of coastline, you can look forward to some seriously fresh seafood here. Think whitebait fritters, green-lipped mussels, Bluff oysters, scallops fried with pancetta, and snapper fish. If you’re visiting in May, don’t miss the Bluff Oyster Festival for your chance to taste some of the finest in the world.
New Zealand lamb is revered around the globe, and roast lamb is a real Kiwi favourite. Best enjoyed with rosemary and plenty of vegetables, you’ll find it on the menu of all the best restaurants. One of our favourites is in Auckland: The Bluestone Room serves up a lamb shank served with saffron risotto and buttered green beans, and it is delicious.
For a real taste of the culture, get involved in a Hangi experience. Traditionally, the Maori people cooked in a pit beneath the ground in ovens called Hangi. Chicken, fish and root vegetables were the usual staples, but these days lamb, potatoes, cabbage and stuffing are also included. After several hours underground, the meat is so tender it falls off the bone, while the vegetables are infused with a smoky fragrance. In Rotorua, the food is cooked in natural thermal steam and water.
Love cheese? Well you’re in luck. The good stuff is found everywhere in New Zealand, and it’s pretty special. From blue cheeses to creamy soft brie and buffalo mozzarella, you’ll find all sorts of award-winning cheeses here. Hit the trail in Northland and pay a visit to artisan cheesemakers Grinning Gecko, where organic milk is sourced from a local farm to make some of the country’s finest soft cheeses. Visit the factory in the heart of Whangarei and you can even watch the cheese being made a couple of times a week.
If mozzarella is your thing, make a beeline for Auckland; arguably the mozzarella capital of New Zealand. Il Casaro on the North Shore is a huge hit with restaurants in the area. Travelling to Waikato? Then get ready to revel in cheese lovers’ paradise. Plenty of the country’s most established cheese-makers are here, including Mercer Cheese, where 12kg rounds of edam and gouda are sliced right in front of you.
Best food tours
With so many incredible flavours to sample on your New Zealand holiday, it can be tricky to know where to start. That’s where Flight Centre comes in. One of our favourite ways to experience the very best of the food and wine is on our Gourmet New Zealand Journey. Starting in Auckland, North Island, your taste discovery will begin at a height – 190 metres, to be exact. The top of the Sky Tower is where you’ll find the rotating Orbit 360 restaurant, so you can dine while admiring panoramic views. From here, you’ll travel to Rotorua and onto Napier, renowned for producing some of the country’s finest wines. You’ll visit the vineyards and taste a glass or two of Hawke’s Bay’s finest vintages. Continue onto Wellington, where the café culture is legendary; sample the cappuccinos, before embarking on a Capital Tastes tour, which showcases the best cuisine in town. Make sure you arrive hungry – you’ll be sampling everything, from ice-cream to cheese and chocolate cake! After spending time in Blenheim, Kaikoura, Christchurch and the beautiful Lake Tekapo, your Journey ends in the South Island’s Queenstown. Finish your trip in style on a Boutique Wine tour of the region, sampling a few final delicious tipples and raising a toast to foodie paradise.