A couple of months back we took a trip around New Zealand, one café at a time. This month we want to highlight some regions that do specific types of cuisine especially well, be they fish and chips or a good old fashion meat pie. So, jump in and we’ll hit the road!
Seaside fish and chips are a summer staple
If there’s one thing coastal kiwi towns ought to be known for, it’s fresh seafood. New Plymouth ticks the box here, and is replete with restaurants serving the stuff up within hours of it being caught. But the best way to sample fresh seafood is to strip it back to the bare essentials, deep fry it and serve it beside some hot chips! One New Plymouth eatery that does this particularly well is Catch & Co. Their prices reflect the quality and freshness of the food they serve, and the queue can be lengthy in the peak of summer, but if you visit their Facebook page you’ll see just how important sourcing fresh fish is to them.
Another top-notch region to visit for fresh fish and chips is Bay of Plenty, or Whakatane to be precise. Gibbos Fresh Fish and Gibbos on The Wharf are notable fish and chip connoisseurs to visit. They sell the highly coveted fresh Whakatōhea mussels, don’t open if they don’t have fresh fish (due to rough seas), and can even batter your self-caught fish by arrangement. How’s that?!
You can’t beat a pie
That’s right, you can’t beat a good kiwi meat pie on a road trip. Especially one that tastes the same in every town you visit! While variety is the spice of life, sometimes it’s nice to have a sure thing waiting for you in every BP Wild Bean Café. The coffee at the green service station superpower sometimes isn’t that hot (pun intended), but you can always depend on their pies whether you’re up north or in the deep south. Vegetarians, try the ‘Mexican’.
You know a country takes meat pies seriously when they have an annual pie judging contest called the Bakels Supreme Pie Awards. In 2017, Ing Lee took top honours for the gourmet venison, bacon, mushroom and cheese pie he sells at his Fast & Fresh Bakery in Taupo. Treat your taste buds to one, but maybe do it after your bungy jump rather than before it.
Catch a cray in Kaikoura
Cut off from tourists and commuters alike, Kaikoura suffered a huge loss of business when the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake caused damage so severe that State Highway 1 was closed for a total of one year, one month and one day. The road’s reopening reconnected tourists and road trippers with the impressive seal colony that lives just north of Kaikoura, and the delicious crayfish served at the many seafood caravans that adorn SH1 as you approach Kaikoura. The kiwi crayfish delicacy is not to be confused with lobster, and is best eaten with nothing but your hands and a dollop of butter and garlic. Try Nin’s Bin for the most authentic Kaikoura crayfish experience.
If you’ve made it the entire length of New Zealand and found yourself near Bluff and latitude 46° south, you definitely deserve an oyster… a Bluff Oyster to be exact. The world-famous oyster species – a noted aphrodisiac – is arguably the best tasting in the world. They are slow-grown in the chilly waters of Foveaux Strait, between the South Island and Stewart Island. The Bluff Oyster is so sought after that helicopters meet some boats in the open ocean to quickly collect the catch and deliver it to restaurants around the country. If you don’t own a helicopter but would like to sample the deep-water oyster all the same, make sure your NZ itinerary includes the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival in May. They say it’s ‘Unsophisticated and proud of it!’, so dig in.