Cheesegate 2.0? Air New Zealand to switch up cheese and crackers in Koru Hour – Stuff

Posted: April 22, 2022 at 4:48 am

Air New Zealand is living dangerously changing the cheese on offer during the recently returned Koru Hour and potentially affecting the all-important cheese-to-cracker ratio in the process.

Kiwi travellers extraordinary interest in the quality of the free cheese and crackers offered on certain domestic flights between 4:35pm and 7:05pm was first highlighted in 2015 when a disappointed passenger named Jeremy Chaston complained that the cheese to cracker ratio is completely out of whack, sharing a picture on social media of two crackers dwarfed by their cheesy toppings.

He deemed it a matter of national concern, and it was his post prompted a nationwide debate on just how cheese and crackers should be served.

The national carrier eventually did what Chaston suggested and added a couple of extra crackers and now, seven years later, its making even bigger changes to Koru Hour, which returned this week after a pandemic-induced break.

Brook Sabin/Stuff

Don't worry - cookies and lollies are staying, but there will be different choices too (video published July 2021).

READ MORE:* Air New Zealand settles on new in-flight snacks: Corn chips face uncertain future, while tea and coffee to be axed from some flights * Air New Zealand unveils new inflight snacks* Air New Zealand customer cheesed off at inflight snack

From Tuesday, the airline will replace the usual camembert cheese with edam for a limited time, and add quince paste to the mix. Theyll be served with Rutherford and Meyer rice wafer crackers four for every two pieces of cheese, which general manager customer Leeanne Langridge reckons is the perfect cheese-to-cracker ratio.

The thin rice wafer crackers may be another point of contention: Some reckon theyre too insubstantial to support a thick slice of cheese. They are gluten-free though, which makes them an option for more.

If you think quince paste sounds fancy, wait until you hear passengers will also be able to opt for an aperol spritz.

The AF Apero Spritz is a non-alcoholic version of the classic Italian cocktail, but the New Zealand-made mocktail promises the same bittersweet orange flavour and contains an intriguing-sounding ingredient called natural afterglow heat extract.

If youd prefer to wash down your cheese and crackers with a wine, beer, cider or soft drinks, no worries. Theyll all still be on offer. Another new addition slimline cans of flavoured sparkling water.

Langridge suggested passengers can expect still more changes to Koru Hour.

Well be looking forward to rotating the offering on Koru Hour to give more New Zealand companies, including the smaller ones, the opportunity to showcase their products when perhaps they werent able to in the past due to the sheer quantity we required, she said.


The new Koru Hour offering: Edam, rice crackers, quince prace and a non-alcoholic version of aperol spritz.

On jet services outside of Koru Hour, passengers will be offered bliss bites, OSM Bars and a cookie (chewy oat for this rotation) before 10am, and corn chips, cookies and Proper Crisps after 10am. Passengers on regional services will be able to choose between the cookie and bliss bites.

The airline switched up its longstanding cookie-and-chip combo on domestic flights last year, trialling alternatives such as mandarins, popcorn, muesli bars and apple crumble-flavoured ice cream. Like the Koru Hour switch-up, it was a brave move. Even minor adjustments to snack offerings have caused outrage in the past. In addition to the 2015 Cheesegate, the police were alerted in March after a passenger found the usual chocolate chip cookie had been replaced by horror of horrors shortbread.

In-flight snack offerings are still a bit of a moveable feast, so Stuff Travel thought wed help the airline out by rating current and recent offerings. Let us know your favourites in the comments.

A cocktail-hour classic, the cheese-and-cracker combo is a winner particularly when served with a good glass or in this case plastic cup of quality Kiwi wine. The cheese choice is key though. Neither tangy nor smelly, edam and camembert are both safe options, but can be a little bland. Id love it if they served Kpitis Kahurangi Creamy Blue, but it is on the stinky side, which not all passengers may appreciate as air is circulated throughout the cabin. A good compromise could be Clevedon Creamerys walnut-studded buffalo gouda. The nuts add texture and flavour, the buffalo milk makes it extra rich, and no one could fairly say it stinks.

Rating: 7/10

Biting into one of these sugary bad boys makes me feel like a uni student again (giant Cookie Times and cans of V were a lunchtime staple), but theyre not doing our bodies any favours. Yes, the airline offers only mini versions, and theres nothing wrong with treating yourself every once in a while, but I prefer my chocolate to be the real deal these days.

In my dream world, theyd hand out 100g bars of Whittakers artisan dark chocolate with Hawkes Bay black doris plums and roasted almonds, but Id happily scoff a peanut slab. Or, in summer, the new peanut slab ice cream. If theyre going to hand out Cookie Times though they should at least contain chocolate the shortbread version just cannot compare.

Rating: 6/10

A longstanding favourite (or perhaps thats just because they were one of only two snack options for many years), the corn chips are an inoffensive snack - unless youre trying to concentrate and other passengers are noisily chomping their way through them. The Air New Zealand version is on the bland side, but that does mean kids and fussy eaters can enjoy them too. It would be nice if they were served with a dip though say some salsa and or guacamole.

Rating: 7/10

They do offer a taste of the Pacific, but theyre not very filling. Plus you inevitably end up covered in microscopic crumbs.

Rating: 5/10

Craig Simcox/Stuff

Bliss balls or bites are a wholesome sweet treat.

I have special food needs (Im gluten- and mostly dairy-free), so being offered a snack like this on board would come as a welcome relief. Made with real fruit and nuts, these wholesome sweet treats are just the right pick-me-up for a short flight. All were doing is sitting down, so were probably better off without the unhealthy fat-laden cookies and chips.

Rating: 9/10

This unusually flavoured ice cream was trialled on board last year, but sadly didnt make the final cut, although the airline has said it could make surprise appearances. I say sadly because I was a big fan when I tried it for the first time on a flight from Auckland to Christchurch last June. Rich, slightly chewy and not overly sweet, it went down a treat. Until my guts began to grumble - ah the joys of lactose intolerance. A vegan coconut-based ice cream would be an amazing alternative.

Rating: 8/10


The airline hopes to be able to showcase more New Zealand products on its in-flight snack menu.

Having a fresh fruit option is great, but mandarins arent a personal fave and the smell of their peels can be pungent. Kiwifruit might have been more apt, but passengers would probably drip sticky juice on the seats. Bite-sized kiwiberries would be a great alternative. Mandarins, I have to admit, are easier to eat and far more cost-effective. Although keeping it local and seasonal would be nice.

Rating: 7/10

These chocolate-filled pastries went down a treat when offered one Mothers Day, so heres hoping they make a comeback. Made with croissant-like layered dough, theyll make you feel like youre on a flight to France rather than Whaktane.

Rating: 10/10

I havent tried these plant-based meal replacements so am unqualified to rate them, but they sound like a good idea in theory. Made in New Zealand with natural ingredients, theyre said to be high in protein and fibre and contain seven vitamins and three minerals. A nice option to have on hand when youre trying to be healthy. But do we really need to replace an entire meal on a short domestic flight?

Rating: You tell me

Made in Nelson from locally grown potatoes, these are about as healthy as chips are going to get. Theres an excellent range, including kmara, Marlborough sea salt, free-range sage and onion, and chilli and lime-spiked corn tortillas. Stuff Travel news director Juliette Sivertsen describes them as crunchy, flaky, salty, light and essentially delicious. Just be prepared to need to follow them with a large cup of water.

Rating: 9/10

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Cheesegate 2.0? Air New Zealand to switch up cheese and crackers in Koru Hour - Stuff

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