I travelled to every region in New Zealand: Here is the best food I ate – Stuff.co.nz

Posted: January 3, 2022 at 2:08 am

Happy New Year, lets start the diet.

Well, hold on a moment. Since Covid-19 hit, weve explored our backyard in huge numbers, taking our friends and family on holiday. But what could 2022 bring?

Perhaps its time to take someone a little closer to home on holiday: your taste buds.

In the past two years, since the borders shut, I've travelled to every region in New Zealand on the hunt for some of the best things to eat. Often, it was love at first bite heres what you have to try.

READ MORE:* Live video chat: How to make a living from full-time travel* 12 amazing places in New Zealand to visit before the border opens* Secrets of the Central North Island

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Pua pies at the Container Cafe.

On the windy road to Cape Reinga, you'll find a pastry-filled Nirvana. It's called the Container Cafe, and it has more than 200 five-star Google reviews for a reason. Here you'll find a kaleidoscope of different pie flavours, including its legendary pua pies.

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Sneaky Snacky serves some of the best burgers in Auckland.

A fine-dining chef has turned his hat to burgers, creating one of the best joints in town. Sneaky Snacky, on K-Road, serves glazed doughnut burgers that are works of art.

The Juicy Lucy, for example, has delicious beef flavoured with a beef consomm, bone marrow sauce, and a Cheetos crumble. The patties are created in a way that has a molten cheese ball inside them, which bursts open when you eat it.

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Zealong Teas tasting experience.

On the outskirts of Hamilton you'll find the country's only organic tea plantation.

Zealong Tea has a restaurant nestled among 1.2 million tea plants, where you can experience high tea, alongside a tea tasting ceremony.

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Smores at Wairua Lodge.

The best thing we tried in Coromandel was at one of our favourite places to relax: Wairua Lodge.

You'll find it 20 minutes outside Whitianga, where a series of hotel rooms are tucked away in the bush, alongside a treehouse bath, a star spa for watching the Milky Way, and a firepit for creating fresh s'mores (you'll be provided with the ingredients).

Watching the stars while chewing on melted chocolate biscuits is bliss.

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CBK Craft Bar and Kitchen has a famous cookie skillet.

On Rotorua's famous Eat Street, you'll find one of the city's best sweet treats.

CBK Craft Bar and Kitchen serves a hot gooey cookie skillet topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

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You can bring whatever food youd like on a doughboat.

The most unusual place we've eaten is floating in a giant doughnut on Lake Taup.

Doughboats are, as their name suggests, a giant doughnut-shaped boat with a table in the middle and a cabana for shade. Grab a group of up to six friends or family and set off with your small electric motor around the lake. Grab a Greedy Pizza for the ride.

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Dinner is served atop a remote hill at Blue Duck Station.

One of the best dining experiences in the country is where you would least expect it: on top of a remote hill, deep in the Ruapehu hinterland.

The Chef's Table is like a journey to the dining equivalent of heaven. You first need to drive to the remote Blue Duck Station, before ascending a mountain in an off-road vehicle to a hilltop off-grid restaurant. There you will be served a 11-course degustation, prepared with fresh ingredients from the farm. Expect dishes to delight and surprise such as aged venison finished with manuka smoke, elderberries, hazelnuts and 90 per cent dark chocolate. Theyre all presented so well you almost dont want to eat them.

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Bobby's Central Fish Market serves exceptional fish and chips.

Hello fish and chip lovers this one is for you. Bobby's Central Fish Market in Tauranga has the freshest fish in the city. How fresh? Well, the shop is perched on a wharf right next to where the fishing boats dock. Chances are your meal would have been swimming around that morning, making it the best fish and chips in the region.

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Gisbornes GEM Cuisine serves a tasty breakfast burger.

Some of Tairwhitis best food can be found at the Gisborne Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings. There you'll find GEM Cuisine, which serves Rarotongan-style doughnuts. Don't miss the breakfast doughnut, filled with creamy mushrooms, cheese, hashbrown, bacon and a gooey fried egg.

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The food at Hawkes Bays Wallingford is hard to beat.

Make the journey to a remote Hawke's Bay retreat for an exceptional feast by an award-winning chef.

Wallingford is an enormous villa steeped in history and home to acclaimed chef Chris Stockdale. His eight-course degustation (which can be paired with wine) is some of the best food you will try such as an organic duck egg that'd been cooked for an hour, 'ice and fire' trevally and a white chocolate and chamomile dessert, which was like eating a luxurious Milky Bar.

New Plymouth is home to Ozone Coffee, born in the city more than 20 years ago. The coffee is legendary and best tried at its Taranaki HQ where they have perfected the art of excellent flavour over decades.

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The Whanganui Farmers' Market is always full of fun.

The Whanganui Farmers' Market has more than 100 stalls so arrive hungry for your Saturday morning feast. We found everything from caramel cinnamon rolls, handmade pies, and old-fashioned doughnuts.

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Palmerston Norths Blue Acres Blueberries lets you pick by the kilogram.

Half an hour from Palmerston North is berry heaven. At Blue Acres Blueberries, you can pick your own straight from the plant for $9 a kilogram.

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The truffles at Schoc Chocolates are some of the best Ive tried.

Greytown's Schoc Chocolates has more than 60 flavours, including lime and chilli, rose chocolate, Earl Grey tea, apricot and rosemary, geranium, fennel, and a few unusual ones like curry and papadums.

Too much to choose? You can try any flavour for free to help you decide.

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Fix and Foggs toast is delicious its hard to look at regular toast the same.

Fix and Fogg is the capital's artisan peanut butter maker, and the company has a hole in the wall eatery in Hannah's Laneway.

Their Black Forest Toast is like an edible piece of art. It has dark chocolate peanut butter, banana, cacao granola, freeze-dried strawberries and wildberry jam.

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A cheeseburger doughnut at The Smoking Barrel.

The Tasman town of Motueka is becoming famous for its doughnuts. The Smoking Barrel sells 300-500 a day, with flavours ranging from R18 Naughty Snickers with bourbon salted caramel, Bounty Bar, vanilla creme brulee, Caramilk deluxe, and salted caramel popcorn to name a few.

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A wine and cheese picnic at Clos Henri Vineyard.

If you love wine and cheese, the French-inspired Clos Henri Vineyard is a must-visit.

Have a picnic among the vines next to a 100-year-old chapel where you can do a tasting accompanied by local cheese. You need to book ahead, as tastings are by appointment only.

For some of the freshest crayfish in Kaikura, stop in at Karaka Lobster.

The shop is a 35-minute drive north of the township and serves dishes with fresh seafood straight from the local fishing fleet.

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The meals at Black Estate are sourced from local ingredients and you can have truffle added to almost anything.

This region is full of underrated vineyards, and one such place is Black Estate. Not only is the wine sensational, but they have an award-winning restaurant that worships the truffle.

During the local truffle season, which is around June to August, almost any dish can have fresh truffle added, carved by a white-gloved waiter, straight onto the plate. Fresh lamb and truffle are a sensational mix, alongside homemade ciabatta and delicious truffle butter.


Hokitika Sandwich Company has quickly become a West Coast institution.

The West Coast is renowned for its magnificent natural beauty, but it's also fast becoming known for its incredible sandwiches.

The Hokitika Sandwich Company (which also recently opened a store in Christchurch) offers New York-style sandwiches with fresh local ingredients, such as free-range meats, South Island cheeses, organic greens and homemade sauces.

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The fried chicken at the Pink Lady rooftop lounge.

For the best views and fried chicken in town, head to the top floor of the Muse Hotel, where you'll find The Pink Lady rooftop lounge. It has a wide range of craft beers, wine and cocktails don't go past the fried chicken with "bang bang" sauce.

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Fairlie pies are as good as they look.

State Pieway One passes right through the Mackenzie town of Fairlie, where you'll find the Fairlie Bakehouse. This is home to the country's best pies, such as the pork belly pie with apple sauce and crackling.

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Strawberry Divine has a wide selection of flavours.

One of the best fresh fruit icecreams we've ever tried can be found just outside Timaru at Strawberry Divine.

They source a wide selection of local fruit and transform it into an edible piece of art right in front of you.

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The Lawrence Mint is a perfect stop for those who have a sweet tooth.

Forget the gold rush; in the tiny Central Otago town of Lawrence, a chocolate rush is underway. The Lawrence Mint feels like you're stepping into a European candy shop with some delicious classics like mint patties and rocky road. Make sure to try the cheesecake - it's a local favourite.

If you're after a healthier alternative to Fergburger, try Bespoke Kitchen.

Here you'll find delicious hemp power smoothies filled with chocolate, banana and the best coconut whip it's a vegan alternative to cream.

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Coffee Afloat is found halfway along the Lake Dunstan Trail.

The country's newest cycle trail follows the steep Cromwell Gorge, with a series of spectacular platforms strapped to cliffs.

It's a remote ride along the lake, which makes finding a floating coffee cart and burger bar all the more incredible. Coffee Afloat and Burger Afloat only operate if the weather permits so check their social media platforms before you decide to go looking for them (they're found halfway along the trail).

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Harbour Street Bakerys cronuts are divine.

The cronut (half croissant, half doughnut) was invented by the famous New York chef Dominique Ansel. I've been lucky enough to taste the original, but I liked one in amaru even better.

Everything at Harbour Street Bakery is made by hand, with traditional tools where possible. The cronut had a sweet, flaky pastry that gave way to a soft chewy centre filled with passion fruit coulis and thick vanilla custard. You won't want to share this one.

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Dinner is served in a grand dining room at Larnach Castle.


I travelled to every region in New Zealand: Here is the best food I ate - Stuff.co.nz

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