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A project has me based in the Southern Lakes district for a little while, and that means I'm full of the joys of winter. I am invigorated by the majestic landscapes, the quality of the local produce, the passionate people who produce it and by Mainlanders in general — who certainly know how to keep warm and well fed. Roasts, casseroles, soups, sticky puddings and this who-cares-about-the-calories cheese fondue are on the menu at home.

The menus at the cafes and restaurants are also receiving a lot of my attention. They lack for nothing down here — the local Wanaka New World stocks the freshest southern blue cod, the gooey-est Whitestone Lindis Pass Camembert, the creamiest Pure New Zealand Ice Cream, Cardrona merino lamb, Prophet's Rock riesling ... it's my idea of heaven.

They do good pies down here and it's hard to beat the pork belly, apple sauce and crackling pie from the Fairlie Bakehouse on the roast from Christchurch to Wanaka but Geoff Scott's recipes for smoked fish pie, mince and cheese party pies and beef, bacon and mushroom pie might just do it. We've been dining at Sherwood Queenstown and Mt Difficulty in Bannockburn and popping in for some apres ski fireside at Rippon.