Lyn Gee does not want the location of his favourite mushroom patch divulged.
"Don't tell anyone where you took photos," he says.
"No. Don't you dare," says wife Kay laughing.
In late autumn and early winter, Kay and Lyn Gee leave their Hastings home on their bikes every day in fair weather, scouring orchard roadsides for wild mushrooms.
"We fry them up in butter," says Kay.
"It has been beautiful weather this year - just been amazing - and I think the sky is so blue because we're not getting the haze we were getting a couple of years ago. So the sky is just amazing.
"So blue. Beautiful.
"We bike around and look - you can't see them when driving.
The retired couple's search takes them as far as Napier, 20km away. But the riding and gathering is only part of their fair-weather ritual.
"We have a beer each, sit outside in the sun and peel mushrooms."
She said they haven't encountered anyone else foraging for mushrooms.
"There may be, but we don't know if they're collecting mushrooms or not. No one would tell you - it's a secret."
While foraging is a retirement hobby for the Gees, Heta Edwards has been foraging watercress since he was 7.
He's the wild green's biggest fan and has researched it for horticultural studies.
"It contains more iron than spinach and it is extremely high in vitamin K, anti-oxidants and it even has therapeutic properties," he says while standing beside his station wagon loaded with the green.
Foraging for watercress has become a part-time job for Edwards, supplying local marae with the traditional food which only grows in flowing water.
"Māori are predominantly my customers. I get the odd European, the odd Indian, the odd Islander.
"What people don't know is watercress was introduced to New Zealand in the early 1800s when New Zealand's dairy farm industry was booming.
"After that they introduced cattle cress. I don't know why, watercress is edible, cattle cress is not."
While they look similar, a quick taste test easily tells them apart, with raw watercress having a peppery flavour after a few seconds chewing.
"You cook it in your traditional boil-up with any meat, fresh vegetables. Watercress you usually put in last.
"You can have it in a hāngi. Watercress is a good substitute for any spinach or lettuce or cabbage-type meals.
"You could have it just as a side dish, you could have it in a Marmite sandwich, you could puree it, put it somewhere to cool and bring it out as a shot at one of your pool parties.
"Watercress is actually very, very versatile."
He also forages for puha and food left to rot by farmers.
"Sometimes the squash people have already harvested their squash, so I can get some squash, some corn, maybe some onions - you know just if I'm lucky - but I'm mainly looking for watercress, puha."
He says five varieties of watercress were introduced to New Zealand in the 1800s, to enable dairy cows to graze streamsides.
Four varieties are European and one Japanese.
"Hawke's Bay is one of only three places you can get the five varieties.
"That Japanese variety is the gourmet - that's what you'll see on My Kitchen Rules or in restaurants."
World cheese expert Juliet Harbutt takes tours for foodies to Hawke's Bay growers, but with an addiction to foraging, she keeps an opportunistic eye off the beaten track for "what we can gather and pick".
"For example pink peppercorns - a huge number of peppercorn trees in Hawke's Bay - and then sometimes mushrooms, sometimes watercress, sometimes walnuts.
"There are loads of old walnut trees in Hawke's Bay which were obviously planted by the early settlers - which are minding their own business.
"I have been known to lean over the odd fence and get the odd apple, but also what I love is if you collect the windfalls.
"There are so many windfalls and often once they finish picking the apples.
"There are lots of apples rejected by the supermarkets just because they are too small or they're not red all over and they are often the most delicious."
Foraged food is a regular part of her diet.
"When I pick the wild spinach out at the beach I make the most delicious spinach soup, with the walnuts making a really lovely salad with blue cheese.
"The pink peppercorns add a sweet rosey flavour to what you're cooking."
Harbutt says anyone can forage, with the hunt as satisfying as the meal.
"I guess it is just the excitement of finding a new tree with something growing on it like some persimmons or finding a pomegranate tree I saw hanging over someone's garden one day.
"I love the excitement of finding new things."
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