Summer holidays have a lot of great things going for them, but the food might be the best. From stone fruit to crayfish, indulgent cheeses to incredible icecreams, here are some of our favourite Kiwi flavours to find this summer - right from the source.
Crayfish - Kaikōura
Family-owned since the 1970s, Nin's Bin is the cute wee caravan perched on the side of the road just metres from Kaikōura's beach. It's one of a number of seafood caravans dotted down the coast, and crayfish are the order of the day here. All caught - and then cooked - fresh, priced by weight, and then enjoyed on the beach, it must be the best place to taste this Kiwi classic.
Nin's Bin, SH1, Kaikōura
Cheese - Whangārei
If you wander through a bakery in the middle of Whangārei, you'll stumble on a dairy-lover's dream scenario. Grinning Gecko Cheese are specialists in soft cheeses, with an award-winning brie, camembert, and kau piro that are especially special. Made the same day as the milk from a local farm is, well, milked, it is the definition of fresh. Visitors to the factory can watch the cheese being made (and get a cheeky taste), or simply stock up on some favourites to take home.
Grinning Gecko Cheese, 81 Port Rd, Whangārei
Cider - Hawke's Bay
Zeffer Cider are at the top of their game. Their craft cider (often with a Kiwi twist) is highly regarded, with all the awards, bells and whistles you'd expect from industry leaders who know exactly how to use those Hawke's Bay apples. Now with a new taproom and bar open to the public you can try everything from their cult classic Apple Crumble Cider to limited seasonal releases pouring fresh from the source. Fill your own flagon, or enjoy a flight of their handmade, small-batch cider in the sun overlooking the orchard. Zeffer Cider, 1747 Korokipo Rd, RD 3, Fernhill, Hastings
Icecream - Hawke's Bay
Founded in 1926, Rush Munro is New Zealand's oldest, award-winning, premium icecream maker. And history is still important to the team, who use the same traditional methods and recipes inherited from founder Frederick Rush Munro all those years ago. For an added trip down memory lane, they serve the public from the icecream garden site in Hastings, where Munro first started the whole tasty journey. Rush Munro, 704 Heretaunga St West, Hastings
Honey - Palmerston North
From the familiar buzz of the worker bees, to the sweet taste, the honey produced at Waireka Honey is unmissable. After learning how it all gets made, and taking a peek into the live observation hive, satisfy your taste buds with their legendary honey-based icecreams, fruity wines, honey meads or lollies.
Waireka Honey, Cnr State Highway 1 and Rongotea Rd, Palmerston North
Cream horns - Sanson
Sure, they might not be a naturally occurring gift from the gods, but the cream horns from Viv's Kitchen are a heavenly treat. The cute 50s style diner has sold more than 100,000 of the delicious pastry cornucopia, filled with fresh cream and sweet jam, making it a real Kiwi treasure worth stopping for this summer. Viv's Kitchen, 9 Dundas Rd (Main Rd) Ohakea End, Sanson.
Mussels - Havelock
Mills Bay Mussels say they are on a mission to spread happiness with their New Zealand Greenshell Mussels. That must make their base in Havelock, in the Marlborough Sounds, one of the best places to be. From their tasting room, in the Havelock Marina just in front of the packhouse, visitors can eat the freshest mussels around, which would make anyone smile. Mills Bay Mussels, 23a Inglis St, Havelock.
Cheese - Mercer
Using traditional Dutch recipes, local and fresh milk is transformed into unforgettable cheese at Mercer Cheese. Blink and you might miss it, the Mercer Cheese Shop is, in fact, an iconic stop and certainly somewhere worth popping in to stock up on delicious cheese packed with flavours. They were recently awarded the Chef's Choice Special Award in 2020 for their Mercer Fifty Fifty cheese.
Mercer Cheese Shop, Roose Rd, Mercer.
Jam - Roxburgh
Fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade jams and chutneys, juicy preserves, free-range eggs, dried fruit, nuts and more. Johnsons Cottage is one of those places that do the classics well. The family-run orchard has been growing fruit for 100 years and knows how to use the whole of their crops, from juicy, fresh apricots, to mouth-watering jam and preserves with what's left over.
Johnsons Cottage, 217 Scotland St, Roxburgh
Salmon - Nelson
It's almost impossible to taste anything fresher than salmon you've caught yourself. Anatoki Salmon in Golden Bay lets you do exactly that. They'll supply the lake, the gear - and the fish. All you have to do is cast your line and have some patience. When you reel in the big one, the kitchen will prepare your salmon for you - fresh or smoked - leaving you to find the perfect spot to enjoy the eating.
Anatoki Salmon, 230 McCallum Rd, Tākaka, Golden Bay
Strawberries - Auckland
Strawberries mark the start of summer, and there's nothing better than going out with a sunhat and picking bucket loads of them. There are a handful of great places to go and pick your own around Auckland, including
Phil Greig Strawberry Gardens in Kumeu; Hellensville's Sweet Red Gourmet; Zaberri in Riverhead; and The Troost Family Strawberry Fields near Coatesville.
Macadamias - Coromandel
Cathedral Cove Macadamias have a bit of everything for visitors: tranquil, organic orchards perfect for picnics, plucky chickens, goats who like to be patted, and of course a chance to taste delicious, decadent macadamia nuts, made into all sorts of treats such as dukkah, oil, coated in chocolate or simply left to shine au natural.
Cathedral Cove Macadamias, 335 Lees Rd, Whitianga.
Icecream - Hamilton
Anyone lucky enough to have tasted Duck Island's icecream range knows how special it is. Handcrafted in the Waikato, the flavours can often change daily, ranging from the classics through to roasted miso and white chocolate or bourbon brown butter pecan. Duck Island, which also has stores in Auckland and Wellington, use fresh, seasonal ingredients, and offer lots of vegan and gluten and dairy-free options.
Duck Island, Cnr Cook and Grey Streets, Hamilton
Cherries - Cromwell
Opening again in November, just in time for the start of arguably the best fruit season, Cheeki Cherries and Dam Good Fruit grow 20 varieties of cherries and when you visit, you can get your hands dirty and pick your own to take home with you. The orchard also grows Central Otago classics like apricots, peaches, nectarines, and berries which are tree ripened, picked daily and mouth-wateringly good.
Dam Good Fruit, 216 Ripponvale Rd, Cromwell
Oysters - Clevedon
It's hard to think of anything more satisfying than a fresh oyster. Clevedon Coast Oysters have been growing these little treasures for more than 30 years in the clean, clear waters of the Hauraki Gulf. At their shop on the coast, you can pick up a dozen (or more), as well as an array of other oyster-y treats like pies, soup, and pate. During the weekends, you can enjoy even more dishes at their food galley, open 10am-4pm.
Clevedon Coast Oysters, 914 Clevedon-Kawakawa Rd, Papakura, Auckland
Beer - Dunedin
Dunedin is one of the birthplaces of Kiwi beer, so it would be rude not to stop by and sample some of the best. Emerson's run daily tours, taking visitors through every step of the brew process, from the malt room, to the fermentation, bottling, and most importantly, tasting. If your whistle is still not wet enough, the city has lots of other fabulous beer spots to check out, including the Speight's brewery, Arc Brewery and Noisy Brewing.
Emerson's, 70 Anzac Ave, Dunedin
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com