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Travel

Delicious memories: Eating our way around New Zealand

NZ Herald
By: Nicholas Jones, Dan Ahwa, Stacey Hunt, Andrew Alderson, Tracey Bond, Miriyana Alexander, Helen van Berkel, Juliette Sivertsen, Angela Casley

Our writers share their favourite memories of drinking and dining in New Zealand.

Whitebait pizza from Fat Pipi Pizzas, Hokitika. Photo / Supplied
Whitebait pizza from Fat Pipi Pizzas, Hokitika. Photo / Supplied

Fat Pipi Pizzas

89 Revell St, Hokitika

We were on honeymoon and had hopped the Cook Strait with a car and tent in the back. The pancake rocks at Punakaiki were rammed with overseas tourists despite squalls of rain, but we found peace further down the coast at Fat Pipi Pizzas, near the mouth of the Hokitika river and by the driftwood spelling out the town's name. Recommended by a colleague who knows his food and drink, this was one of many bright spots on the itinerary: fresh pizza base topped with an obscene amount of whitebait, folded into egg and with garlic butter, mozzarella and capers. We added the Mariner (fish, shrimps, mussels, salmon, red onion and more capers), and a couple of beers. Lunch was served in a sun-filled rear garden, looking towards the beach and Tasman.
— Nicholas Jones

Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown: So fancy. Photo / Supplied
Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown: So fancy. Photo / Supplied

Matakauri Lodge

569 Glenorchy Road, Queenstown 9348

There really is no place like home when it comes to our fresh food and wine, and one of my most memorable holiday dining experiences was four years ago at Matakauri Lodge in Queenstown, in a private dining room space called the Library overlooking the sprawling panorama of Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and The Remarkables. Yes so fancy (and definitely not an everyday occurrence), but sometimes such experiences can teeter between overcomplicated and perfection. This experience was the latter — the best wines from Otago matched with a five-course tasting menu including Kingfish sashimi, comforting celeriac risotto, tender smoked back strap, and a delicious rosemary broth — total fine dining at its best — made even more special as the sun set behind the peaks.
— Dan Ahwa

Cycling among the vines of the Martinborough vineyards. Photo / Jet Productions
Cycling among the vines of the Martinborough vineyards. Photo / Jet Productions

Colombo

107 Todds Road, Ponatahi 5784

Any sunny day spent sipping rosé in the sun is a good day in my books but one particular summer weekend, among the vines of my favourite Martinborough vineyard, will always have a place close to my heart.

Celebrating the arrival of the newest and littlest addition to our group, we gathered from around NZ at Colombo Martinborough to "wet the baby's head" I guess you could say. The sun-soaked day filled with chilled glasses of Colombo's delicious wines, long-awaited catch ups with friends and baby cuddles was topped off with live music from Shaun Preston on his baby grand piano and a visit from Mr Whippy.
— Stacey Hunt

Blue Door Bar, Arrowtown: Narnia-like apres-ski. Photo / isabellarubiephotography
Blue Door Bar, Arrowtown: Narnia-like apres-ski. Photo / isabellarubiephotography

The Blue Door

18 Buckingham Street, Arrowtown 9302

A PC* day on the Coronet Peak piste, a film at Arrowtown's Dorothy Browns cinema, a schist-clad B&B walking distance away… Hang on, what's the hum behind that paint-ravaged blue door?

The portal creaked open and we slipped into an apres-ski Narnia of leather armchairs, soft-lit timber beams, and a roaring log fire. "What tipple would you like?" the barman asked. "A craft beer, a mulled wine or an alpine cocktail?" Nestled down a lane off the main street, The Blue Door delivered the craic required to rest muscles after channelling our inner Alberto Tomba and Lindsey Vonn up the mountain. Skipping into the night we had learned a lesson: never judge a bar by its entrance.*Pre-Children
— Andrew Alderson

The Miner's Cottage

Kyeburn-Hyde Road, Tiroiti 9397

One of my most memorable meals was not at some swanky restaurant but during a stay at an old miner's hut in Tiroiti, after a day of cycling the Otago Rail Trail.

Surrounded by beautiful gardens and framed by grape vines, our picture-perfect stone cottage was miles from anywhere, so our hosts prepared a home-cooked meal. After working up an appetite, hiking the water races used for gold mining and stumbling upon ancient moa bones, we returned to Vivien's divine chicken casserole, green beans fresh from the garden and plum crumble with icecream. We ate in front of a roaring fire in silent appreciation. It was the perfect meal for the last night of an epic cycle trip.
—Tracey Bond

Nins Bin, Kaikoura: Silky perfection. Photo / Graeme Murray
Nins Bin, Kaikoura: Silky perfection. Photo / Graeme Murray

Nins Bin

Half Moon Bay 7371

I cried all the way from Timaru to Kaikoura. Three hundred-plus kilometres of snot and sobbing.

It was 1996 and I was heading north, moving away from my beloved South Island for the first time. Nothing against Wellington. I was desperate for a slice of big-city action, but leaving behind those vast South Canterbury skies and a happy life was a surprising wrench.

My life was packed into my trusty Honda Civic and I had a ferry to catch. But just past Kaikoura, the perfect way to farewell the south presented itself. Nins Bin.
The crayfish was wrapped in newspaper. It was sweet, silky perfection.
The sun came out, the mighty Pacific glittered and the South Island had never been lovelier. It was goodbye, and hello.
— Miriyana Alexander

The Copthorne Hotel, Bay of Islands

1 Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi 0293

One of the most scenic pub crawls possible is a coast-to-coast bus trip from Omapere in the Hokianga to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. Get a bunch of mates, hire a bus and a sober driver, apologise to your liver and start your day with a pre-breakfast beer at the Copthorne Hotel. A whistle-blowing bride-to-be kept us in disorder: that whistle meant finish your glass and race back to the bus. Last one on, of course, has to drink. Along the way, call in at a collection of beautiful old Kiwi pubs in historic townships and see some of the best landscapes the country has to offer.
— Helen van Berkel

Super Restaurant

5 Norwich Quay, Lyttelton 8082

It was the first weekend of Level 3. After a month of being stuck inside, Twitter was awash with talk of takeaways and KFC. But my heart was set on a different type of KFC — a Karaage Fried Chicken burger from Japanese restaurant Super, in Lyttelton. There was just one problem — a body of water separated me in my lockdown abode in Diamond Harbour from the restaurant. So we texted them and they offered to deliver our meals via the 6.50pm ferry and we just needed to pick up from the wharf. The karaage chicken burgers came with fries, and we ordered gyoza with chilli oil and a decadent miso chocolate torte for dessert. Takeaways have never tasted so luxurious.
— Juliette Sivertsen

A scrumptious, sweet energy boost on the Old Ghost Road. Photo / Sven Mar
A scrumptious, sweet energy boost on the Old Ghost Road. Photo / Sven Mar

The Ghost Lake Hut

Old Ghost Road, Mokihinui 7891

Rugged, challenging and as remote as you can get, cycling The Old Ghost Road on the South Island's west coast is the most epic ride I have done to date in New Zealand.

Travelling with minimal gear for a night in the wilderness, day one was a 24-kilometre climb to the Ghost Lake hut. We wound our way through trees and bush, up, up, up ... Navigating the steepest of climbs, lugging our bikes over boulders, balancing along the single track, up, up, up ... And then suddenly, we burst on to the ridge-top that pierced
the brilliant blue sky. The view, incredible. Lunch — a panini stuffed with ham, halloumi, gruyere cheese and loads of crunchy iceberg lettuce — the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted. With two hours still to cycle before we made the hut, the surprise homemade flapjacks were a scrumptious sweet energy boost. You don't get much closer to heaven than this.
— Angela Casley