Daniel Scott tramps along the Norfolk coast with the help of a flying Kiwi.

You could say that my walk along the 68km Norfolk coastal path is one long stagger from historic pub to pub. Although there are sweeping beaches, saltmarshes in which to plunge thigh-deep, and time-warped seaside towns it is in the country inns that I find succour, nourishment and a place to lay my wind-burned head at night.

Two overnight stops come courtesy of Chris Coubrough, a television chef who has gone from growing up on a remote North Island farm near Hamilton to launching a one-man Kiwi invasion of Norfolk pubs.

The small chain of Flying Kiwi Inns that he owns have three elements in common: luxurious, family-friendly accommodation and quality food in historic buildings. Oh, and quality local ale.

"All the pubs were bankrupt when I took them on," says Coubrough when I join him for a Railway Sleeper ale at The Ship Hotel at Brancaster, just behind the northern Norfolk coast.


"This place was disgusting when we bought it, but it's a 400-year-old building and I thought we could do something with it.

"We Kiwis have a can-do attitude that isn't that prevalent among Brits.

"We've added value to each pub we've taken on with food and accommodation."

Coubrough, in his early 40s, is laid back but frighteningly focused to meet, a quality that helped him through an early career cooking in Michelin-starred restaurants in Switzerland and at Fredericks in Islington, London, favourite haunt of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Then, as Coubrough considered returning to New Zealand, needing £400 ($830) for the one-way flight, he spotted an ad for a sous chef in the Suffolk seaside town of Southwold, paying £400.

"I meant to stay a month and ended up being there 10 years," he says.

It was towards the end of his stint in Southwold that Coubrough began to build his East Anglian Kiwi outpost. First up, in 2002, was The Crown Hotel at Wells-next-the-Sea, my second overnight stop.

"Pubs here were quite beer-orientated back then," says Coubrough.

"But coming from New Zealand where food and wine is also on offer, it seemed obvious to add them. "I'd cook while my wife worked out front and it just took off."

A parallel career doing cooking demos in supermarkets led to Coubrough being talent-spotted for Coastal Kitchen, an ITV food show.

As his profile grew so did his stable of pubs.

Staying at The Ship Hotel it's the friendly service I notice, as the staff deal with a day-long power cut. Sure, after tramping 27km I could do with a hot bath but several potent ales from the local Humpty Dumpty Brewery soon induce a feeling of wellbeing rather than of having fallen off a wall.

Dinner is the biggest hunk of haddock I've seen on a plate, with chunky chips.

"I come from a family background of growing, nurturing and butchering everything," says Coubrough, "and I still want to create wholesome food using the best local ingredients.

"Norfolk oysters are among the best in the world and we have fabulous crab, lobster, cockles, whelk and haddock, sea bass and mackerel."

Retiring to my Ship Hotel room I find it bright and spacious and, to the delight of those who've had to endure my pong, I finally get to have that bath in the en suite.

Without the sustenance available from the Flying Kiwi Inns I'd have struggled to make it all the way along the glorious northern Norfolk coast.

On my final night I crash out in more splendour in a king-sized, four-poster bed at The Crown Hotel.

But first I enjoy an evening in the bar among local lifeboatmen and farmers, and discover that Coubrough's English wife is also in on his act, brewing boutique beer, Jo C's Norfolk Ale, available on tap here.

The liveliest drop?

"The Norfolk Kiwi", named, she says, "after my husband, who can often be seen sporting the quintessential Kiwi attire of green Swanndri and gumboots while driving around in a ute full of wood."

Getting there: Air New Zealand flies daily from Auckland to London. Train services to Norfolk take about three hours.