While most of the country's attention has been focused on a certain team in Japan, Linda Meads has been thinking about 15 star players at home
Unless you're arguing with someone from across the Tasman about pavlova, trying to explain New Zealand cuisine to anyone not from our fair land poses a few challenges. We don't exactly have dishes that have been adopted around the world such as curries or fresh spring rolls but what we do excel at, however, is classic Kiwi food and beverage experiences throughout our bountiful islands from top to toe. Here are 15 of the best.
1. Eat fish 'n' chips on the Mangonui Wharf
It's worth delaying lunch or dinner until you arrive at the iconic Mangonui Fish Shop just off SH10 in Northland; this Kiwi classic next to Mangonui Wharf, which specialises in sustainable line-caught fish, has been serving up some of the country's freshest fish 'n' chips for more than 70 years. mangonuifishshop.com
2. Dine or taste wine at Black Estate Winery
New Zealand is heaving with world-class wineries and one of our favourites is Black Estate Winery in Waipara. This picturesque family-run operation produces premium pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling from its three organic vineyards at Omihi and serves a locally sourced organic lunch menu in the architecturally designed building that houses both its restaurant and cellar door. Blackestate.co.nz
3. Eat an award-winning bakery pie
TAURANGA, BETHLEHEM, ROTORUA
Kiwi baker Patrick Lam's pies are so good that he's taken out the title for that nation's Best Pie for seven years running, and you can try one of his masterpieces at Patrick's Pies Gold Star Bakery in Tauranga and Bethlehem and Rotorua - we'd recommend the mince and cheese. 695/663 State Hwy, Tauriko, Tauranga; 19 Bethlehem Rd, Bethlehem; 89 Old Taupo Rd, Mangakakahi, Rotorua
4. Run the gamut at the Wildfoods Festival
If the likes of lamb testicles, snails, huhu grubs and dried deer pizzles washed down with a glass of deer semen piques your interest, add the annual Hokitika Wildfoods Festival to your agenda. This March festival attracts more than 50 stallholders serving up the weird and wonderful alongside more traditional fare such as wild pork and venison. wildfoods.co.nz
Back in the middle of nowhere - where real life really happens
5. Sip a beer from the tap at Garage Project's cellar door
Wellington is New Zealand's craft beer capital and you can visit the headquarters of one of the industry's game-changers housed in a former petrol station in the Aro Valley. Garage Project's Aro Cellar Door offers free tastings from a line-up of eight taps and sells beer to takeaway; across the road at its 91 Aro Taproom there are 18 taps that change out weekly. garageproject.co.nz
6. Down a few oysters from Bluff
Our most revered shellfish, known for their intense flavour and meaty flesh, come from the icy stretch of water between the South and Stewart Islands, Foveaux Strait, though you'll find them in restaurants and supermarkets all over the country during their harvesting season from March to August. Bluff.co.nz/oystering
7. Go berry picking
ALL OVER NZ
One for the bucket, one for you … a great Kiwi summer tradition is to get along to one of the many berry farms around the country and pick your own strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and more. Eat fresh or to make into jams and the like.
8. Tuck away a Denheath custard square
The unique fluffy high-rise gourmet custard squares that became a national sensation at a small-town South Canterbury cafe in the 1990s are now mass produced at a factory in Timaru and the good news is that you can now find them all over New Zealand. Denheath.co.nz
9. Try a hangi
Sample kai cooked in the traditional Maori way at a hangi in the Kiwi cultural hub of Rotorua. This method of preparing food sees baskets of food buried on top of a wood fire topped with stones in an earth oven for three hours, which gives it a delicious flavour of smoked wood.
10. Scoff a cheese roll
You'll only find this simple delicacy in New Zealand's far south where the locals have created an iconic and much adored snack from a slab of white bread slathered with a creamy cheese filling, then rolled, secured with a toothpick and baked for around 10 minutes.
11. Order a flat white in Cuba St
You can get amazing coffee from almost every cafe in Wellington - the capital prides itself on delivering the perfect brew. On the hipster Cuba St strip you'll find cafes that have been serving the city's caffiends for decades including the legendary Fidel's (234 Cuba). Wellingtonnz.com
12. Invite yourself to a barbecue
ALL OVER NZ
There's nothing Kiwis love better than descending on someone's backyard and standing around drinking rosé and icy beers while a bevvy of blokes (sexist but accurate) supervise the cooking of bangers, burger patties, fish, chops and steaks on the grill. Heaven.
13. Try muttonbird
Muttonbird is a seabird widely found on the Titi Islands near Stewart Island and was long used by Maori as a source of food, down and feathers. You can find them in a few stores around that part of New Zealand and on the occasional restaurant menu, but be warned that their oily and fatty bird-like flesh with its strong fishy flavour is an acquired taste.
14. Gorge on crayfish
Devouring a feed of fresh Kaikoura crayfish is as essential as eating lobster in Maine or poutine in Quebec and you can find takeaway joints selling this delicious crustacean all over the North Canterbury town. The most famous is Nins Bin, a blue-and-white caravan on the side of the beautifully scenic road that hugs the coast along SH1. kaikoura.co.nz
15. Make a whitebait fritter sandwich
The weird thing about whitebait - the prized teeny freshwater fish caught in handheld mesh nets in certain rivers around New Zealand but specifically on the West Coast - is that the best way to eat them is in a fritter sandwiched between two pieces of white buttered bread with a squeeze of lemon to heighten their delicate flavour. Trust us.
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