New Zealand: The ultimate food guide to eating well
You'd expect New Zealanders to eat well. The country's rolling pastures, ample rainfall and isolation has always produced plenty of seasonal produce, and its traditional food culture is based on wholefoods, home baking and preserving. In recent years though, Kiwis have gone further — embracing clean eating, organic and artisan producers as part of their daily routine.
Your best bet to discovering the island country? Peruse this extensive guide, which features the latest breed of farmers' markets, local producers and organic shops. This is what the cream of the crop looks, sounds, and tastes like...
WHEN IN AUCKLAND...
The lowdown: Auckland's combination of harbours and volcanoes, as well as a flourishing restaurant and retail scene, makes for a heady mix of urban sophistication and natural diversions. Be sure to make time to head north to Matakana, where vineyards sit alongside white sand beaches and Goat Island, one of the country's finest marine reserves.
Little Bird Organics
In Auckland's bijou inner-city suburbs of Grey Lynn, Ponsonby and Kingsland — along with yoga studios and shops selling activewear, there's a rooted culture of clean and healthy eating. Cult organic bakery Little Bird Organics embodies all that. The cafe now has three sites around central Auckland and makes everything from scratch. The salad bowls are legendary, and so are the 'cheesecakes'.
Meanwhile in Grey Lynn, you'll find the original Auckland wholefoods store, Harvest, which stocks everything from organic lima beans to skincare.
Ponsonby's Raw Kitchen
Not too far away from Harvest, you'll find Ponsonby's Raw Kitchen, which has original butcher's tiles and a long scrubbed white table serving tonics and smoothies.
In neighbouring Kingsland, ivy-covered Mondays is down a little lane off the main street. They have great filter coffee and the salads are wonderful. The courtyard here is a particularly restful spot while a yoga studio is also available for anyone looking to get a session in.
Parnell Farmers' Market
The city also has a multitude of farmers' markets. Head to the Parnell Farmers' Market on Saturdays for heirloom tomatoes and organic blueberries, or the Grey Lynn Farmers' Market on Sunday for nut butter and heritage greens.
WHEN IN RAGLAN...
The lowdown: Raglan is a little over two hours' drive from Auckland and 45 minutes from Hamilton — it's an easy drive through the rolling country. Surfing is the name of the game here; the long, even surf break is one of the country's finest. Tip: Head over to The Raglan Surfing School. and you'll be all set.
Raglan's charming mix of surfers and backpackers on yoga holidays makes for a relaxing spot — especially down at Solscape, a retreat just out of town, where you can stay in a teepee or an architecturally designed eco-house. The huge covered deck makes for an excellent breakfast spot. Meals are made using produce from the property's garden and the green smoothies are exceptionally good.
In the network of laneways behind the main street, you'll find Wok Raglan selling locally-sourced products. Go for the Jersey Girls milk from nearby Matamata and Sweetree Honey from nearby Gordonton.
WHEN IN WELLINGTON AND WAIRARAPA...
The lowdown: Wellington's vertiginous hills and windy weather makes for a spectacular spot no matter what time of the year. Along with beer and coffee, the city has a first-rate art scene and nowhere is this better seen than the City Gallery Wellington. Instead of a permanent collection, it hosts international and locally-curated exhibitions of cutting-edge art.
Good Buzz Brewing Co
Wellington has a fiercely held and well-deserved reputation as the home of craft beer and great coffee, but it also has a long tradition of supporting small local producers. The latest cult item is Good Buzz Brewing Co, which does brewed kombucha using a 40-year-old family culture started by owner Alex Campbell's grandmother. You can try it a number of local cafés including the Amsterdam Coffeeshop down on Cuba Street.
Not too far away from Good Buzz Brewing Co. lies Seize on Lambton Quay. It's a beautiful, timbered space where there are salads, raw baking and all the other essentials of clean eating to fuel you through the day.
Greytown's Food Forest Organics
Just north of the city, Greytown's Food Forest Organics is a grocery and produce store with a beautiful garden out the back and a focus on plant-based eating. The store sells local producers and organic staples, as well as lunch during the day. There are two airy apartments above the store for those that want to stay longer.
WHEN IN CENTRAL OTAGO & QUEENSTOWN...
The lowdown: Central Otago and Queenstown makes for a spectacular getaway no matter the time of year. Traditionally known for its adventure tourism, there are plenty of more sedate activities on offer as well. To wind-down, go for a soak at the Onsen Hot Pools.
The Central Otago wine region is evolving rapidly, and proof of this is Sherwood — an eco-hotel-cum-restaurant on the main road into Queenstown with a spectacular view of the mountains. You'll be served a kombucha as you check in and the restaurant has a biodynamic focus serving natural wines and produce from the property's vegetable garden along with organic meat cooked over charcoal.
Vudu Café and Larder
In town, head to Vudu Cafe and Larder for chai-spiced porridge, vegan bircher muesli and buckwheat pancakes. Side note: they also serve up a decent cuppa.
Soul Food Organics
Over the hill in Wanaka, there's a growing community of producers including the People's Bread. The sourdough is dense and dark, made from hand-ground sprouted organic grain while also stocking local producer Yum Granola's grain-free organic granola. You'll find both of these at the legendary Soul Food Organics.