Looking for a taste bud adventure in New Zealand? Try Central North Island and discover the traditional Maori food and excellent wine to match.
There are two passages through the Central North Island, yet both ends in Hawke’s Bay – considered as a premier food and wine destination. Furthermore, the Thermal Explorer Highway leads to traditional Hangi food and geothermally farmed prawns; the Pacific Explorer Highway lets you discover the coast for a great fruit, seafood and wine experience.
HAMILTON – WAIKATO
Heading south from Auckland will bring you to Hamilton – Waikato region where you can stop at Mercer – a famous highway stop known for bacon and ice cream. Then fill your appetite for Hamilton’s Victoria Street cafes – there are many to choose from.
Outside Hamilton, in Ohaupo, try exquisite wines from Vilagrad Wines while enjoying their tours and tastings. Just remember to phone ahead to make a booking.
Bask in the sunny weather, vast river plains and endless beach surrounded by forested mountain ranges. Hawke’s Bay region will surely satisfy all your senses. All boutique accommodation lets you immerse yourself in the region’s famous food and wine culture. You can also indulge in a historic hotel, where every meal looks like a work of art.
Hawke’s Bay is also New Zealand’s second-largest wine district. Alluvial soils and a clearly Mediterranean climate yield sophisticated, intense reds and weighty, finely structured chardonnays – the same exquisite taste of Chardonnay.
Lastly, try to visit a nearby vineyard restaurant like the one at Brookfield, where you can enjoy authentic provincial cuisine that perfectly matches local wine.
Arrange an indigenous food tour with Charles Royal, a famous Maori chef who uses his skills in traditional cooking methods and native herbs will keep you wanting more. Next, book a tour at the Tamaki Maori Village. A hangi banquet, cooked in an earth oven.
You’ll also get to see curious steam rising from many areas in Rotorua. This underground energy is used in the village of Whakawerawera for cooking.
Known as the Chardonnay capital of New Zealand, Gisborne has gained the reputation for Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. There’s a long trail of wine to follow, and an educational wine center in the city to kick-off your tasting adventure. Aside the great gourmet food and delicious wines, this small, tranquil city is rich in Maori culture and offers some of the country’s best surf beaches.
If you’re beginning your journey from Auckland, start your food trip at Clevedon Coast Oysters found on the coastal road out of Auckland. Then go the Coromandel Peninsula, where awesome seafood awaits you.
Aside from local favorites such as terakihi and snappers, you can enjoy oysters, crayfish, mussels, paua and scallops. There’s also a smoking company in Coromandel that offers naturally smoked seafood of every kind. Tairua on the other side of the peninsula is renowned for its fish and chips.
There you have it! Five locations in the Central North Island to start your food and wine tasting adventure. If you prefer to stay indoors while enjoying a good sip of wine, then try the Chardonnay from Advintage for your mid-afternoon or late night drinking pleasure.