10. AUCKLAND AND CENTRAL OTAGO WINERIES
If you can’t do the Classic Wine Trail, or you’d like to add to it, you’ll find important wine regions within easy reach of Auckland and Queenstown. Waiheke Island, ‘the island of wine’, is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, while beautiful Matakana and historic Kumeu are within an hour’s drive of the city.
From Queenstown, take a day trip to explore the numerous wineries of Central Otago. This region is famous for stunning Pinot Noir, which is well-matched with another New Zealand specialty – succulent lamb.
9. PICK YOUR OWN FRUIT
If you’re visiting any time between December and June, you may like to head out and pick your own fruit. New Zealand has all sorts of berries and stone fruit in summer, while pears, apples and citrus come on in autumn. At Berrylands in Nelson, you can pick your own strawberries and then blend them into ice cream at the orchard café.
New Zealand’s strong dairy industry has allowed the rise of some highly skilled cheese makers. Taste handmade blue, vintage and soft cheeses; favorite local brands include Puhoi, Kapiti, Kahurangi and Whitestone. If you don’t have time to seek out an artisan cheese store, pick up a wedge from the supermarket, or better yet, order a cheese platter when you go wine tasting.
7. MĀNUKA HONEY
This world-famous honey has natural antibacterial properties. It’s used in a wide range of foods, drinks, health products and skin care, and is a favorite take-home souvenir. To experience a full range of honey-sweetened delights, head to a honey specialist – like the Bay of Islands Honey Shop, Huka Honey Hive, and the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre.
6. CRAFT BEER
Craft beers are a growing phenomenon in New Zealand, and microbreweries can be found all over the place, especially Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Auckland. You’ll even find specially brewed ale at Hobbiton Movie Set’s Green Dragon Inn, in Matamata.
5. FARMERS MARKETS
Get up early on a weekend and mingle with the locals at a farmers’ market. Enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables, and take-home treats like jam, pickles and handmade bread. Look out for quintessentially kiwi flavors like kiwifruit and feijoa. Street food pop-ups are also worth discovering locally.
Coffee is an obsession in New Zealand, especially in the cities. We drink it strong and fresh – the Kiwi flat white has become world-famous. Simply ask the locals where to find a good brew.
3. MĀORI HĀNGĪ OR ‘ROAST DINNER’
Taste the smoky flavors and enjoy the communal experience of the hāngī. This indigenous Māori ‘roast dinner’ is cooked in the earth using hot rocks. Hāngī experiences usually include a traditional welcome ceremony and cultural performance, and can be found in Rotorua, Northland and Christchurch.
More than 9,000 miles of coastline provides a wealth of seafood throughout New Zealand. Local specialties include crayfish in Kaikoura, Bluff oysters in Southland, greenshell mussels in Marlborough, and whitebait patties on the West Coast. The uninitiated might like to start with the soft texture and mild taste of scallops from The Coromandel.
1. CLASSIC NEW ZEALAND WINE TRAIL
Experience three of our best wine regions on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Cycle the vines or be chauffeur driven; you’ll find cellar doors open for tasting and lovely vineyard restaurants in abundance. The Hawke’s Bay is well-known for Bordeaux Blends, Syrah and Chardonnay, Martinborough boasts wonderful Pinot Noir, and Marlborough has world-class Sauvignon Blanc.