The ultimate itinerary for a New Zealand foodie holiday

Fish and chips! Chardonnay! Craft beer! Hangi! Sample the best of New Zealand cuisine and wine with our guide to the best food experiences in the country.

A green vineyard in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
  • Lindy Alexander
  • March 2020

The lush islands of New Zealand provide a delicious bounty for gourmands. Here are eight must-do activities for food and wine lovers.

Visit vineyards in Hawke’s Bay

Find yourself a designated driver for a day (or two) and start exploring some of the 72 wineries in this beautiful region on the east coast. As the second largest wine-growing region, Hawke’s Bay is renowned for its crisp chardonnay but the river valleys and rolling vineyards also produce wonderful cabernet sauvignons, merlots and cabernet francs. Don’t want to do it alone? Bay Tours takes you to vineyards and cellar doors at the region’s best wineries, including those at Gimblett Gravels, near Hastings.

baytours.co.nz/wine-tours opens in new window

Enjoy a Māori meal in Christchurch

Press your nose against that of the Māori chief (known as the hongi) before you take part in a powhiri – a traditional welcome. You’ll be able to learn the fearsome haka, poi dances and stick games before settling down for a four-course feast of traditional hangi, tucking into pork, chicken, lamb and kumura cooked in an earth oven. The poroporoaki, or the farewell ceremony, is a rousing way to end the night.

kotane.co.nz opens in new window

A white man with his head pressed against the head of a Maori man
From haka to hangi, you can experience Maori culture in Christchurch.

Do a food tour in Wellington

You’ll work up a healthy appetite while pounding the pavement on a Zest Food Tour, sampling artisan baked goods, cheese, charcuterie, dumplings, ice-cream and chocolate. The intimate Wellington Capital Tastes Walking Tour includes a visit to the bustling Harbourside food market, but if you have the time to spare, opt for the five-hour Walking Gourmet experience, which also stops for lunch at Field & Green, an innovative “soul food” restaurant.

zestfoodtours.co.nz opens in new window

Drink beer in Queenstown

Craft beer lovers, we may have found your spiritual home. Some of New Zealand’s tastiest beers are brewed amidst the striking Southern Alps. Take a Brewbus tour to visit the award-winning Altitude Brewing, where only Kiwi ingredients are used in their tipples, and Searchlight Brewery – a secluded spot with 18 house-made beers on tap.

brewbus.co.nz opens in new window

A pint of beer being pulled in a brewery in Queenstown
Beer fans will love the craft breweries in Queenstown.

Taste cheese in Oamaru

While the cheesemakers may be blessed, a visit to Whitestone Cheese in Oamaru, south of Christchurch, leaves you feeling the cheese tasters are also pretty lucky. Join a tour at this renowned factory in the North Otago region for a behind-the-scenes look at how different cheeses such as fetta, blue and camembert are made. If the goody bag sample at the end of the tour only serves to ignite your hunger, you can always stock up on more at the on-site shop. Our pick? The crumbly Ohau goat’s blue.

whitestonecheese.com opens in new window

Three different blocks of cheese sitting on top of each other
Go behind-the-scenes with a factory tour at Whitestone Cheese.

Eat seafood in Doubtless Bay

For some of the best fish and chips you can find, enjoyed with a stunning backdrop, head to the Mangonui Fish Shop located in the eponymous historic fishing village in Doubtless Bay. Just 100 metres from the pristine waters of the harbour, the fish shop has been trading on the same site for more than 70 years – the line-caught fish is fresh and the golden chips are super crunchy. For a gourmet experience, book into Ortolana, widely considered one of Auckland’s best restaurants.

mangonuifishshop.com opens in new window; ortolana.co.nz opens in new window

A table with plates of food and glasses at Ortolana in Auckland
Ortolana specialises in food made with local, seasonal produce.

Go raw at Stirling Point

From March to April, oysters are the word on the southern coast. The clear, icy cold Foveaux Strait grows some of the country’s best bivalves and there are many places to sample them. Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters opens in new window sells fresh oysters from their retail shop, or you could grab a half dozen (or more) from Fowler’s Oysters and head to Stirling Point to enjoy the view of the rugged coastline. The season is short so go hard.

A man shucking an oyster in Stirling Point, New Zealand
Sample some of the country's best oysters while overlooking the rugged shoreline.

Learn to cook plant-based food in Auckland

Hungry for some nutritious new recipes? Little Bird Organics offers chef-led classes on plant-based meals where you’ll learn to create tasty vegetarian, vegan, paleo, raw, sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free dishes. From wholefoods to fermentation and desserts, this is a cooking school with a delicious difference.

littlebirdorganics.co.nz opens in new window