New Zealand's lush terroir is celebrated not only for its stunning vineyard scenery and world class wineries, but its multitude of delicious produce; from succulent lamb, a smorgasbord of seafood - mussels, oysters, crayfish, scallops and abalone - fruits and vegetables including the synonymous kiwifruit as well as the prized Manuka honey, just to name a few.
To commence the culinary journey and to get acquainted with some of the local produce on offer, take Zest Food Tours' gourmet walking and tasting tours and visit local markets, delicatessens, and meet with artisans in the principal cities of Auckland and Wellington.
In many of the country's leading kitchens, fresh local ingredients are magnificently transformed earning New Zealand's fine dining restaurants international acclaim, such as Kiwi celebrity chefs Peter Gordon's The Sugar Club perched on 53rd floor of Auckland's iconic Sky Tower, or Simon Gault and Shane Yardley's FISH and its spectacular showcase of local seafood with prime harbour views across Auckland harbour.
For coffee lovers and connoisseurs, a range of new cafes and roasters, alongside a thriving barista scene can be found in New Zealand - not surprising for a country often credited as pioneering the "flat white". To sample, Mojo Coffee, originally a boutique roastery café from Wellington can now be found in the additional cities of Auckland and Dunedin.
In true Kiwi-style, a more laid back approach to dining is best experienced through a ‘Hangi' - a traditional Maori method of cooking using heated rocks buried in a pit oven. One of the best places to enjoy this cultural feast is in Rotorua, the Maori capital of New Zealand.
To master the different uses of Kamo Kamo (squash) and Pikopiko (fern shoot), visit the Wild Food Cooking School at Treetops Lodge & Estate, where resident chef will guide guests through the property's 2,500 acre eco forest to forage for indigenous ingredients, followed by an introduction to Maori cooking back at the lodge's kitchen.
Visitors can also taste their way across the country on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail that stretches from Hawke's Bay in the North Island down to Marlborough in the south. Hawke's Bay is the land of robust Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah; Wairarapa noted for producing the premium Pinot Noir; while Marlborough's crisp Sauvignon Blanc is sought after the world over.
Travel in February and enjoy a visit to the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival, one of the pioneering wine events of its kind, hosted on one of the regions oldest and most beautiful vineyards, Brancott Estate.
In March, the Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival showcases wines from sixteen different wineries in a picnic setting at ‘The Cliffs' alongside the picturesque Ruamahanga River.
Those wanting to complement their Sauvignon Blanc with world class seafood can head to Havelock, a coastal village in Marlborough nicknamed the ‘green lipped mussel capital of the world', and its annual Havelock Mussel Festival which takes place every March.
The seafood offering in New Zealand doesn't stop there. For the most supreme oyster experience, travel to the southernmost tip of the country for the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival, renowned for its annual showcase of the planet's tastiest Oysters every May.
For those seeking a health kick, there are a number of holistic retreats across the country at which to relax and unwind. Split Apple Retreat, located high on a cliff face, minutes away from stunning Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island, has become famous for its dedication to fine food that will, at the same time, help tune the body to achieve optimum good health, promote longevity and help stay forever young.
More information on New Zealand can be found at: http://www.newzealand.com/