Adding a cooking class to your New Zealand holiday is a tasty way to create amazing memories. You'll get hands-on experience with Pacific Rim cuisine.
Every part of New Zealand has its food and wine specialties. Different types of fish and shellfish, specific fruit and vegetables that thrive in the local climate, cheeses from artisan producers and climate-matched grape varieties. And the very best way to get acquainted with these local specialties, and some of the local people as well, is to find a cooking class and tie on your apron.
Wherever you’re planning to go in New Zealand, you’ll find a cooking class nearby. Here’s a north-to-south summary of recommended experiences:
Auckland Fish Market(opens in new window), Auckland: Go to Seafood School and find out how to prepare amazing fresh-from-the-sea meals with New Zealand fish and shellfish. An overhead-viewing panel makes it easy to learn before you move to a cooking station to do it yourself.
Sachie's Kitchen(opens in new window) , Auckland: : Come to the most award-winning cooking school in New Zealand, Sachie’s Kitchen to learn authentic Asian & Pacific Fusion cooking classes using the finest of NZ’s produce, meat, vegetables and wine and beer.
Breckenridge Lodge(opens in new window), Hawke’s Bay: A ‘stay and cook’ kind of place, although the cooking school is also available to non-guests. A typical lesson with Malcolm Redmond teaches you how to prepare a three-course gourmet dinner menu.
Wild Food Cooking School, Treetops Lodge(opens in new window), Rotorua: Designed for couples, the Treetops’ Wild Food Cooking Experience includes a 4WD forest expedition, foraging for native flavourings and a cooking lesson with talented Maori chefs.
Ruth Pretty Cooking School(opens in new window), Kapiti Coast: Operating on weekends from February to December, the Ruth Pretty Cooking School starts with preparation and cooking, then finishes with a long lunch on the veranda.
A Culinary Experience(opens in new window), Nelson: Enjoy 5-star luxury B & B accommodation, with the extra attraction of cooking classes. Menus highlight local ingredients, such as Tasman Bay scallops and Havelock green-lipped mussels.
She Chocolat(opens in new window) Chocolate School, Christchurch: One or two day experiences that reveal the secrets of chocolate making success. Wickedly wonderful.
Otahuna Lodge (opens in new window)Cooking classes, Christchurch: A three-hour, hands-on cooking lesson with Executive Chef Jimmy McIntyre. You’ll gather from Otahuna’s organic potager garden learn new cooking techniques.
Akaroa Cooking School(opens in new window), Akaroa: Recently named in Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 places to learn to cook local cuisine in the world, this cooking school delivers a completely indulgent learning, eating and drinking experience.
A Touch of Spice
Some cooking experiences are tied to your accommodation choices. For example, if you stay in one of a Touch of Spice private villas, you have the option of a personal chef who can provide cooking lessons, as well as gourmet meals that suit your tastes. Dave Miller, one of the Touch of Spice in-house chefs, often finds that meal preparation times turn into cooking lessons. He’s also known to entertain the resident children with cookie-making sessions.
Kinaki Wild Herbs
For a particularly unique cooking experience, Maori chef Charles Royal runs forest food trails and cooking lessons that can last half a day or two days. Charles is something of a legend in New Zealand cooking circles. His company, Kinaki Wild Herbs, creates gourmet food experiences using traditional Maori cooking methods and ingredients. Indigenous ingredients - such as horopito and kawakawa(native herbs), baby fern fronds and huhu grubs (native beetle larvae) – are sourced during forest walks that culminate in the kitchen.