In New Zealand's rural heartland, the bounty of the countryside is generously represented on the menus. Enjoy down home flavours and friendly service.
These cities serve their rural communities, who often come to town looking for restaurants, liquid refreshment and a bit of urban excitement. If you want to mix it with the locals, a traditional pub lunch or dinner will leave you well satisfied.
To add to your kiwiana experience, visit the rugby museum in Palmerston North and the Tui brewery in Mangatainoka.
Another approach would be to stay in a country homestead or farmstay, where outdoor pursuits will sharpen your appetite for great home cooking.
At the Hiwinui Country Estate, your farming experience comes with extra luxuries - fine dining and a day spa. Bushy Park, an Edwardian country home near Wanganui, has a licensed restaurant and 240 acres of native rainforest for hiking.
On the banks of the Whanganui River, Koriniti Marae provides a very different kind of homestay, complete with traditional Maori hangi food.
The pretty town of Feilding hosts an excellent artisan food market every Friday, where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, pate, specialty bread, wine, pesto and much more. Another unique experience is the herb farm in Ashurst, where a café makes good use of the fresh herbs grown on the farm.
Beer, cheese and seafood are three very good reasons to visit Taranaki. You’ll also be entranced by the huge volcano that dominates most views - Mount Taranaki is truly dramatic, with an almost perfectly symmetrical cone.
To tour the three boutique breweries in the region, elect a sober driver and print off the Taranaki Wine and Ale Trail Map. Not only will you discover Taranaki’s greatest beers, you can also call into a fruit winery that specialises in luscious raspberry and boysenberry wine.
For a cheese experience, put Eltham on your itinerary. In 1952, New Zealand’s first blue vein cheese was made in this town. Today Eltham’s largest employer is the Mainland cheese factory, which makes both everyday and speciality cheeses. Nibble to your heart’s content at the cheese bar in Bridge Street.
Taranaki’s legendary seafood is something you can enjoy at every café and restaurant. Look for paua on the menu - New Zealand black abalone is farmed commercially in New Plymouth. It is usually minced and served as a delicious fritter with a squeeze of lemon juice.