Waitaki gourmet delights: Attention foodies!

Fresh, outstanding produce in the Waitaki district.

There is a place in New Zealand where quality food and wine is just being discovered by those outside of the area, which has a mixed reaction amoungst locals - 'we know it tastes good, now the rest of the world is finding out, its like our secret has been exposed' local resident Mike says with some sense of pride.

In 2010 Riverstone Kitchen took out the coverted Cuisine New Zealand Restaurant of the Year award - the first time a South Island restaurant had done so and it certainly woke up the world to the sleeping giant that is the Waitaki district.

'Our unique limestone country milk is the reason our cheese is so successful' local cheese manager Simon Berry says. 'The quality of the milk produces premium, natural, full flavoured cheeses which the public loves.' And it seems that he is not the only one who thinks so, Whitestone Cheese has just been announced as the most awarded brand at the national cheese awards in 2011.

The district is also home to Fleurs Place, a world famous seafood restaurant on the coast at Moeraki that serves fresh seafood straight from the fishing boats. When British television chef and restaurateur Rick Stein was told he could choose to go anywhere in the world to write a travel article for English newspaper the Daily Mail, he chose Fleurs Place in Moeraki. The restaurant, run by the inimitable Fleur Sullivan, was 'Just one of those places that keeps cropping up in conversations' whenever there was a gathering of 'foodies', he said. Fleur has also opened a new restaurant in Oamaru's Victorian Precinct called the Loan and Merc which focuses on slow cooked heritage food served in banquet style.

Pen-y-bryn Lodge also makes a statement when it comes to incredible dining, the award winning boutique style hotel serves first-class table d'hôte cuisine.

On top of that produce that continues to shine includes famous Oamaru potatoes, Totara Lowlands cherries and hazelnuts and blue cod from the boats at Moeraki. You will want to stay for a week to taste it all!