Top 10 food and wine experiences

New Zealand's food, wine and beer attracts people from all over the world, and with good reason.

Check out our Top 10 must-do food and drink activities to help plan your trip.

1. Classic New Zealand Wine Trail

Wine lovers rejoice! The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail takes you on tasteful journey through three of New Zealand's finest wine regions. Start in Napier where the sunny Hawke's Bay region has a climate similar to Bordeaux, France and produces excellent Bordeaux blends, syrah and chardonnay. Next stop, Martinborough in the Wairarapa region to cycle through the vineyards. The milder climate produces great pinot gris, pinot nior and riesling. Then, it's onto the Marlborough region to sample world famous New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

Classic New Zealand Wine Trail

2. Get hands on with cooking classes

Put your apron on and roll up your sleeves! Gather produce straight from the farm and create paddock to plate style dishes with Hapuku Kitchen(opens in new window) and Akaroa Cooking School(opens in new window). See you if you can perfect a sponge cake or pavlova at the Chelsea Bay Edmonds Baking School(opens in new window). Or, take up the challenge of making fresh cheese in two hours at The New Zealand Cheese School(opens in new window). Fill your puku (stomach) with a Puku Burger at Tamaki Māori Village,(opens in new window) your burger creation is infused with Māori flavours such as horopito (pepper) and pikopiko (young fern flesh) then encrusted in warm fried bread. Wash it down with a hot kawakawa tea. Reka! Yum!

3. Experience a progressive winery dinner

What is a progressive winery dinner? It's three (or more) courses of gourmet food and wine pairing at three different winery venues. Taste three of the finest wineries in Queenstown and Arrowtown with Alpine Wine Tours(opens in new window). Starting with an entree at Amisfield Bistro, enjoy your main at Aosta and dessert at Eichardt's. Or, explore the Hawke's Bay with Twighlight Odyssey(opens in new window). This tour begins with a champagne sunset over Te Mata Peak, then it's on to Craggy Range Winery or Elephant Hill Winery for dinner. Followed by dessert and sweet wines at New Zealand's oldest wine estate, The Mission Estate. 

4. Sample food and coffee with a walking tour

Zest Food Tour(opens in new window) know a thing or two about Wellington's food and drink scene. Sneak down Hannah's Laneway in search for secret foodie spots such as Fix & Fogg peanut butter, Wellington Chocolate Factory and Goldings Free Dive bar. Or explore Auckland with Aucky Walky Tours(opens in new window) and taste your way around the city, sampling dumplings, lamb and sweet treats. Then, take a quick ferry ride to Waiheke Island and meet Ananda Tours(opens in new window) to eat fresh oysters, visit great local vineyards and a micro-brewery. 

5. Meet the locals at a farmers market

Rise early to get to the weekend farmers markets where you can meet the growers and mingle with the locals. During the autumn months you'll find fresh feijoas and kiwifruit. And the summer months will bring you fresh nectarines, apricots and strawberries. Homemade pickles, jams and breads also take centre stage. 

Find a market near you

6. Find your perfect craft beer or brewery

Craft beers are a growing phenomenon in New Zealand and micro-breweries can be found all over the country. Breweries are popping up all over Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Auckland. You’ll even find specially brewed ale at Hobbiton Movie Set Green Dragon Inn, in Matamata. On the West Coast the Monteiths Brewery offer a behind the scenes brewing tour and the restaurant serves up hearty pub food next to a roaring fire. For a more traditional beer visit the Tui Brewery(opens in new window) in Mangatainoka.

7. Get stuck into some Mānuka honey

New Zealand's world-famous Mānuka honey has natural antibacterial properties. It’s used in a wide range of food and drinks, as well as in health products and skin care and is a favourite take-home souvenir. The Bay of Islands Honey Shop, and the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre are great places to learn about bees and honey and taste Mānuka honey, clover honey, pohutukawa honey and many more. Or, explore The Huka Honey Shack(opens in new window) and sample the many types of New Zealand honey!

8.Try our world famous New Zealand seafood

Discover the natural beauty of the Queen Charlotte Sound with a Seafood Odyssea Cruise(opens in new window). From Picton you'll sail across the calm waters as you feast on delicately prepared fresh salmon, Cloudy Bay Clams (tua tua) and Greenshell mussels paired with a Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Next, relax and unwind with a Greenshell Mussel Cruise(opens in new window) through the Marlborough Sounds and Pelorus Sounds departing from Havelock. You'll learn about mussel farms and try melt-in-your-mouth steamed mussels onboard. In Kaikōura you'll find Nins Bin,(opens in new window) a local icon which is a simple caravan perched on the coast, serving freshly caught gourmet crayfish - don't miss it!  

Must-try seafood

9. Feast on a traditional Māori hāngī

In traditional hāngī cooking, food such as fish and kumara (sweet potato), were cooked in a pit dug in the ground. Today, pork, lamb, potato, pumpkin and cabbage are also included. A modern hāngī is likely to use cloth sacks to wrap the food in, also aluminium foil and wire baskets. The baskets are placed on hot stones at the bottom of a hole dug into the ground. The food is covered with a wet cloth and a mound of dirt that traps the heat from the stones. The hāngī food is left in the ground for a few hours, revealing tender meat and delicious vegetables, infused with smoky, earthy flavours. Find a hāngī meal at Whakarewarewa Living Māori VillageTamaki Māori Village, Te Puia or at Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

10. Attend gourmet food and drink events

In New Zealand, food is a great topic to start a conversation and Kiwis love a good food and drink event. Seafood lovers will enjoy the Whitianga Oceans Festival(opens in new window) (formally known as the Whitianga Scallop Festival) or the Bluff Oyster & Food Festival. Brave 'foodies' with adventurous taste buds should spend some time at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival(opens in new window) where possum pie and huhu grubs feature on the menu! Throughout the year you can find your perfect Food and Wine events and Beer Events and Festivals

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