The Highly Palatable Guide to New Zealand Cuisine.

New Zealand wine and food guide

There is no better way to understand a culture than to pick up a fork or tilt one's glass. Calling all foodie adventurers -  look no further - how to find and enjoy New Zealand's passionate producers devoted to pleasing your palate. Especially for those want to experience New Zealand Cuisine at its best.

The Highly Palatable Guide to New Zealand Cuisine.

Food was fuel, meals were pit stops. 

 As one of the last British outposts we were obviously heavily influenced by our colonial forebearers, the long-suffering New Zealander had to put up with a staple diet that consisted mainly of meat and three veg, followed by stodgy pudding and weak tea…the only thing present that looked close to a herb was a good dollop of tomato sauce  - we had such a long road ahead of us.

Palate-broadening overseas experiences

Inspired by the old-world culinary Mecca’s of France, Italy and beyond, jet setting kiwi youth returned from their ‘OE’ (Over-sea’s experience) and demanded change; they turned their noses up at mums ‘Bangers and Mash’ cringed at the ever-reliable “Bread and Butter Custard Pudding” and overnight we were transformed from a nation who cherished “Rugby, Racing and Beer” into a nation of connoisseurs, a nation of proud food, wine, and craft beer lovers, we wouldn’t settle for anything but the best.

The culinary revolution was upon us, we diligently fine-tuned our palates, corrected our pronunciation of degustation and as if by magic our wines were winning international awards our chefs were gaining global recognition,  ‘coffee culture’ was becoming firmly entrenched - “New Zealand has more roasters per capita than anywhere in the world” we bragged. --- We had arrived! 

For a fascinating account of this change over the decades read more here

New Zealand Food Evolution


Perhaps it was the GFC or it could be in response to Climate Change, whatever the case, the story is once again changing - the ‘high-end culinary experience’ no longer fits the bill, innovative young chefs are winding back the clock (ever so slightly) ‘From the paddock to the plate’ has become the new mantra, fresh seasonal flavours, regional farming, boutique local artisan food products and farmers markets are the new buzzwords challenging patrons to think more deeply into how and where their food is produced. As if in unison farmers are also changing their tune with ‘sustainability’ and ‘organics’ leading the charge.

An Insiders Guide to Great Regional Wine & Food Tours

Meet regional personalities and businesses that are truly passionate about pleasing your palate when exploring New Zealand.

New Zealand Food and Wine Map

Auckland's 'Big Foodie'

Sometimes you feel like you are living on an island within an island residing in the 'City of Sails' surrounded by water. Its fertile volcanic soils and a temperate climate guarantee Auckland produces fine fresh produce, but lets not to forget the fresh fish caught in the gulf or the superb wine made in the west of the region. Join Elle Armon-Jones AKA ‘the Big Foodie’ on a tantalizing tour around this exciting multicultural city. Elle takes you around the city centre to visit award-winning restaurants and cafes and out to the suburbs where you visit local producers, farmers markets, and much more.

Auckland's big foodie

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is to Auckland as the Hamptons are to New York – the former being on a much smaller scale. Home to beautiful beaches and holiday homes, Waiheke Island punched above its weight and produces some outstanding wines - Syrah has become well regarded - and the Stonyridge Larose requires that one wait on a list to become eligible to buy.

Just a thirty-five-minute boat ride away from the city the island lends itself nicely to a lazy day sampling great food and wine staring out over the Pacific. A natural complement to the fine wines you will taste on Waiheke is a range of hand-made specialty foods all locally-grown. The name ‘Ananda’ gives you a glimpse into the islands Hippy past; derived from the principal disciple of the Buddha. Ananda Tours have been showing guests the delights of Waiheke for decades, although you won't see any flower patterned VW kombis these days you will certainly get a chance to visit the islands best vineyards and eateries. Stony Batter is a must stop with the cellar door nestled on the water's edge - fancy a cold Rose as you dip your toes in the ocean. 

waiheke Island

Hawkes Bay Wine & Food Country

Hawke’s Bay is on the East Coast of New Zealand's North Island and is blessed with a sunny, Mediterranean-style climate and is one of New Zealand’s warmest and driest regions. It is no wonder it is the leading producer of red wine and often referred to as the 'Food Basket' of New Zealand. Also known for its artisan gourmet foods, beautiful Art Deco architecture, and glorious beaches - Hawke's Bay has all the ingredients for a great place to visit.

Grant Petherick has over 25 years experience in the wine industry and has a knack for tailor-making gourmet tours to suit individual needs, giving you exclusive access to the finest wine and food Hawkes Bay has on offer. From Saffron to olive oil, truffles to chili lime marmalade your taste buds will be teased. It says it in the name Greg Beachen from Grape Escape runs small group tours that offer a great overview of the wines produced in the region with options to savor local produce along the way.

Wine Touring in Hawkes Bay

Wairarapa’s Martinborough and Greytown

Martinborough is just an hour drive north of Wellington and is the centre of the Wairarapa wine region. Some of New Zealand’s best and certainly most expensive wines come from here and with everything being boutique and compact you can park your car in the local town square and stroll to the vineyards, there is quite a selection with more than twenty to choose from.

Now for some food: Just up the road is Greytown with its historic Victorian buildings and stately tree-lined avenues, Greytown has been described as the prettiest town in the North Island and a must-see if you happen to be doing the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Greytown has a great selection of chic cafés, restaurants, and pubs alongside well regarded antique shops and boutiques galleries - perfect for an afternoon of eating and shopping.

Martinborough Food Tours

Wellington: the” Coolest Little Capital In The World"

Dubbed the” Coolest Little Capital In The World" by lonely planet it is also known as the ‘culinary capital’ and is famous for its hidden bars with award-winning bartenders, quirky cafes and top of the line restaurants - Whether you're a wine or culinary aficionado or a craft beer connoisseur, Wellington has a range of flavors that are sure to delight.

Zest Food Tours: Explore Wellington’s favorite hidden gems with a five-hour ‘Walking Gourmet Tour’ this is just the ticket, a great way to navigate through this compact city meeting owners, coffee roasters, baristas, and chefs – followed by a delicious tasting lunch with matched kiwi wines at a top restaurant.

Welling's food and wine tour


Synonymous with the Marlborough region is its world-class Sauvignon Blanc. A backdrop of rugged mountain ranges, fertile plains and picturesque waterways with thriving aquaculture, Marlborough has a lot to offer from its wilderness, waterways, and wine - best you make sure your holiday includes Marlborough. Marlborough Travel has a unique wine and food cruise experience through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Take in the natural beauty of this serene environment; your Skipper will share fascinating stories of the ancient Maori tribes that lived here and hear the history of the pioneering families who settled over 6 generations ago. Visit a Greenshell Mussel farm where your launch captain will explain the intricacies of growing this delicacy in the Sounds. While at the mussel farm you will be served freshly steamed mussels with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a wonderful wine and food match in a beautiful part of Marlborough.

Mussel Tour Marlborough

Central Otago

With over 150 bars and restaurants, this city has gained a reputation for great wine and exceptional food. Local growers, winemakers, and chefs are passionate about their region and with a supply of outstanding produce sourced locally inspire some amazing menus bound to please the fussiest of wine and food lover. Central Otago is the world's most southerly wine region and it is here you will find great Pinot Noir, one of the Holy Grail’s for wine fans so a locally hosted food and wine tour is just the ticket to enjoy the district fully.

Join Wendy Johnston and Phillip Green and their team at 'Appellation Central Otago Wine Tours' Enjoy a relaxed day sampling fine cuisine while tasting some of New Zealand's premium cool-climate wines in Cromwell, Gibbston Valley, and Bannockburn - areas of unrivaled scenic beauty. Walk through New Zealand's largest underground wine cave, sample local cheeses and finish up with a platter lunch at Northburn Station.

Queenstown Wine Tours

Ready to Start Planning Your Taste of New Zealand Trip?

The options for exploring New Zealand are limitless. Check out our Self Drive Food and Wine Tours for ideas or get in touch with our travel specialists who will be happy to arrange a private guided tour with everything tailored exactly as you wish.


Suzie Thorp
: 10 Mar 2022 (Last updated: 21 Mar 2022)

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