Probably the greatest components of exploring New Zealand is stumbling throughout tiny cities and their tasty treats.
From eclairs to pāua pies – and even a city that runs on gin – listed here are the very best issues I ate and drank on a current 100-day highway journey round New Zealand.
Pāua pies – Tokomaru Bay
A visit round East Cape is a bucket record drive; youngsters play on horses, wild pigs run down the highway, and cows may be discovered wandering alongside distant golden seashores. The highway that hyperlinks this stunning slice of New Zealand is called State Freeway 35. Though “freeway” is maybe a beneficiant time period; it’s extra like a grand voyage of winding roads that takes you to a few of the most untouched components of the nation.
When you’ll go dozens of empty seashores, quaint little communities and the eastern-most level of New Zealand – certainly one of your obligatory stops is Tokomaru Bay’s Cafe 35. Right here you may discover the Cape’s iconic pāua pie. In the course of the faculty holidays or lengthy weekends, there might be queues – contemporary batches are gone inside minutes. You’ll be able to even strive loaded paua fries.
In the event you’re not a fan of seafood, the pork stomach pies are additionally unmissable.
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Sweets and cheesecake – Lawrence
Lawrence was as soon as the centre of the Otago Gold Rush, however as we speak it is one other sort growth taking the village by storm: a sugar rush.
The Lawrence Mint is a chocolate store with a distinction. It is all about small-batch handmade creations, and in a tiny city of round 500 folks, it has a gentle stream of devotees worshipping on the altar of cocoa. The cheesecakes are additionally worthy of excessive reward. A part of its recognition is that all the things is handmade utilizing Belgian chocolate – and you’ll style the love that goes into each morsel.
The store has closed for winter, with plans effectively underway for a brand new location simply down the highway – full with a tiny meals truck referred to as “The Little Minty”. If a spring highway journey by way of Otago is in your horizon, do not miss this candy cease.
Eclairs – Ohakune
Within the winter months, Ohakune is a bustling gateway to Mt Ruapehu. However each morning, effectively earlier than daybreak, the busiest place on the town is Johnny Nation’s Chocolate Eclair Store. There you’ll discover bakers onerous at work getting ready lots of of eclairs, which begin flying off the cabinets from 0630 every morning.
The family-run retailer, which has been working for greater than 70 years, promote their large chocolate creations for simply $3. Throughout busier days, queues will snake out the door. At $3 every, you will not discover higher worth.
Thoughts-blowing sandwiches – Hokitika
“What? A forty five-minute wait!” The particular person in entrance of us walked out.
All of us within the queue grinned. Those that have tasted the creations on the Hokitika Sandwich Firm do not stroll out. Ever.
How good can a sandwich be? I evaluate it to chocolate: it is slightly like consuming cooking chocolate your whole life, then out of the blue discovering Whittakers. These sandwiches are that good.
Just a few years in the past, Kiwi Joseph Walker left his restaurant within the US to open a sandwich bar in Hokitika, and it is now probably the most thrilling place on the town.
And it is not onerous to see why; the bread, meat and cheese are all sourced as regionally as doable. And Walker has perfected some type of sandwich sorcery bringing all of it collectively. What appears easy, tastes sensational.
The final time I used to be there, a Wānaka resident had determined to make her annual vacation on the West Coast for the second yr within the row – just because she needed to remain in Hokitika and eat just a few sandwiches whereas having fun with the wild surroundings.
The doughnut city – Motueka
The South Island city of Motueka has develop into Vacation spot Doughnut. It’s all due to the city’s Melbourne-esque eatery often known as The Smoking Barrel, the place lots of of doughnuts are created early every morning.
The flavours are extraordinary. We’re speaking R18 Naughty Snickers with bourbon salted caramel, Bounty Bar, vanilla creme brulee, Caramilk deluxe, and salted caramel popcorn – to call just a few.
Then there are the breakfast doughnuts, like bacon and eggs benedict. It is miraculously all packed contained in the dough – minimize it open, and an ideal egg is revealed.
The Smoking Barrel is run by husband and spouse crew Josiah and Rachel Smits. The proficient pair began the cafe with a concentrate on slow-cooked barbecue meats, however lately the doughnuts have proved enormously in style. A lot so, the cafe normally makes greater than 400 every day and are nearly all the time bought out inside hours.
Willy Wonka’s tiny chocolate store – Greytown
Greytown’s Schoc Sweets is like visiting Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Manufacturing unit if it determined to relocate to a tiny turn-of-the-century cottage. Creator Murray Langham calls it a “Chocolate Remedy Studio”, and I recommend you check-in for some critical rehab.
Inside is a cocoa wonderland with truffles, containers of candies, hampers and marzipan. The pièce de résistance is the “chocolate pill”: Schoc’s model of a chocolate bar. You may discover a wall with greater than 60 flavours, and – drum roll, please – you may style any of them without spending a dime. If in case you have a candy tooth, head straight for rose milk.
Alternatively, if in case you have a penchant for uncommon chocolate, Schoc makes flavours like carrot and coriander, curry and poppadoms, and even apricot and rosemary. The darkish chocolate with ghost chilli (one of many hottest on the planet) will check your structure.
Toffee heaven – Kerikeri
The most effective candy deal with I’ve ever tried is a macadamia butter toffee crunch from Makana Confections in Kerikeri.
A go to to the chocolate store contains free samples, alongside views of the workshop – the place you may watch the newest creations being made.
Whereas the truffles and candies are pleasant, the luscious slabs of toffee coated in milk chocolate and dusted with macadamia are in a league of their very own. Helpfully, if you cannot make it to the unique retailer in Kerikeri, the corporate additionally has one other retailer close to Blenheim.
Gin nation – Reefton
This outdated gold mining stronghold on the West Coast appeared destined for a gradual decline till budding entrepreneurs determined to concentrate on making gin the massive sport on the town.
In 2017 the Reefton Distilling Co was shaped, combining pure mountain water with a number of excessive nation botanicals to create a uniquely West Coast drop.
The distillery has received a number of worldwide awards and raised greater than $3 million to broaden its operation.
For $35, expertise a manufacturing facility tour, then go on a sensory journey by way of the rainforest with a tasting on the bar.
There at the moment are plans for a bigger distillery alongside a blueprint to reinvigorate the city with different vacationer sights.
Pork stomach pies – Fairlie
Pie lovers, begin your (digestive) engines. Whereas a visit to Lake Tekapo and Aoraki/Mt Cook dinner is a scenic spotlight of any vacation, your style buds will not be glad till you cease off on the Fairlie Bakehouse and take a look at their pies.
You may discover this bustling little city between Timaru and Lake Tekapo, and it is easy to identify the pie store: the bakehouse is the busiest place on the town.
Whereas all of the flavours are scrumptious, it is the pork stomach with apple sauce and crackling which have most raving. The bacon and salmon pie additionally has its justifiable share of worshippers, though, I’m not certainly one of them. Salmon in a pie is one step too far for me.
Cheese please – Featherston
In the event you’re within the Wairarapa for a wine weekend, bear in mind what additionally will get higher with age: cheese. The city of Featherston has a store referred to as C’est Cheese, and it’s residence to one of many largest ranges of speciality cheeses within the nation.
This little store’s dedication to cheese makes you’re feeling like you could possibly be in Europe; you may discover creations like The Drunken Nanny, which is goat’s cheese from Martinborough, Grinning Gecko camembert from Whangārei and even creations by its personal model: the Remutaka Go Creamery.
The cheesey nirvana is situated in one of many city’s historic buildings (nearly 150 years outdated), which can also be residence to a cheese bar, the place you may strive heavily-cheesed scones alongside tacky mushrooms on toast with a large cheese wafer.
What are your favorite tiny city treats? Inform us within the feedback.