One of my all time favourite things about travelling is the food! Trying new cuisines, exciting flavours and fresh local produce gets my tastebuds tingling just writing about it. I’ve never been able to view food as fuel, but rather food for the soul. Food brings back memories, affects our feelings and celebrates our friendships, it carries traditions, introduces cultures and brings families together. And most of all…good food, tastes good!! And a little good in our days can go a long way.
Whenever I make the trip back to NZ, I always look forward to the ice cream, new potatoes and stone fruit the most! With such a fertile landscape and the perfect conditions, people here are able to make the most of fresh, local ingredients, even from their own backyards.
Here’s a bit of a food diary from my time in Wanaka, Queenstown and surrounds. I hope these pictures tantalise your tastebuds as much as the food danced on mine!
Kai Whakapai |
We stopped in at Kai a couple of mornings while in Wanaka and the reason is really all in the name – Kai Whakapai meaning ‘food made good’. Cafe by day and bar by night, they serve up some of the most delicious plates I’ve had and was our favourite spot to start the day! Nothing beats a full, hearty meal with all of your favourite trimmings, before a busy day of exploring. I couldn’t go past their röstis with poached eggs, wilted greens, haloumi and tomato salsa – it tasted even better than it looks! At night, this little hot spot becomes a relaxed bar, with plenty of outdoor seating allowing you to take in as much of the gorgeous lakeside as possible while sipping on some local beer.
This little mobile trailer serves up some of the best pizza’s in town and is definitely a must eat. If Italian is your cuisine and pizza your language, Francesca’s has the goods, with a small but flavourful menu of authentic wood fired pizzas. So good you’ll polish off all of the crumbs in the box (no left over pizza when you order from here).
Gin & Raspberry |
Upstairs in this boutique, lakeside bar, you’re immediately welcomed to a dimly lit space with soft furnishings, roaring fireplaces, intimate booths and a dark wooden bar. The perfect setting for a few special drinks with friends. Picking the right cocktail can always be a little tricky – I know I always like to try something new – so we settled for their signature ‘The Gin & Raspberry‘ a delicious medley of gin, Chambord, lemon juice, raspberries & fresh mint. Let’s just say it’s hard to stop at one. To accompany our drinks, we ordered a side of marinated olives and a cheeseboard. The dried kiwi was both surprising and absolutely delicious, but the beetroot chutney was my personal favourite. Ash and I enjoyed our cocktails out on the balcony, which offers up some of the best views in Wanaka, as we sat back and toasted to our trip.
Fish & Chips |
Fish and chips have always reminded me of my childhood growing up in NZ, and it’s there you really can get some of the best! Ahead of a day out on the lake and biking about town, we settled down to some hot chips and onion rings by the water from Wana Takeaway.
Wild Earth Restaurant |
You might remember spotting this incredible spread in my Wine Country post! Pictured here is the Oak Stave Tasting Platter, a very special lunch which is cooked inside Wild’s oak barrels, giving each dish a distinctive smokey flavour, and each one was perfectly paired with Wild Earth‘s own Central Otago wines. Their menu is largely gluten free and can be tailored to guest requests (ours was vegetarian, however Ash requested one serving of salmon). With the restaurant sitting across the stunning Kawarau Gorge, this was such a wonderful dining experience, I could go back a thousand times.
Mexican is one of my all time favourite cuisines. Hands down. The simplicity of the dishes, that at the same time pack some serious flavour, it always sits high on my cravings list. Operating out of a quaint caravan, Burt.Ritos takes an authentic approach to Mexican street food with a hand-made, seasonal menu. You’ll find burritos, tacos & seasonal specials with gluten free & vegetarian options also available. The sweet little picnic table set up’s, complete with cosy blankets when it’s cool, make this little roadside gem a top spot for a quick bite with friends.
Patagonia Chocolates |
This small chain of only four cafes focuses on all things sugary and sweet! The owners found themselves longing for the exquisite chocolate of their Argentinian homeland and so established Patagonia in order to deliver the sweet, artisan delicacies to their community & visitors. Manufacturing their own chocolate and ice cream, each chocolate is made in-house and is crafted by hand while their ice cream stays true to their Italian & South American roots. These guys also roast their own coffee blends! Perfect when you’re after something on the sweeter side. Ash and I picked up a mini croissant platter, served with butter, jam and caramel with some lavender hot chocolates to wash it all down with.
Postmasters Restaurant |
On our way through to Queenstown, we took a little detour and stopped in at Arrowtown. This quaint, little place feels like you’re stepping back in time, as you’re surrounded by rich heritage in both the land and the buildings. Postmasters Restaurant is set in the carefully preserved historic cottage, once home to the town’s postmasters, and a main feature in the street since the 1860’s. We picked out some refreshing lemonade and some warm, fresh bread and dips to tide us over until dinner. The food here reminded me of things my grandmother might have made, and that warm, familiar feeling is made only all the more special by the setting. We chose to dine out on the verandah, surrounded by hanging wisteria and flower beds, soaking up the beautiful sunshine. Postmaster’s seasonal menu features fresh produce, gluten free and vegetarian options and showcases some of Central Otago’s wildly famous wines.
Aggy’s Shack |
Like I said, nobody does fish & chips quite like the kiwi’s, and Aggy’s Shack was no exception! There’s no sign of social media for Aggy’s, just word of mouth. Set in a small outdoor shack, down by Marine Parade, this local hotspot was even a personal favourite of Sir Ian McKellan’s! Unfortunately, after the owners passing in September last year, Aggy’s was closed in early 2015 to make way Skyline Enterprises’ new three-level building. So here’s to Aggy’s, who served up some of Queenstown’s (and it’s visitors) favourite fish & chips!
Other spots worth a mention…
The Cow Restaurant |
The Cow is an institution that has been serving customers since 1976 with a menu that hasn’t changed (and with good reason). Sitting down Post Office Lane, not only does the cosy, rustic interior of the old building (complete with wood burning fireplace) make you want to hang around for hours, these guys offer up some of the best pizza I’ve ever had (including some unique specialties like the bolognese pizza). With all of this goodness, nothing at all could ever quite match up to their garlic bread. Freshly baked loaves made in-house, are warmed and then drizzled in all of the butter, garlic and fresh herbs your tastebuds long for! Be sure to take friends – this place is made for sharing. (You’ll find The Cow in both Wanaka and Queenstown).
Devil Burger |
If burgers are what you’re craving, then Devil Burger in Queenstown is where you want to be. Holding not only almost every burger and wrap you could name on their menu, they also throw in a few specialities. And that brings us to sides….the nightlife in Queenstown is buzzing. Which ultimately leads to a sizable hangover and hunger after a night on the town. If the ‘green juice and dry toast’ route or ‘water and an Advil’ isn’t your fix, then I will bet you that Devil’s curry chips will be. Hot, crispy chips covered in a mild, golden curry sauce….your mouth will be watering for more in no time.