Driving throughout South Island throws up native favourites like green-lipped mussels and different cosmopolitan fare.
The trams of New Regent Road seize consideration working by a postcard fairly backdrop. Photograph by: travellinglight/iStock Editorial/Getty Photographs
Most individuals come to New Zealand’s South Island for the character. We had been no exception. In January, my husband Bikram and I spent three weeks driving throughout the area, swimming in glacial lakes, sleeping off the grid, and strolling in nationwide parks. Nevertheless, as we travelled by its distant countryside and vacationer hotspots, we found one thing that shocked us—a vibrant meals scene, one the place recent native produce is used to rustle up dishes from throughout the globe.
In reality, from the very first day, New Zealand revealed surprising culinary delights. Our first cease was the South Island’s capital, Christchurch. We weren’t shocked by the vacant heaps and buildings encased in scaffolding—we’d heard concerning the 2011 earthquake. What we weren’t anticipating was fairly how buzzing Christchurch can be. As we sauntered down the sun-dappled streets, we found road theatre performers, craft markets, and better of all, a cosmopolitan eating scene.
Our first cease was the Curator’s Home, a Spanish restaurant in a heritage constructing nestled in Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens. We ordered a tapas tasting platter, and sat within the shaded outside courtyard, which missed inexperienced lawns bordered by hydrangea. Six dishes arrived, together with a bowl of succulent pork and beef meatballs, with a piquant mushroom sauce, and croquetas coated in a crispy panko-crumb coating. However there was one clear winner—the home-made chorizo. Beneficiant slices had been gently fried; the pork sausage-meat was tender and infused with paprika.
Later that day, we stopped at Hawker & Roll, a Malaysian road meals joint with communal tables and brightly colored stools. I ordered a beef rendang roll. The wealthy, candy, mildly-spiced filling was complemented by a garnish of sliced crimson chilli, freshly grated coconut and coriander leaves, and wrapped in a flaky roti canai. My husband rated it as the perfect meal of the journey.
Subsequent, we headed over to New Regent Road. The pedestrianised heritage streetscape regarded like a set from a Wes Anderson film, with its pastel Spanish Mission homes and trams. Right here we found Rollickin’ Gelato, an ice cream parlour with a queue out the door. We ordered one of many seasonal flavours, ‘Coal Four U’—activated charcoal blended with natural milk and studded with chunks of chocolate-coloured honeycomb (identified in New Zealand as hokey pokey). The charcoal added a touch of bitterness to the vanilla.
Seafood In Golden Bay
After recovering from jet lag, we drove out of Christchurch and up in direction of the scenic northern coast, stopping to chill off at a seashore close to Abel Tasman Nationwide Park. The remainder of the nation had the identical thought. Lobster-red sunbathers occupied virtually each inch of sand, and the seas heaved with individuals. We determined to get one thing to eat as an alternative.
“There’s a meals truck. New Zealand’s imagined to do nice fish and chips,” I mentioned, and Bikram was sport.
However the beer-battered squid rings and the panko-crusted fish burger failed to fulfill our expectations. The squid leaked oil and was rubbery and overcooked, whereas the dense bun marred the flavour of the fish. Fortunately, this was the one culinary low level of our journey.
We drove onwards, following alarming hairpin bends over Takaka Hill to Golden Bay, the place we had been to remain in an off-the-grid cedar cabin overlooking an estuarine bay. After a number of days of kayaking, biking and stargazing, we headed into the closest city, Takaka, for lunch. The inhabitants hadn’t acquired the memo that the ’70s had been over. Dreadlocked, tie-dyed hippies wandered barefoot previous wholefood cafés and retailers promoting shapeless, vibrant clothes.
Regardless of being a former tie-dye wearer myself, I discovered this over-the-top hippie tradition a tad overwhelming. We skipped lunch in Takaka. As an alternative we drove 10 minutes out of city to Anatoki Salmon, a spot the place vacationers and locals throng to catch salmon from a lake, and have it smoked or sliced into sashimi. There may be additionally a café that serves freshly caught fish. We ordered a salmon platter and sat below an awning overlooking the lake, watching as individuals tried to reel of their lunch with various levels of success. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than a big, white plate filled with salmon-based delicacies arrived. We tucked into crispy salmon croquettes, moist hot-smoked salmon and a creamy salmon pâté, unfold liberally over comfortable ciabatta bread. However the salmon was so recent it wanted valuable little adornment. My favorite had been the skinny slices of cold-smoked salmon, served with a soy sauce dip.
On our final day within the cedar cabin, we determined to stroll part of the Abel Tasman Coast Monitor, which meanders for over 63 kilometres by Abel Tasman Nationwide Park. After a couple of hours of following the path alongside forested cliffs and turquoise bays, we cooled off with a dip at Wainui Bay, with just a few individuals round. As I walked in direction of the ocean, I noticed a rock pool. Beneath the water lay a wood spur encrusted in mussels. I returned to my husband with fingers filled with gleaming blue-black shells, studded with small white barnacles.
“You aren’t going to eat these, are you?” he requested.
He has an intense mistrust of something I collect from the wild. Again within the cabin, I de-bearded the mussels, scrubbed the shells within the open-to-sky kitchen, and steamed them in white wine, garlic and cream. I ate them whereas watching the solar set, with a glass of regionally produced Stoneleigh Chardonnay. Plucked from the ocean just a few hours earlier than, they had been frivolously salted, plump and tender.
Foraging For Fish n’ Chips
We spent the following week driving down Freeway 6, a scenic route alongside the island’s weather-beaten Wild West Coast. After a few days within the quirky city of Hokitika, we headed to the small village of Franz Josef, the place we’d organized to go skydiving. We additionally determined to hike Robert’s Level Monitor, a nine-kilometre return hike as much as a viewing platform close to a glacier face. Knowledgeable by friends at our hostel that it was a simple stroll, we set out with a small bottle of water and a sandwich every, solely to be met with a barely regarding warning signal initially of the route:
“Robert’s Level Monitor is simply appropriate for knowledgeable, well-equipped trampers,” it learn. After which additional down the board, “Three individuals have died on Robert’s Level Monitor!”
“Don’t fear, 9 kilometres received’t take 5 hours,” I reassured my husband.
It took longer. Final night time’s rainfall had made the steep path slippery and unsafe.
Later, feeling faint with starvation, we headed to The Connoisseur Hangi Kitchen and Kiwi Fish & Chips—a meals truck in Franz Josef—and ordered some salt and pepper squid, and battered tarakihi and chips. Minutes later, we carried the nice and cozy, paper-wrapped parcel to our hostel. We ate on the balcony, looking at dramatic gray clouds and forested hills. The tarakihi was crispy on the skin and comfortable and flaky on the within. The squid was an actual hit—giant, tender chunks encased in a crispy, peppery coating. Lastly, New Zealand was residing as much as its repute for first rate fish and chips.
Sushi In The Southern Alps
Our subsequent cease was an Airbnb close to Lake Hawea, a 20-minute drive from Wanaka. We spent a day studying within the sun-tinted backyard, and swimming within the chilly waters of Lake Hawea. The day after, we headed into Wanaka, the busiest city we’d visited since Christchurch. The lakeshore was fringed with sunbathers, the streets lined with retailers, cafés and eating places. We had lunch at AmiGos Mexican Grill, the place we took full benefit of the two-for-one supply on all NZD6/Rs275 tacos. We tucked into comfortable tacos stuffed with crispy calamari and spiced chorizo, candy pulled duck with crispy pores and skin and acidic slices of inexperienced apple, and fried rooster with sweetcorn salsa. A frozen margarita was the proper accompaniment.
On the way in which residence, we stopped on the grocery store. I caught sight of a water tank stuffed with green-lipped mussels, indigenous to New Zealand and one of many largest species on this planet. I picked up three for NZD5/Rs230 (once more, my husband refused to eat them). That night, we positioned the mussels on the grill subsequent to a few beef steaks and a few home-made halloumi and crimson pepper skewers and watched because the shells slowly open up. I garnished them with some tomato salsa and a squeeze of recent lemon; the green-tipped mussels had been meatier than the generally out there black-shell selection.
After a pair extra days, we travelled inland alongside the Southern Alps to Lake Tekapo. Simply previous the village of Twizel, we stopped for lunch at Excessive Nation Salmon, a salmon farm and floating café on the glacial waters of Wairepo Arm. This space of New Zealand has a excessive inhabitants of Chinese language and Japanese immigrants and vacationers, a demographic element noticeable on the café’s menu. We ordered 4 salmon-based dishes—poke, sashimi, sushi and chowder—on the canteen counter, and took the plastic trays of sashimi and sushi again to our desk. I discovered the chowder somewhat too candy for my style, however the different dishes had been mild and recent. The salmon sushi was completely complemented by salty soy sauce and spicy inexperienced wasabi paste.
Three weeks in, when it was time to depart, we had been sorry to depart the South Island. Our culinary adventures didn’t take us to Michelin-starred eating places, with gleaming cutlery and crisp white tablecloths. As an alternative we revelled at meals vans, supermarkets, and produce plucked from the ocean. Even our takeaway was scrumptious: good meals doesn’t have to be dressed up in fancy guises. It tastes simply pretty much as good eaten outdoor off plastic plates or a wrap of paper; accompanied simply by soy sauce or a squeeze of lemon.
Getting There & Visa
There are not any direct flights from India to New Zealand. Flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Christchurch normally contain a number of layovers in Singapore or Melbourne.
Self drive could be very widespread in New Zealand. There are rental automobile depots in the primary cities and most regional airports. Your journey insurance coverage should cowl automobile rent. Guests want a present driver’s licence from their residence nation or an Worldwide Driving Allow (IDP). Like India, NZ drives on the left-hand facet of the street.
Purposes for a vacationer visa to NZ could be made on-line at www.immigration.govt.nz. It prices NZD210/Rs9,750 and takes 3-Four weeks to course of.
New Zealand’s local weather is normally delicate, however can change unexpectedly. It ranges from subtropical within the north to temperate within the south. Inland alpine areas of the South Island could be as chilly as -10°C in winter. Spring (Sep-Nov) sees a mean temperature of 11°C, summer season (Dec-Feb) round 26°C. Autumn/fall (Mar-Might) temperatures hovering round 15°C. Verify the climate earlier than planning your journey to nationwide parks.