Aug 16, 2023

Unique or unconventional gastronomic experiences: Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

Hawke’s Bay Food and Wine Country is the ideal destination to discover a true taste of Aotearoa, New Zealand. With a reputation as an agricultural and farming powerhouse, Hawke’s Bay delivers an enticing combination of fresh, quality produce as well as passionate producers, artisans and urban restaurateurs who serve up New Zealand’s foremost array of provenance-led, culinary experiences.

The region’s unrivalled bounty ensures visitors experience the full gamut of paddock to plate, grape to glass and tree to table feasting. However, when quality is a given, where should the most epicurean of travellers go?

Church Road Winery’s TOM Experience is an excellent first stop. This premium wine and food tasting encounter is conducted within the winery’s original concrete wine tanks. Named in honour of Church Road’s founder, Tom McDonald – a key innovator in the creation of the Hawke’s Bay wine industry – the experience matches flights of current and back vintage TOM wines (the winery’s top tier wine) alongside expertly paired, locally-sourced, cuisine.

Next stop for gourmands must be one of Aotearoa’s most innovative eateries. Pacifica is hidden in an unassuming, blue bungalow on Hawke’s Bay’s waterfront. However, its understated exterior belies the renowned brilliance of chef Jeremy Rameka. Of Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngapuhi descent, Rameka focuses on bringing old flavours forward in his predominantly seafood menu and using techniques natural to him while retaining the integrity of fresh ingredients. This is authentic kai (food) from a master craftsman.

Another hidden, gourmet escape can be found deep in Central Hawke’s Bay countryside. Wallingford is a restaurant, luxury lodge, working farm and trufferie all in one. Foodies looking for an elevated ‘taste of place’ need look no further, as chefs Christopher Stockdale and Connor Mertens use locally sourced, seasonal and foraged produce in their everchanging tasting menu. It is a special experience indeed to visit during truffle season (June-August) and participate in a truffle hunt before enjoying a truffle degustation that evening.

Not limited to cuisine, one of Hawke’s Bay’s unique gastronomic experiences is beverage-based, and found in the hidden speakeasy, Teresa. Named for the owner’s grandmother, Teresa delivers an extensive range of unique cocktails, infused with the ethos of sustainability and foraging. The intimate venue – which seats up to 25 – was recently awarded “Best Drinks List” at New Zealand’s leading culinary awards, the Cuisine Good Food Awards. Teresa is the ultimate aperitif go-to.

Cheese connoisseurs cannot miss an afternoon with local Master of Cheese, Juliet Harbutt. In this three-hour immersive experience guests taste their way through Aotearoa’s best and tastiest cheeses alongside Hawke’s Bay’s finest wine, beer and cider. It is an afternoon where the cheese is both the storyteller and story, and non-believers will be persuaded to become cheese addicts, such are Harbutt’s skills of persuasion

Lear more about Hawke’s Bay Great Wine Capital


Photo by Michael Farr