“How was the food in New Zealand?” We get that question a lot about our New Zealand trip. What they should be asking is, “Do their windows have screens?”
Food in New Zealand
The answer to the question about the food in New Zealand, it is pretty much like you’d find anywhere in the Western World, except it has a New Zealand flare. A fine example is Mike’s Famous Salmon Balls.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try Mike’s Famous Salmon Balls. I’m assuming they are similar to salmon patties but instead of a patty, they are shaped like a ball. What were you thinking they were like? We did get an opportunity to try scallops with their genitalia still attached.
No, we didn’t eat those either. We selectively picked around those parts.
About those Window Screens
We couldn’t find one window screen in NZ. All the windows we opened lacked any type of covering. This was shocking. Our first night sleeping with the windows open wasn’t very restful. All night I worried about what creatures might crawl in. Apparently, Dianne was worried about the same. In my dreams, mice kept popping in the house and I would catch them by the tail and fling them out the window. Dianne was dreaming about cats. She was herding them out the door with a broom. To our knowledge, nothing crawled into the house.
Go ahead and Google, “Window Screens in New Zealand.” I’ll wait here and when you get back I will share what we eat in New Zealand.
While anchored in the Milford Sound we tasted Yorkshire pudding for the first time. Milford Sound is as beautiful and as exotic as the internet pictures suggest. The Yorkshire pudding was delicious just not “Anthony Bourdain” exotic.
The Milford Sound was, as they say, a priceless experience. We booked an overnight cruise through Real Journeys. Look for a post about our adventure which includes a hike described by many “as the finest walk in the world.”
Plethora of Venison
One striking difference between the menu choices in New Zealand and in the US is the plethora of venison dishes. It was at the Lakeland House on Lake Taupo’s Waihi Bay when Chuck shocked us by ordering venison. On the face of it, this doesn’t sound too weird but Chuck is a vegetarian. Let’s just say if you’ve not eaten red meat in a bunch of years and suddenly eat several pounds, you are going to have a rough night.
After tripping through a Zen Rock Garden at Turangi Bridge Motel Bar & Restaurant, our taste buds were tantalized with some of the most decadent food in New Zealand. Confession time, we referred to this restaurant as the “Truck Stop” because we’d often see large trucks in the parking lot. But its food was far from what you’ll find at a truck stop. This is a lesson about not judging a book by its cover.
Another confession, the Zen Rock Garden incident was embarrassing. In our defense, hunger had addled our brains and it was DARK. No one mentions how dark it gets in New Zealand. We’d just spent the day winding our way down New Zealand’s Forgotten World Highway and were a bit slap happy. We made it back to Lake Taupo just in time to snap a sunset picture.
After parking our car with the “big rigs,” we strutted along a cute path to what we thought was the restaurant entrance. I may have tripped; as I said it as dark. It was not the restaurant’s entrance but its front window. We’d later learn the cute path was in a decorative Zen Rock Garden. Yes, it was a bit embarrassing for us, the people sitting at the table near the window, the waitstaff and probably the busboy. We ended up sitting in a corner away from the main room.
Tasty Minced Meat
Since Chuck was eating venison, I figured I should be adventurous too. So I ordered minced meat while we were in the Republic of Whangamomona. I’m not sure why I picked this remote location to go rogue. If I got sick, hell it would only take 6 or 7 hours to find an urgent care facility. I didn’t get sick and the minced meat was actually quite good. It tasted a little like the Salsbury Steak Sauce my mom use to serve on EVERYTHING.
In Wanaka, we found the Amigos Mexican Grill. I’m not going to lie, we felt right at home here. I could go for some of those tacos right now.
New Zealand Beer
It had superfast WiFi which was heaven. Damn good beer which we were grateful. And no trout on the menu which was surprising. You’d think with a catchy name like the Crafty Trout there would be at least one trout entree. Apparently buying or selling fresh wild trout is prohibited in New Zealand. Who knew? Not us. If you want to eat trout right out of a New Zealand river you’ll need to catch yourself. Some restaurants will cook your fresh catch for you.
Since we didn’t have a string of trout ready for the grill, Greg ordered the Glacier Flaming Ice and a Reuben sandwich.
Venison was apparently the goto for Chuck. His Blue Stag pizza came complete with spiced grape jelly and lettuce.
The sweet reward after a hike is usually beer. After our Fox Glacier Heli Hike, we searched for the Lake Matheson Cafe so we could have a view of a glacier with our Pan Head Supercharger APA. There are some moments that are so sublime, that months later you can still remember how warm the sun felt and how good the beer tasted.
The Rhyme and Reason Brewery looks pretty much like most of our favorite breweries in the US; creative with a hint of metal. We felt right at home with the bearded brewer behind the bar.
New Zealand Wine
It would be a crime to travel to New Zealand and not visit at least one winery. Here are the three we enjoyed the most.
Rippon Winery on Lake Wanaka is exactly how I imagined our winery experience would be. The location is just breathtakingly beautiful. You don’t want to leave.
If you are wondering, I’m using my handy-dandy Michigan map to share where I’m from.
Aitken’s Folly, is where we met Freckles the dog. He greeted us in the parking lot and we quickly became friends.
Fiona Aitken who runs the family vineyard with her husband and children shared their inspirational story with us while sampled wine and played with Freckles. Fiona and her husband moved from the UK in 2008 and they didn’t have any experience running a vineyard. They knew they loved wine and New Zealand, so why not give it a go. I could have stayed all afternoon and left wishing I were a bit younger and could move to New Zealand to start a vineyard.
Mt. Difficulty Wines was probably my favorite. The wine wasn’t necessarily any better, it was the warm sun, the view and the food. When the bread plate arrived I said, “Oh we will need a to-go box. We couldn’t possibly eat all of it.” We polished off every last crumb. My travel pals are still teasing me about that pronouncement.
I’ve saved the best for last, junk Food in New Zealand. Chuck loves a good chip and this did not change while were in New Zealand. Burger Rings were often paired with beer before bed.
Explore these links for more pictures from our entire trip to New Zealand
- White Island – New Zealand
- Forgotten World Highway
- Te Puia
- Heli-hike Fox Glacier
- Hiking New Zealand
- Milford Sound Overnight Cruise
- Travel Ideas on the North Island -New Zealand
- Travels Ideas on the South Island – New Zealand
- Wine, Beer, Food in New Zealand
Be sure to read our other stories from our trip to New Zealand including:
- Our 20-day first-timer itinerary to New Zealand
- The mysterious volcanic White Island
- A visit with the hobbits in Hobbiton
- Heli-hiking on Fox Glacier
- Hiking in New Zealand Easy Jaunts
- New Zealand’s Forgotten World Highway
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