Since discovering New Zealand a few years ago, Mavis Teo has been back a number of times. Something which really took her fancy was the New Zealand "hunter gatherer" culture and her latest full article, beautifully written as usual can be seen here. It focuses on the time she spent in the Kaikoura region, which we organised for her together with our most excellent partner Chris Sturgeon of Hapuku Lodge. The article appears in this month's Prestige Magazine in Singapore.
This wild food gathering is an aspect of the country close to many locals' hearts, but which doesn't often make it into cyberspace as something defining. Possibly as it's more difficult to access than what is normally talked about.
When New Zealanders have time off they head for the sea, lakes, rivers, mountains. Of course some focus on adrenaline, others on views, others on relaxation. But quite a few focus on food. Wild food. Gathering, preparing, cooking and eating it. This can be in the form of shellfish, sea fish (caught with a line, a net, a speargun or by hand), edible greens (ask Tom Loughlin about water cress, piko piko etc), and meat - pig, goat, deer, chamois, tahr, rabbit, hare, duck.
One of our major focuses, in connecting travellers to New Zealand, is to provide experiences around these food-based activities. Just last week I was discussing flows and cooking methods at a whitebait stand on the West Coast. The locals we dropped in on there included a man who'd owned and run our premier wilderness catering company, who supplied delicious food to quite a number of Hollywood blockbuster crews in his time. I'm keeping his tips secret :) But it shows what depth of talent we can uncover when dropping into a remote wild west coast fishing camp.
A couple of weeks before that I was up in Northland, sampling the delicious oysters. And then lucky enough to be with Harvey Hutton on the wild West Coast of the South Island again on crayfish and titi (muttonbird).
There is quite a culture around the finding and cooking of the wild food. Often the places are wild and beautiful. Often the people are the same! But it will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever travelled, that local gastronomy is often at the heart of a culture. And when it is so relatively easy to find in a place as beautiful as New Zealand, then the entire experience can be oh so much more than what the internet points you to.