Our Flightie Nicol headed to New Zealand on the culinary adventure of a lifetime with Intrepid Travel and discovered the South Island one dish at a time. Here she shares her gastronomic highlights. You’ll wish you were there to taste it for yourself!
New Zealand is known for its delicious cuisine – most notably the seafood, lamb, wine and beer. While I had set out to discover the culture and scenery of the South Island, I was lucky enough to discover New Zealand… one dish at a time. New Zealand is a phenomenal ever-changing, scenic, and delicious corner of the world I’ll never forget.
Our drive to Queenstown from Christchurch introduces us to a long, scenic journey through the unforgettable Southern Alps and the surrounding lakes and rivers. While many come to Queenstown to bungy jump, mountain bike, and kayak, our little group are here for the food.
In a cobblestone back laneway, we enjoy lunch at a fantastic microbrewery and dine on hearty meals like pork belly and bangers and mash.
At the lodge, fittingly named Mount Cook, we gather at the on-site Chamois Bar & Grill for some hearty pub fare. Most of us order burgers; I have the delicious venison burger generously smothered with a chorizo cream cheese spread. The menu is a goldmine of mouth-watering dishes; like the South Coast salmon cooked in a tomato shrimp sauce and the slow-roasted lamb served in a baharat spice flat bread with hummus and yogurt.
We enjoy an evening at a wine tasting lounge that serves more than 80 different varietals of wine (maybe all 80, some of us) and pair our wines with a delectable range of enticing cheese plates and charcuterie.
The next day we explore a resort town called Wanaka. We have lunch at a pub where I order a steak the size of my head (for only $15 CAD!) with a beer by local brew masters, Monteith’s.
One of the South Island’s largest cities, Dunedin is beautiful, picturesque… and delicious. Primarily a university city, Dunedin’s Scottish roots and heritage is present amongst a vibrant cafe culture, and a wide variety of cuisine, from traditional pub fare to vegan and vegetarian.
We enjoy an evening at the historic pride of the South – Speight’s Ale House, a pub that’s been around since 1876 and celebrate with a traditional hearty menu of refined classics. They serve everything from “drunk” rump steaks and tender Otago lamb shanks to their signature beer battered fish ‘n’ chips. For hearty pub fare right for the right price, I’d definitely recommend Speight’s. (I savour every bite of a medium-rare steak grilled to perfection while watching the sun set over the lake.)
Franz Josef Glacier
We hike the iconic Franz Josef Glacier the next day – an absolute must when in New Zealand – for magnificent crisp views of this beautiful, untouched, remote part of the world. The massive glacier starts at the top of the Southern Alps and descends into a rainforest.
We cap our leisurely morning hike through the glacier with a dip in the refreshing glacier hot pools. One of our last meals, we save the best for last, lunch at the Monsoon Restaurant & Bar in our hotel, The Rainforest Retreat, conveniently located in the Franz Josef Glacier village. The menu includes gourmet beef and bacon burgers, mussels steamed in a white wine sauce, and of course, pub staple, bangers and mash.
For more information about making your way through New Zealand with Intrepid one dish at a time, contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert by connecting with us online, calling 1-877-967-5302, or visiting your closest Flight Centre store.