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New Zealand South Island road trip


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I was thinking of doing a food blog of my recent trip through parts of New Zealand's south island.  Most of the food we had was nothing spectacular, but the experiences and various scenery we had over the trip were amazing.  Is there any interest in this?

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2 minutes ago, gfweb said:

Of course!

I second that!

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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41 minutes ago, KennethT said:

I was thinking of doing a food blog of my recent trip through parts of New Zealand's south island.  Most of the food we had was nothing spectacular, but the experiences and various scenery we had over the trip were amazing.  Is there any interest in this?


Does a bear shit in the woods!?



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18 minutes ago, TicTac said:


Does a bear shit in the woods!?



The nice thing about NZ is that many of the hiking trails have bathroom facilities... how does this happen in a remote area with no power or water service you may ask?  The bathroom is basically a small hut with a hole in the ground and a seat over the hole.  So maybe the bears use that?  BTW, the huts do have an exhaust vent pipe, but the fan that does the exhaust is wind powered.... which is great when the wind blows - it doesn't really smell so bad in there, but if the wind doesn't blow - wow... I think the bears would have to go REALLY BADLY in order to be able to stand it in there.

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OK - you'll have to forgive me for any typos or any statements that don['t make sense as I am exhausted right now.  While NZ's time difference to NY is not that great (it's forward 18 hours, but that means your body only feels a 6 hour time difference, but the next day - so right now it's 10:30 AM in NY on 12/30, which means it's now 4:30AM on 12/31 in NZ), the amount of flying time (hence time not sleeping very well or at all) is really long.  Air New Zealand doesnt' fly direct from NY - although that will change in October 2020, and the closest city that it does fly from is Houston, with a flight time of about 15 hours.  But, flying Economy on Air New Zealand was about twice the price of Premium Econ. on Singapore Airlines (the NY - SG direct only has Prem Econ and Biz) but the flying time is a lot longer as SG is pretty far out of the way.  Also, since we were going to South Island, we'd need 3 flights on ANZ (NY - Houston, Houston-Auckland, Auckland-Christchurch) which always makes me nervous that weather or something can cause you to miss a flight which could then screw everything up. The SG route has two flights as SA flies direct to Christchurch which is exactly where we wanted to start our trip.


For the food on teh flights, see


I am always impressed by the quality and selection of SA's menu.  Plus, the service is really attentive, friendly and efficient.


The last time I flew the NY-SG route, it took us straight North out of NY, almost directly over the North Pole, however, this time, due to weather, they took an alternate route which crossed central Asia and the Middle East... looking at the map, it was hard to tell exactly where we were, but there was some nice scenery from 40,000 feet:









Once we arrived in Christchurch, we decided to have lunch in the airport as were about to start our road trip and had no idea when we'd find somewhere to eat.




We went to the noodle place and had a very lackluster bowl of noodle soup - above is a wonton-noodle soup - the broth had one flavor - salt - it was bit better when I added some chili paste to it.  My wife got a bowl of katong style laksa, not pictured... she said hers was as lackluster as mine.


We then proceeded to rent our car and got on the road.  We decided that we were awake enough to take a slight detour (about an hour each way) to see Kura Tawhiti, in Canterbury, on our way to our destination, Oamaru.  You might recognize Kura Tawhiti from the Lord of the Rings...












View of the scenery on the other side of the parking lot:



Once we got to Oamaru and checked into the motel, we went out for a quick bite to eat.  We were thoroughly exhausted, so I forgot to take a picture of the name of the restaurant, but it was pretty tasty and had a nice view....





Pork dumplings (recommendation of the waitress) - I think they were pork - they were pretty good, but kept falling apart.



Seafood platter for two. Crab, marinated shrimp, salmon, scallop ceviche, clams



came with garlic bread and regular bread.  It seems that garlic bread is an appetizer at just about every restaurant we visited.


We were supposed to see the Blue Penguins, which Oamaru is famous for, at 9:30PM (they come back to their nest just after sunset) but we were so tired, we decided to skip it.

Edited by KennethT (log)
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We skipped breakfast the next day and set out to continue our trip.  The next stop was Queenstown, most famous for being the extreme sport capital of the world - the place that brought us bungy jumping.  Anyway, we didn't partake in anything extreme...


On teh way to Queenstown, we stopped at the Moeraki Boulders... but before seeing the sight itself, had lunch at the cafe above the beach.


The view from our table



Fish and chips... the fish is local Blue Cod and was perfectly fried - the batter was nice and crispy and the fish perfectly cooked.  Oddly enough, the ketchup (called tomato sauce) that came with had a strong flavor of clove!












The spherical boulders are hollow and after enough erosion from the sea, break open.


Upon leaving the site, we went back to teh cafe to get a sausage roll (something I've never had before) for the road.

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After the boulders, we visited another site about 10 minutes away to see some of New Zealand's fur seals.









He wasn't barking - he was yawning.... lazy seal...






After Shag Point, we continued on our journey to Queenstown (about 3-4 hours), warming our just-out-of-the-refrigerator sausage roll on the dashboard:




About mid-way to Queenstown, we stopped for our sausage break:


Our snack companions next door to the picnic area



The sausage roll.  It wasn't very good - first of all, I probably should have let it warm up a bit more, but the pastry was really doughy and barely flaky and the sausage was like a flavorless hot dog...  but it was improved by the view from our picnic table:


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After all the detours, we arrived at our Queenstown hotel around 6PM.  By the time we checked in, parked our car, and settled in, we decided to have dinner at the hotel's pub type restaurant, since our hotel is about 10 minutes outside of Queenstown proper.



View from our table - the water is lake Wakatipu.



Salt and pepper squid



Lamb shank with mashed potato football.



I think this was like a NY strip - but they called it something else.  The lamb shank was very tender, but the sauce had not much flavor and while the steak was cooked properly, it was pretty dry.  All in all, the food here was pretty average, but it definitely sated us for the evening.  What's interesting is the weather here.  Most days were about 60-65degF.  But it was always windy, which would make it seem much colder. BUT! When the sun was out, it felt like it was 80degF!  it's amazing how strong the sun is there.  I think this is because there's supposedly a hole in teh ozone layer above NZ - we saw a lot of people badly sunburned.  We enver had an issue - we always wore long shirts/pants and put sunscreen everywhere else.  When we first sat down, it was sunny and warm, but soon after dinner was served, teh sun dipped behind a building and it got instantly chilly, but we were enjoying the view so we didn't bother asking to change tables.  By thte time we were finished, we were very happy to go back inside and warm up.


The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel, which I didn't bother taking pictures of because everyone has seen the most mediocre hotel breakfast ever.  So my breakfast every day was basically a mediocre croissant and an apple - maybe I'd add a mini blueberry muffin once in a while.


After breakfast, we headed up to Wanaka (about an hour away) to visit a winery.  My wife had set up our appointment since she's in the wine biz.  One of the owners of the property showed us around and talked to us for about an hour before dropping us off at their tasting room to join their tasting.


The winery is Rippon, which makes some excellent wines, as well as having a beautiful property.








Central Otago is known for their pinot noir, of which we had 3, but this winery also makes Sauvignon Blanc, which is very different from the Marlborough version which is so famous.  They also make a Riesling and Gewurtz... the rose is not make all the time, but is a saigne, and another wine they started making recently is the Osteiner, which is a crossing between Riesling and Sylvaner, and was, perhaps, my favorite of the day, but it's hard to say because their Emma's Block pinot was stunning as well.

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Oh those rounded rocks - I just want to run my hand over them. I'v been into public art lately so my first glance at your sausage roll on the dash elicited the thought that it was interesting road art - but in the middle of the road? 

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2 minutes ago, heidih said:

Oh those rounded rocks - I just want to run my hand over them. I'v been into public art lately so my first glance at your sausage roll on the dash elicited the thought that it was interesting road art - but in the middle of the road? 

Middle of the road?  I don't understand... NZ drives on the left side of the road which took a bit of time to get used to.  My wife took that photo while I was driving.

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After our winery visit, we went into the town (city?) of Wanaka to get some lunch.  This was one of the best meals of the trip...


We went here:


Unlike many of the restaurants, it's not on the main street with a view of the lake - it's set back on a side street and down an alley. While they had their share of tourists, lots of locals were there as well.


The table setting and our view:





Fried local blue cod tacos with chipotle aioli and chimichurri.  These were amazing.



Pressed chicken sandwich with caramelized onion and brie - really tasty.


To drink:


Interestingly, this lemon/lime soda had a dash of bitters in it. My wife had a ginger based soda (not ginger ale) not pictured.


After lunch, we took a hike to the Diamond Lake Conservation Area (probably not the best idea to do that right afterwards, but oh well) to see some of the scenery.





I loved the reflections off of Diamond Lake.


Views of Lake Wanaka:




Some idiot's finger got in the way











Wild flowers.

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58 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Middle of the road?  I don't understand... NZ drives on the left side of the road which took a bit of time to get used to.  My wife took that photo while I was driving.


Oh you are literal ;) I should have said "in the road". The foxgloves are lovely popped up naturally in the field. Sounds like they have the fish fry nailed.  

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3 minutes ago, heidih said:


Oh you are literal ;) I should have said "in the road". The foxgloves are lovely popped up naturally in the field. Sounds like they have the fish fry nailed.  

Sorry.  In my exhausted, jetlag addled mind, I couldn't make heads or tails of it!


There were wildflowers all over... we didn't take that many photos of them as we should have...


Here's a shot I found - this was near the boulders...




ETA: yes - practically everywhere we went, the fried fish was done really well.

Edited by KennethT (log)
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After our hike, we drove back to Queenstown - this was Christmas Eve, and lots of places were going to be closed on Christmas and we needed to go food shopping for our picnic planned along our drive on Christmas Day.  After our food shopping in Queenstown, we decided to stick around the city and have dinner there.  Parking in Queenstown is expensive.  Street parking costs teh same asa  parking lot - NZ$2.00 per half hour! 


We went to a place that was highly rated on Tripadvisor - it turned out to be in the prime tourist district, which is basically all of Queenstown proper, but this was on a street closed off to traffic, so is especially trafficked by tourists, many of whom by that time of evening were either drunk, in the process of getting drunk, or preparing to get drunk.


We went to a place called teh Fat Lamb...



Paua dumplings - Paua is like a local abalone and is quite a delicacy.  Unfortunately, they were minced so finely, you couldn't really tell what you were eating.  The dumpling skins were good though.



lamb rib chops - I think these were cooked SV - but the problem is that the fat never really softened properly...



Blue cod fish/chips...



Crispy potatoes - chunks of potato covered in what seemed like parmesan cheese

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