With the annual Twizel Salmon & Wine Festival fast approaching, what better time to explore the hidden delicacies of the high country? These dining experiences are unique to the Mackenzie Region and a “must-taste” on any foodie’s travels.
It’s true that the Mackenzie Region is home to amazing restaurants, where expert chefs prepare dishes showcasing the finest New Zealand ingredients. But some of the region’s best culinary experiences are a little more hidden, a step off the beaten track – and so tasty, they’re worth every bit of the journey.
– Fairlie –
A foodie’s tour of the Mackenzie begins just east of Fairlie at Fat Albert Smokehouse. Here traditional recipes are faithfully followed to produce the finest smoked goods, including salmon, duck, chorizo sausage and venison. Owners Keith and Alison Hatton strive to be chemical-free in their food production; most items are free from sulphites and many are gluten-free.
A “must taste” is one of the delicious pies at the Fairlie Bakehouse. These famous pies are made with fresh, quality meat sourced locally with no additives or preservatives. Delectable handmade offerings include the traditional mince and cheese, a tasty vegetarian option, and the very popular pork belly with apple sauce and crackling on top. If you fancy a sweet treat, the cronuts and cheesecake brownies are to die for!
– Tekapo –
Continue on to Tekapo and enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine lovingly crafted at Kohan Restaurant. Bento boxes are a great way to sample a range of food and the restaurant’s views of Lake Tekapo are simply beautiful. Feel like something sweet? The Tin Plate has New Zealand’s own Kapiti ice cream by the scoop, from Fig and Honey, to Nectarine, and the classic Triple Chocolate.
– Twizel –
Have you ever tried artisan cheeses made in an off-grid converted shipping container? The Cheese Room near Twizel is a fabulous little spot, a must-do experience with great views and amazing handcrafted Ben Ohau Road cheeses. Matt and Tracey Gunn are the talent here with Matt making the cheese and Tracey (who also has Rusty Halo Kitchen) making the relishes, sauces and crackers to accompany them. Tasty combos include Ben Ohau Blue (aka “Bob”) and Pickled Pears, and a soft halloumi known as Ohaulloumi with a Sweet Lemon Dressing.
If you’re feeling thirsty, grab a few bottles from Burkes Brewing, possibly the smallest brewery in the country producing world-class craft beers. Dark Sky Black is an intriguing black IPA named in a nod to the Mackenzie’s starlight reputation. Shepherd’s Delight is a refreshing amber ale and a great session beer. These and the rest of their craft brews (Mountaineers Breakfast Chocolate Oatmeal Milk Stout – yes please!) are available from the local bars and the supermarket too, so you can enjoy a quiet drop on the deck of your holiday home or in the comfort of your hotel.
Fresh alpine salmon raised in the pure glacial meltwater of the Southern Alps is a world-famous specialty of the Mackenzie Region. Don’t miss the chance to try it at its source. High Country Salmon is located just west of Twizel, offering a wide selection of salmon products and a unique “floating” café where you can feed the fish (free entertainment for the kids!). Mount Cook Alpine Salmon has a store on the shores of Lake Pukaki with naturally healthy salmon products and some of the best views you’ll ever see across the lake to mighty Aoraki.
The Mackenzie is also home to a range of wild game, from plentiful rabbits and hares to the more exotic Himalayan tahr and chamois mountain goats. Restaurants in the region periodically feature dishes celebrating this wild game – a real high country experience and one not to be missed.
Whatever your tastes, the Mackenzie Region has something for everyone. Enjoy an awesome foodie tour surrounded by amazing scenery and topped off by the warm hospitality of the friendly locals.