The Taste of Luxury in New Zealand
For many of New Zealand's luxury lodges farm to table dining is a no-brainer. When farm-fresh food is grown right on your doorstep, why would you look further afield? That's why the farm-to-table experience is something you'll find in luxury accommodation all over the country. "It's something a little bit extra, something a little bit out of the ordinary – there seems to be a growing culture of it. It is a growing movement within New Zealand." James Honore, Head Chef The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
But what does farm-to-table mean? And why is it so important?
Farm to table — a worldwide movement in New Zealand
The fresher the food, the better it tastes. The less it travels, the better for the planet. These are some of the simple philosophies behind the farm-to-table, aka farm-to-fork, movement.
Many restaurants buy their supplies from many parts of the country — or even overseas. But farm-to-table dining keeps it local. These chefs source their food from farms, orchards and market gardens within a few miles of the kitchen.
Some go even further. New Zealand's a farming nation at heart outside the cities, and many of our most luxurious lodges sit snugly within working farms. So, guests can delight in food served fresh from farm gardens or fish straight from the sea. With that in mind, here are eight of New Zealand's best farm-to-table experiences.Feast in the North
From sub-tropical Northland to the wineries of Wairarapa, these lodges offer delicious food and farm experiences to delight all their guests.
You can taste it in the ingredients delivered straight from the garden to the kitchen. And add to the experience by taking farm tours that show exactly where your food is coming from. Or simply enjoy a wander around the veggie gardens and orchards.The Landing Residences
Relax in one of the Landing's four beautiful residences and enjoy meals lovingly prepared from ingredients grown in the surrounding gardens and orchards. Personal chefs cater for each house and base their menus around the seasonal produce.
The guiding philosophy here is "let the produce shine." That's easy when 80% of the herbs and vegetables come from organic gardens, not to mention the aromatic wine grown and made on the estate's very own vineyards.
The Landing's conservation property is a three-hour drive or a 55-minute helicopter flight from Auckland. Being in the heart of New Zealand's historic treaty-settlement region and the stunning Bay of Islands coast, there's plenty to do here. From history and culture to fishing and farm tours you’ll find something for everyone to enjoy.TreeTops Estate, Rotorua
This elegant lodge is nestled in 2500 acres of private native forest near Rotorua and offers authentic daily seasonal dining. Every morning the chefs gather garden vegetables and meet with the estate gamekeeper to decide on the meat for the day.
And what a selection they have to choose from. Wild deer, elk, water buffalo, wild pig, lamb and rabbit are just some of the animals on TreeTops Estate. Then there's the manuka honey from the farm's beehives and abundant fruit and vegetables from orchards and gardens.
Treetops offers guests more than a dining experience. You can also help gather and prepare the food when you take one of their innovative wild food or cooking school tours.
To get there, drive or fly from Auckland or Wellington to Rotorua, then go 20 minutes into the increasingly beautiful wilderness on SH30.The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
"For us it's about giving a sense of place and it gives us a story behind each dish," says The Farm's head chef James Honore.
30-minutes from Napier, this beautiful lodge is perched on cliffs overlooking the wild Pacific Ocean. And it's in one of the sunniest, warmest and most fertile regions of New Zealand. No wonder that James can offer the freshest, locally grown ingredients to his guests.
Hawkes Bay is filled with stone fruit orchards and wineries, so there's plenty of variety on offer. Almost all the cheese and meat comes from local farms, too, and of course, The Farm's chefs harvest vegetables straight from their extensive gardens.
You're bound to work up an appetite for delicious fare when you stay at The Farm. Hikes across the farm, CanAm adventure tours, clay-bird shooting and a trip to the famous Cape Kidnappers gannet colony are just some of the many activities on offer.Wharekauhau Lodge, Wairarapa
"What are we growing at the moment?" That's the question that Wharekauhau Lodge chef Shane Gravatt asks himself each morning when he's deciding the daily menu. Fortunately for his guests, he's got a long list to choose from.
Wharekauhau sits on a working sheep farm, with 2500 Romney sheep grazing the 5500 acres. So, naturally, lamb is often on the menu — and eels from the local creeks. Shane might garnish your meal with crab apple jelly or native kawakawa leaves, plums or even figs from the farm orchard.
Honey from the bees thriving on the local wildflowers, eggs from the 25 chickens in their spacious coop next to the veggie garden… it's no wonder that guests rave over the meals at Wharekauhau Lodge.
Drive to Wharekauhau on the 1.5-hour scenic route from central Wellington or arrive via the longer 4-hour drive from Napier. Either way, once you reach the beautiful Wairarapa region, be warned. You may not want to leave!
Farm-fed Luxury in the South
Some say they feel like they're in a different country when they land on the South Island.
The dramatic mountains, rugged coastlines and winter snows certainly make for different weather and scenery from the North Island.
Nevertheless, these five South Island luxury hotels grow their own meat, vegetables and even olives to provide an unforgettable farm-to-table experience.Edenhouse, Orinoco Valley, Nelson
"Every weekend we'd go to my grandparents. They had beautiful gardens and you'd anticipate your grandmother's freshly baked Granny Smith apple pie or raspberry jam. I wanted to create the same thing here for our guests."
Co-owners Peter and Bobbie Martin know how to create memories for their guests. That surely includes the exquisite meals prepared from local ingredients in New Zealand's other "sunniest region."
At Edenhouse, it's all about recreating childhood experiences — "all the wonderful fresh food we grew up with and took for granted," says Bobbie.
Edenhouse nestles in the Orinoco Valley, an hour's drive from Nelson and even closer to the Abel Tasman National Park. There are hiking trails, kayaks and gorgeous beaches waiting for you to come and fall in love with this beautiful corner of New Zealand.Hapuku Lodge, Kaikoura
You'll find this environmentally conscious hotel on a deer breeding farm only a kilometer from the rugged Kaikoura Coast. It's the perfect place to relax, unwind and explore.
How about whale watching, cycling, hiking, olive picking or relaxing in your luxury treehouse?
Whatever you choose, make sure you're back for dinner. You won't want to miss the delicate Kaikoura crayfish, free-range chicken or fresh salads straight from the garden. Hapuku Lodge staff are equally sure you'll enjoy the wine list too. Almost all the wine on offer comes from small independent wineries around the region.
Driving is the best way to get to Hapuku Lodge. You'll find it just off SH1, 1.5 hours south of Blenheim and just 12km from Kaikoura township.Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch
"I can go down to the garden and get a zucchini that has just been picked or a carrot fresh out of the earth or cut some herbs in the early evening so the flavour is just phenomenal. It's quite magical when you pick a strawberry or a tomato and it's still warm from the sun."
Jimmy McIntyre, head chef at Otahuna Lodge, loves the seasonal food he gets to work with at this grand Victorian-era lodge.
If he wants nuts, he picks them from the estate's hazelnut bushes and walnut trees. If he's got mushrooms on his mind, he picks porcinis from under the oak trees or oyster mushrooms and shiitakes from their boxes in the old apple house.
And if Jimmy's after vegetables, the magnificent potager gardens supply him with melons, cucumbers and all manner of greens. All in all, the property grows 140 different foods right there for guests to enjoy in the restaurant. Doesn't that sound like foodie heaven?
Otahuna Lodgeis easy to find, only a 30-minute drive from Christchurch airport on the beautiful Banks Peninsula.Minaret Station, Wanaka
Our final luxury lodge is probably the most remote hotel in New Zealand. No roads lead to Minaret Station at the head of Lake Wanaka. Instead, guests arrive by helicopter from Queenstown or Wanaka township.
Minaret's a giant working sheep and cattle station offering guests hunting, fishing, heli-biking, guided farm tours and more.
In the evening, everyone gathers together around a shared table to sample the day's specials.
They dine on free-range venison, Te Mana Lamb and Angus Beef — all from the farm — and produce from local suppliers. Even though they're so far inland, the seafood is fresh too, helicoptered in from Stewart Island and the West Coast.
If you want country dining and off-grid luxury living, your Minaret Station experience is something you'll never forget.