We all know Central Otago is famous for its world-class pinot noir.
However, there’s much more to the region than wine – succulent summer fruits, crisp apples, organic vegetables, fragrant herbs, extra-virgin olive oils, sweet treats and tender merino lamb are all produced in the stunning region.
The gastronomic delights produced in Central Otago are continuously breaking new frontiers and pushing flavour palates.
From new varieties and foods, to unique cuisine combinations, to technological innovation, there is a veritable bounty of tantalising aromas, vibrant flavours and authentic textures to enjoy.
These foods of rare quality and exquisite taste hail from a variety of microclimates in the mountains and valleys of this alpine region. Townships like Ettrick, Millers Flat, Roxburgh, Earnscleugh, Alexandra, Clyde and the Cromwell basin.
A climate unique in New Zealand, characterised by freezing winters and very hot summers; here the vividness of the seasons is reflected in the intensity of the flavours.
Growers and producers work with these natural values every day. They understand and respect them. Their knowledge, passion and dedication hold the promise of unrivalled culinary experiences.
Taste the best fruit in New Zealand
Often referred to as the fruit bowl of the south, Central Otago is the country’s third-biggest fruit growing area producing pipfruit – apples and pears; and summer fruits – apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums for export and local markets.
A trip here isn’t complete without a stop at a pick-your-own orchard. Treat yourself to a Central Otago apricot, particularly famous in New Zealand for being juicy and sweet with an intense tangy aftertaste. The region’s sweet, plump, red cherries are also much sought after.
The roadside fruit stalls dotted throughout the province have become a local cultural icon. Some have operated for generations, selling tree-ripened fruits at the orchard gate.
They offer easy access to an abundance of fresh, seasonal fruits for eating, preserving and cooking.
Passionate growers and food producers
A foodie trip through Central is an opportunity to meet the people behind the foods – characters with tenacity, who aren’t afraid to stand apart.
Coming together across generations, they combine formal education, knowledge, skills and the wisdom of their forebears.
A respect for the land is vital. They work sustainably, innovatively and in concert with the climate and the environment, nurturing their crops and foods with care and attention; intent on capturing and staying true to the tastes and textures of Central Otago.
Food festivals and events
RIPE 2024: food & Wine Festival Wanaka
This year’s festival promises an unparalleled experience with 25 wine and 15 food vendors, ensuring a diverse array of flavours and aromas to tantalise your taste buds.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, a foodie, a music enthusiast, or someone seeking a premium VIP experience, RIPE 2024 has something for everyone. Mark your calendars for March 23 and visit Glendhu Bay for a day of exquisite tastes, delightful sounds, and unforgettable moments.
Festival tickets on sale now from www.ripewanaka.nz/tickets
Each Spring, Central Otago’s restaurants, cafés and country pubs collectively produce a Central Otago Regional Menu that celebrates the regions unique history, flavours and landscapes.
Timing a visit to coincide with this month-long event, is a great way to explore the four corners of the region on a food tour with a difference.
With a range of categories and people’s choice voting, there is fun to be had choosing a favourite from the dishes created by Central Otago’s talented chef’s.
Visit eattastecentral.co.nz to check out the list of menu items.
Wineries with world-class restaurants
Did you know – approximately 80% of Central Otago’s wine is produced from the Cromwell basin and that Central Otago has the highest percentage of sustainable/organic vineyards in New Zealand?
And when you grow great wine, you serve great food.
With names like Mt Difficulty, Carrick, Wild Earth and Cloudy Bay – there are some fabulous food and wine options around the Cromwell and Bannockburn at which to relax with your favourite wine and sensational food.
Possibly one of Central Otago’s best-known wine labels and restaurant – with the most stunning location overlooking the Bannockburn Sluicings, Mt Difficulty and vineyards.
Chef Gwen works her magic on the best of local produce to complement the excellent range of Carrick wines.
The Stoaker Room
Fabulous food cooked in wine barrels. Wild Earth Wines owner Quintin Quider has created a special way of preparing food that brings out the best of flavours.
The Cloudy Bay Shed is perfect for that extra special experience, offering a spectacular view over Lake Dunstan.
Charming bakeries and cafés
Three friends with a love for pies couldn’t find the ones they liked, and as the story usually goes, decided to make and sell their own. The result is Sanga’s Pies, where the wares are baked with 3 things: love, patience and quality ingredients.
The secret to a good pie, they say, is love, patience and quality ingredients. “Because we’re a small bakery, we’re not aiming to mass produce. We’re making it by hand,” says Miro Kollar.
Set in category 1 heritage buildings and with its full range of options, Olivers in Clyde is a destination to seek out.
On site there is a café, delicatessen, breads baked on sites, restaurant, bar, and craft brewery.
The Waipiata Pie Co.
Hidden away in the remote Maniototo the Waipiata Pie Co is creating a bit of a buzz – and not just locally.
“We have people coming from an hour away to have meals,” says owner Mike Button. “Everybody’s heard about the pies and they choose to stay here because of it.”
This is definitely not just a steak and cheese pie range, it includes flavours like pumpkin, ricotta and spinach, wild venison, chicken and chorizo, Thai lamb and more.