From foraging to fine dining: NZ foodie experiences that showcase Māori flavours


From foraging to fine dining: NZ foodie experiences that showcase Māori flavours
Here are some of the top foodie experiences that showcase Māori flavours across Aotearoa.

Te Ao Māori (the Māori world view) touches and informs all aspects of day-to-day life in Aotearoa New Zealand, even the way you eat. From foraging for a meal to dining on a delectable dish from a menu that has been influenced by long-standing traditions, these experiences offer a window into a rich and thriving culture.

Hiakai – Te Whanganui-a-Tara/ Wellington

From humble beginnings as a pop-up restaurant, Hiakai pushes the boundary on all things kai (food) by experimenting with traditional Māori cooking techniques and ingredients. The esteemed restaurant in Wellington harnesses local, native flavours and ingredients, presenting them through decadent dishes in a fine-dining setting.

Boasting cooking methods that have been passed down through generations, the restaurant aims to constantly innovate and showcase Te Ao Māori. Head chef, Monique Fiso, updates the menu in line with the changing seasons, with each new iteration inspired by a notion or legend from Māori lore.

Kai Waho – Taupō

Kai Waho is a rich, foraging experience, grounded in te ao Māori. Informed by storytelling and Māori customs, guests are offered a meaningful experience through a complete cultural and culinary experience.

Delving into the history of kai, Kai Waho transports visitors back in time by utilising pre-European cooking methods and challenges guests to forage and gather in order to enjoy the end result – a Māori feast. Kai Waho exemplifies a unique take on native flavours and incorporates Kaitiakitanga (protection and guardianship of the environment) to maintain balance and respect for the land’s bounty.

Karaka Cafe – Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington

Named after the native Karaka trees that line Lambton Harbour in Wellington, Karaka Cafe boasts an authentically ‘kiwi’ menu packed full of Māori flavours, spices and aromas repackaged in the form of modern, cafe-style foods. The cafe is renowned for combining a contemporary version of a hāngī (a traditional Māori cooking technique, loosely translated as ‘earth ovens’) in a bustling cafe setting, creating a menu packed full of smoke-style meats and char-grilled flavours.

The cafe champions Te Ao Māori from the moment you walk in the door, from a bilingual menu, to playing ambient Māori and indigenous music. The cafe aims to delight patrons with what is known as “The Karaka Experience” by offering a fresh take on native Māori ingredients, expertly brewed barista coffee, all designed to scintillate the senses of sight, sound and taste.

Pātaka Kai Restaurant, Bar and Café – Rotorua

Nestled in the heart of the incredible Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, Pātaka Kai Restaurant, Bar and Cafe allows diners to take in the spectacular sites of the vast geothermal reserve as they indulge in an extravagant hāngī buffet that includes Kaimoana (seafood), Mānuka smoked ham, hāngī chicken or lamb shanks.

The buffet infuses native flavours, spices and preparation methods, with an array of cuisines and cooking styles, all prepared and cooked at the hāngī pit onsite. No visit to Pātaka Kai is complete without treating yourself to a burnt brown sugar steamed pudding. The delicious dessert is cooked in Mother Nature’s own oven, a natural steam vent located within the Te Whakarewarewa valley, giving manuhiri (visitor or guest) a flavoursome experience unlike any other.



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