A Winter in New Zealand

We're back and ready for summer!

May 17, 2017

By Valarie Gilmour

After two months of breathtaking travels throughout both islands of New Zealand, our journey has led us back home. We are excited to return to Ravenous and incorporate pieces of our adventure into creating dishes for our clients.

We began our trip flying into Christchurch and made our way to Stewart Island, 20 miles off the bottom of the South Island. There we embarked on the Rakiura, a 4-day tramping trip on the island. We experienced rain, hail and sun, just about every weather but snow. We took the Foveaux Express, the strait to Stewart Island, and one of the roughest ferry rides. Catching the ferry to Stewart Island without leaving a part of you somewhere in Foveaux Strait is considered a good crossing. This strait has been “stroppy from the start”, as the locals say. Carrying my 30-pound pack in crazy weather conditions proved to be exhausting some days. I truly could not see the trail at times because the mud was so thick. But, I did it, I stepped into my fears and I lived the dream! 

It was sometimes difficult to find camping spots. We have it easy here in the states. We can pull off and camp just about anywhere. Land in New Zealand is heavily protected and it should be here as well. Out of 60 days, we only had a roof over our heads for 17.We camped in a 2-person wilderness tent for 43 days with our awesome sleeping pads and comfortable pillows. We had our jet boil portable stove, food, water and Nathan's Van, which was well equipped.

People often ask what our favorite food was there and it is a difficult question to answer. Savory meat pies come to mind first. Thai chicken being one of my favorites. Sold nearly everywhere and a staple to New Zealand cuisine, we became hooked on these little wonders. Another favorite was the New Zealand green-lipped mussel, also known as the New Zealand mussel. Of course, the fish and chips were delicious. The best place we found for fish and chips was Boa Boa Food Company in Wanaka. A favorite dessert was a sorbet bar with pear and feijoa. The feijoa is a popular garden tree and its sweet fruit is commonly eaten. We were lucky to be there during harvest, so we could pick fresh fruit every day and take advantage of the farmer’s markets.

New Zealand cuisine is focused largely around local ingredients and varies with the seasons. With a primarily agricultural economy, the island nation of New Zealand yields produce from land and sea. New Zealand fare is British-based, with Mediterranean and Pacific Rim influences. New American cuisine, Southeast Asian, East Asian, and South Asian culinary traditions have become popular since the 1970s, creating a melting pot of ethnic foods.

New Zealand is filled with roundabouts; there are only a handful of stop signs/stop lights in the entire country. I never thought I would find myself missing a circular intersection, but these things are the best. Traffic flows so smoothly as you just keep going without stopping. We noticed right away that the main highways are like Blewett pass, only like on steroids. Driving on the opposite side of very steep and narrow roads often proved to be a bit scary.

On February 25th, Nathan surprised us with tickets to see Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen live in concert in Auckland. We flew from Christchurch to Auckland and Dave was able to reunite with his old friend Bob, whom he had not seen in over 25 years, what a treat. We saw Bruce in the spring of 2016 in Seattle and finished with his last show of the tour.