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New Zealand, not just mountains and rings: cheese tourism

January 11, 2009

Mention  the word “cheese” and like me, you automatically take your taste buds to the rich creamy cheeses of France or the strong biting blends of Italy. Similar to wine, olive oil and truffles, Europe has made an art out of fine food and wine.  While Europe has had a stronghold on these industries, slyly working its way to the front in both name and reputation, are the southern rivals of New Zealand and Australia.

Cheese is big business in New Zealand, artisan cheese making is particularly at the top of this list. Although the country doesn’t have the centuries of tradition and method as the Europeans, thanks to the hands and skills of its early European settlers, cheese making in New Zealand is reaching maturation.

Cheese tourism is gaining ground as a popular way to not only see New Zealand but to taste some of the country. What better way to accompany some of the wines being produced here, but with cheese.

From the Northern region where Bohemians first settled over a century ago, Puhoi Valley, Northland, has crafted a delectable range of cheeses: blues, cream bries, cheddars. Best visited by car, as many sights in New Zealand are, Puhoi Valley will introduce you to the way things have always been in Northland New Zealand. Time may move slowly here but like a good cheese, time lets the best things mature.

by Lovely Foods NZ

by Lovely Foods NZ

There are over 27 small artisan cheese factories scattered throughout New Zealand. North to south, east to west. All hailing from deep family roots and recipes. One of my favourite areas to visit for wine and now cheese is Hawkes Bay, North Island – Te Mata. Warm, dry summer days, balmy evenings and scenery from heaven.

courtesey of Te Mata Cheeses

courtesy of Te Mata Cheeses

Drive further up the east coast towards Gisborne and not only will you strike it lucky with some of the best chardonnay wineries but also golden beaches, good surf and the first place in New Zealand to greet the sun.

by realesate nz

by realesate nz

Like its weather, New Zealand cheeses are well worth enjoying in summertime. Unlike its weather, the quality of cheeses are world ranking and dependable.

Even though I’m partial to a good biting cheddar, I love some of the creamy blue blends on offer: Kapiti Kikorangi Blue is a cheese that I pine for when I’m away from it, and that I curse when I’m near it – the taste will have you desiring more with each mouthful, but be prepared to compromise your hard fought youthful figure in return.

Think about taking a cheese trail while in New Zealand. These are becoming popular and most information places should have addresses of the factories. Or try the New Zealand Cheesemakers Association.

Caffeinated Traveller

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5 Comments
  1. January 12, 2009 2:51 pm

    Hi Cate! Sounds like you’re feeling better, I’m glad. I had a flu last month (Dec. 2008), that’s why I was “out of touch.” So I now take my daily dose of Vit. C plus multivitamins. The weather is kinda harsh the past months.

    Anyway, I like your post about NZ cheeses, I bet its world class. Though I am not a cheese person, my husband will be glad to hear about your post coz he’s a sucker for cheese! He will eat anything with cheese. I think its easy to convince him to visit NZ one day. I like your posts and photos about the places you traveled. Keep Posting! ^_^

  2. January 14, 2009 12:38 am

    That would make for an interesting list — the top 10 cheese travel destinations in the world. I think NZ would certainly be on it. There’s some good cheese tasting on the South Island too, especially in the central area around the town of Geraldine.

  3. Cate permalink
    January 14, 2009 2:29 am

    Yes a great idea for a top ten list. I would like to be the one travelling and sampling of course.
    Thanks for your comments Gigi, please make your husband take you on a trip to NZ.
    Yes SCS – Geraldine and Oamaru have great cheeses. And also further south there is a place called Evansdale cheeses. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

  4. January 15, 2009 7:49 pm

    I’ll keep that in mind. I fully expect dairy in general to be great in New Zealand.

    I’d love to find something like the Mungalli Creek Dairy.

    • January 16, 2009 7:26 am

      Biofarm is one brand you can find in most supermarkets. This specialises in organic produce. I think once you see the shelves of dairy produce you won’t be stuck for choice. Although I have heard that dairy products are expensive in NZ. As part of the global recession. Food in NZ is generally expensive so you may need a good disciplined budget.

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