Visitors to New Zealand can now embark on a range of new adventures across the country through New Zealand In Depth where their food will be cooked by mother nature. From a natural flame in a rainforest, to boiled eggs in a thermal spring; making your own honey to a traditional Hangi where Maori cook a full dinner in an underground hot stone oven, dining in New Zealand has never been so interesting.
“New Zealand has some of the best foraged and farmed food in the world, and some of the most diverse and fascinating wilderness and traditions you are ever likely to find – we have combined these together to bring our gests a new and interesting way to experience food and nature combined in a range of different ways,” says Paul Carberry, founder of New Zealand In Depth. “This is as much about getting hands on as it is about enjoying the eating as well.”
First of the new experiences is the bizarre flames found flickering from the floor of a rainforest near Murchison on New Zealand’s South Island. Burning virtually non-stop for almost a century, it’s a seepage of natural gas that was thought to be lit by a couple of curious farmers who followed their noses while out hunting. It is rumoured that the flames have been flickering beneath the fern leaves ever since, used for cooking and making billy tea by passing visitors – and now the highlight of a four-hour tour in the area with pancakes and ‘billy’ tea cooked over the flames.
“There is no better way to work with nature, than to take its natural quirks and cook a nice hot snack, or boil a refreshing cup of tea,” says Sally Lilley, Director at New Zealand In Depth. “With natural flames, geothermal hot springs and icy glaciers, there are great ways to bring the local environment onto your plate, or into your glass.”
Further south at Buzzstop in Queenstown, guests are able to help gather the nectar of mother nature’s larder and make their own jar of honey. Visitors will not only learn about the variety of honeys produced in New Zealand but will also get hands on to extract and bottle a personalised jar of honey – a true one off.
Next stop on the naturally cooked food trail is in Rotorua – a famous spot for geothermal bubbling mud pools and piping hot springs. Here it’s time for lunch including an egg sandwich cooked directly in a geothermal hot spring – mother nature once again providing the ‘cooker’.
The last stop for guests embarking on this new culinary journey includes a traditional Māori Hangi in Rotorua – where a dinner of fish and chicken, and root vegetables such as kumara (sweet potato), are cooked in a pit underground in ovens called ‘hangi’. Hangi food or ‘kai’ is wrapped and placed on hot stones at the bottom of the hole. The food is covered with wet cloth and a mound of earth that traps the heat around the food. Lunch will be in the ground for about three to four hours which produces tender, off-the-bone meat and delicious vegetables, all infused with a smoky, earthy fragrance.
“With a boatload of other local delicacies also enroute, guests can stop for snacks, lunch and dinner at some of the best, and local favourite, places to grab food on this adventure,” adds Paul Carberry, founder of New Zealand In Depth and New Zealand travel expert. “Combining nature and food is ingrained in New Zealand culture whether eating outside, cooking underground or foraging for ingredients. We want to give our guests an insight into some of the quirkier and off-grid experiences which we are sure will be highlights on any luxury New Zealand adventure.”
The new nature and food itinerary is recommended to combine with a 10-day New Zealand adventure with New Zealand In Depth costs from £2,200 per person, excluding international flights. This includes 10 nights of accommodation in a range of Lodges and B&Bs, car hire, ferry from Wellington to Picton, Buzzstop honey tour, and guided tour to eternal flame, Maori Hangi in Rotorua.