We love to eat local and the mild Northland climate delivers some delicious produce, unique to this region as well as some of the first crops of the season. As each year rolls around we're also enjoying harvests from our own young orchard. Often more than we can consume at the time we love finding new ways to preserve the flavours creating jams, relishes, pickles and condiments. Some of these home made goodies feature in the provisions baskets which can be ordered when you book an ESCAPE at the Orchard Cottage.
Otherwise our hunt for delicious products from local producers never stops. Here we share our favourite finds, as well as places to eat around the region.
MAX Coffee - we're stoked to have multi-award winning coffee producers here in Northland. Year on year they scoop up awards at the annual NZ coffee awards. You'll find their punchy Organic Blend provided with compliments at the Orchard Cottage and you can also get your hands on some through www.maxcoffee.co.nz
PRESERVES, RELISHES & SAUCES
With so many produce farmers in Northland, we're enjoying delicious local condiments.
Due North - Small batch recipes showcasing flavourful Northland produce, a wonderful range of jams, sauces and vinegars. You can buy online at www.duenorthfoods.co.nz
K4 Kombucha & Cultured Foods - The masters of feel good foods! The team at K4 not only produce some of the highest quality kombucha in the land, they create some delicious fermented foods that are packed with gut-loving cultures. Check them out to order online or see stockists: www.k4you.co.nz.
Ludbrook House Fine Foods - Steeped in history this Bay of Islands orchard produces delicious original recipe jams, preserves, condiments and cakes. You can visit their shop or buy online at www.finefoods.co.nz
Fruit Fusion - A celebration of delicious tamarillos with a range of vinegar, chutney and jam bursting with tamarillo goodness. You'll often find these products at local markets or buy online www.fruitfusionnz.net
Wild West Worcester - Producing a unique and award-winning west coast Northland black sauce. Their Worcester Black Sauce is really gutsy in flavour and easily addictive! Other products include relishes and chilli sauce, buy online at www.wildwestworcester.co.nz.
Hukerenui Gardens - A small but mighty producer of some of the most delicious preserves and condiments around. Focusing on sustainable practices, their range reflects the best of the seasons. You can buy online here or you'll find them every Saturday at the Whangarei Growers Market.
Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Sauce - An awesome hot sauce with a great reputation. Made with chili peppers and capsicums grown in the beautiful Far North. You'll find this sauce at most supermarkets and you can learn more at www.kaitaiafire.com.
Fire Dragon Chillies - It's been a huge few of years for Clint Meyer and his multi-award winning hot chili sauces. Coming out on top in a number of international competitions, Fire Dragon Chillies specializes in organically grown, preservative free hot sauces where chillies are the hero. Definitely worth checking out and not for the faint hearted www.firedragonchillies.co.nz
There's an abundance of Manuka trees in the Northland region with some very passionate and experienced bee farmers.
Tahi Honey - Ethical and sustainable bee farmers producing very high quality Manuka honey and other honey blends. Located close to the Orchard Cottage on the road out to Pataua North. Their delicious Manuka and Forest honey regularly features in our provisions baskets. Read more about the Tahi story here: www.tahihoney.co.nz
Mana Kai Honey - A family owned business with a huge passion for all aspects of ethical beekeeping and honey making. Producers of premium Manuka Honey from the rich lands of the Far North. Find out more and purchase online here: www.manakai.co.nz
Kare Honey - producers of high quality Manuka honey including 10+, 15+ and 20+ UMF activity levels. This rich and beneficial honey will often be found in our provision baskets at the Orchard Cottage. Find out more about Kare Honey here: www.kare.co.nz
Grinning Gecko Cheese Company is a true artisan producer dedicated to reflecting the unique taste of Northland through traditional cheese methods with certified organic milk. Yum! These cheeses are delicious and definitely worth sampling. Check them out at www.grinninggecko.co.nz
Mahoe Cheese is a boutique cheesery located in the Bay of Islands. They make a range of fresh and aged cheese. They're award winning, with their latest accolade being for the Very Old Edam. You can find out more at www.mahoecheese.co.nz.
MEAT & SMALL GOODS
Omak Meats - not just any old butcher but a passionate team sourcing and preparing some of the finest cuts of meat around. A lot of their product is sourced locally, there's plenty of gourmet cuts and free range options. Very much worth a visit if you're planning to cook or they also deliver around Northland - www.omak.co.nz
Your Fresh Meat Company is a fantastic, family owned company specializing in delicious gluten and preservative free meat. The proof of their quality is all in the tasting, offering some of the best salami, bacon and sausages we've had the pleasure of sampling. Check them out online at www.yourfreshmeatcompany.co.nz
The Black Garlic Man - what an awesome discovery this has been! If you haven't tasted it, we definitely recommend it. Black garlic is naturally fermented and the result is a rich, sweet, caramalised addition to many dishes. Check out this treasure of the North at www.blackgarlicman.co.nz
Taihoa Tides - Literally just 'down the road', Taihoa Tides in Parua Bay produce a delicious boutique range of olive oils. They press onsite treating the fruit with absolute care to get the best result. You can purchase direct from them at www.taihoatidesoliveoil.co.nz
Echo Valley Olives - based in Mangawhai, Don and Teresa produce a delicious range of single estate, extra virgin olive oils. The cold centrifuge pressing ensures premium olive oils that taste fantastic. They also produce a honey infused balsamic reduction and wonderfully zesty vinaigrette. Check them out here www.echovalleyolives.co.nz
Evergreen Olives - this boutique olive grove produces organic, single estate extra virgin olive oil and it is delicious! We particularly love their lemon infused oil which we use a lot in salad dressings. You can get their products at www.evergreenolives.co.nz
AND TO DRINK
The lovely Northland climate produces some truly unique wine, interesting flavours that you won't find anywhere else in New Zealand. Absolutely worth planning a road trip around, as these producers are often found in some of the regions most picturesque locations.
Omata Estate - A boutique vineyard in Russel, Omata produces a beautiful range of wines from this gorgeous region. Also, our personal favourite is their Omata Brut, a light sparking white wine that sings summer and celebration! Check them out here www.omata.co.nz
Ake Ake Vineyard - Another small vineyard with huge heart. Ake Ake specialise in a distinctly Northland flavour and all grapes grown here are certified organic. Located in Kerikeri, they have a restaurant onsite and cellar door tastings everyday.
Te Whai Bay Wines From boutique vineyard at on a hillside terrace in the Mangawhai wine region, the selection of Te Whai Bay wines are produced. During summer we particularly like their Pinot Gris and Rose. You can find out more about their range, cellar door hours and live music events on their website www.tewhaibaywines.co.nz.
Marsden Estate - Located in Kerikeri, Marsden Estate is 10 acre winery producing a diverse range of excellent wines. Winemaker Rod MacIver also makes wine for a number of smaller vineyards in the area and Marsden wines regularly receive awards and their lovely restaurant is a great way to enjoy their offering. See more here www.marsdenestate.co.nz.
McLeods Brewery - Award-winning character-filled beers from the awesome team at McLeods. There's a great range of favourites and a an ever-changing range of seasonal brews. You can find McLeods throughout the country or visit the source at the McLeods Pizza Barn in Waipu.
Sovrano Limoncello - These producers have taken the world by storm with their internationally multi-award winning Limoncello. They truly make a divine drop! Drink chilled on it's own or use in cooking and desserts.
EATING OUT - OUR FAVOURITE SPOTS
DOWN THE ROAD - 10 MINUTE DRIVE
Parua Bay Tavern - A historic pub right on the water. Good fare at great prices, friendly staff and a favourite for locals all over Whangarei.
Smith & Local - A great little bakery and takeout cafe tucked away in the Parua Bay village shops. Specialising in local food and coffee, fresh baked bread, salads and treats. Also offering takeaway pizzas on weekend evenings.
New Day Café - Good coffee and yummy food with fresh ingredients and gluten free options. Located in Parua Bay village.
The Deck - A casual café in a stunning location on the way to Ocean Beach. Menu and fresh cabinet choices available.
Huanui Fresh / Black Stump Cafe - A fresh market store with lots of good produce, free range eggs and a selection of artisan products. Complimented by the Black Stump Cafe, home made food, good coffee and a nice place to sit with a country backdrop.
IN TOWN - 15 MINUTE DRIVE
Quail Café - Set amongst the lovely Subtropical Quarry Gardens. Great food, coffee and delicious sweet treats made fresh each day.
Biggie Bagels - Whangarei's own handmade bagel co. A cool little spot offering a great range of filled bagels and delicious MAX coffee. Open Tuesday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch, well worth a visit.
Fat Camel - Israeli café, delicious traditional Israeli food, great prices and good coffee. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days.
Salt Cafe - A great little cafe with good coffee and fresh food made on the premises. Open for breakfast and lunch Mon - Sun.
Milk & Honey Cafe - A nice cafe in Kamo with blackboard menu and cabinet options, Allpress coffee and plenty of sweet treats. GF, DF and raw options available.
Power Plant - Wholefoods and organics store offering ready to eat items as well, specialising in DF, GF, RSF, raw and organic food.
The Quay Kitchen - A beautiful restaurant in an awesome location right on the water in the Town Basin. A great seasonal menu with local ingredients to complement the surroundings. Fully licensed, open 7 days.
No.8 Restaurant & Bar - Asian fusion with a rich, moody interior. Also on the water at the Town Basin, an excellent menu with small plates and sharing options. Fully licensed, open 7 days.
Suk Jai Thai - Excellent authentic Thai food with pleasant and efficient service. Dine in or take out, open for lunch from Tuesday to Saturday and dinner 7 days.
UP THE COAST - 30 - 45 MINUTE DRIVE
Schnapper Rock - Tutukaka Marina, lovely fresh seafood and yummy local produce. Open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Wahi Restaurant - At Oceans Resort in Tutukaka, a quality restaurant in a great setting, open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Helena Bay Cafe - Located at the Helena Bay Art Gallery on Helena Bay Hill, a fantastic cafe in a beautiful setting. Worth a visit any time, open 7 days.
If you want to get your hands on the freshest seasonal produce, artisan products, seafood and meats, you'll want to get a long to one of the many markets in the region, here are our top picks:
Whangarei Growers Market - the longest running growers market in the country and without doubt a mecca for all things fresh and delicious from around the region. Early risers will be rewarded! Every Saturday at the Water St Carpark, Whangarei, 6am - 10am.
Ngunguru Craft & Produce Market - a local market with a mix of crafts, seasonal produce and artisan products. Held on the 4th Saturday of each month, 9am - 1pm.
Waipu Boutique Sunday Market - in the lovely centre of Waipu, each Sunday a great selection of food, craft and artisan products. Held on the 2nd Sunday of each month, 9am - 1pm.
The Old Packhouse Market Kerikeri - A bustling market showcasing the best of the North, fresh produce, craft, seafood, coffee, delicious gourmet food and live music. Every Saturday 8am - 1.30pm. Also now hosting a relaxed car boot style food, vintage and variety market on Sundays 9am - 1.30pm.