For generations, it’s been a hallowed Kiwi tradition to bundle the family (or friends) into a campervan and set out along the beautiful, winding roads of Aotearoa. The long days and warm nights of the New Zealand summer also provide the perfect setting for indulging in the culinary delights that the country has to offer. Thankfully, there’s no need to choose between these idyllic activities: see our guide below to the ultimate Kiwi summer road trip - with a bunch of delicious delicacies along the way.
Summer officially starts on the 1st of December, and you don’t have to wait long before the first festival of the season kicks off: the Christchurch | South Island Wine and Food Festival. Not only will you find exquisite vintages and tasty dishes here, you’ll also have the chance to learn how to recreate some of these dishes with demonstrations from a handpicked selection of top chefs. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll be treated to the music of Kiwi summer classic Tahuna Breaks, Australian dance heroes Sneaky Sound System and the unforgettable rhythm ‘n’ blues ensemble Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes. Pick up a Christchurch campervan rental here to start your Kiwi foodie odyssey. If Christchurch isn't the right spot, head on over to our New Zealand page for all of our NZ campervan hire options.
You’ve got a week before the Strawberry Fare, so why not spend a little time exploring Christchurch City? The quakes of 2011 devastated Christchurch, destroying much of the city’s infrastructure but in the intervening years the residents have banded together to bounce back with innovation and creativity. Shipping container malls, a cardboard cathedral and pop-up cafes are all signs of a resurgent community determined to make the most of a bright future. Make sure you’re in Waimate, a little under 3 hours down State Highway 1, by the 12th of December. Waimate has been celebrating their luscious harvest since the 80’s, but it’s not just about the strawberries. Foodies will find a host of international flavours on offer, not to mention generous helpings of ice cream to go with those strawberries.
There’s almost a month between Waimate and Katikati, so many may choose to skip the first two and start their journey with the Katikati Avocado Food and Wine Festival. If that’s the case for you, a Tauranga campervan rental is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to go the whole hog, New Zealand has plenty to keep you entertained and amazed. Thrillseekers will love Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world, while those who’d prefer sun and vineyards would do well to spend some time in Nelson. In the North Island, don’t forget to soak up the culture of Wellington, the family fun of Rotorua and the beautiful beaches around Tauranga. Just half an hour from Tauranga you’ll find Katikati, famous for its murals and avocados. Enjoy excellent food and fine wine while being serenaded with live music - and know that all proceeds from the fest are going back into the local community.
With almost three weeks to explore the upper North Island, I’d definitely recommend spending a decent chunk of that time in the Coromandel. This region really comes into its own over the summer period - the bush, beaches and tiny towns of this remote region hark back to the simpler, slower paced New Zealand of past generations. From the majestic rock formations of Cathedral Cove to the hidden delights of New Chums beach to the self-made spa baths of Hot Water Beach, the Coromandel is a Kiwi summer wonderland. From Thames, the largest town in the province, it’s only an hour and a half to Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. Also known as the City of Sails, it’s no surprise that this sea-surrounded metropolis hosts one of the finest seafood festivals in the country. Held annually over Auckland Anniversary Weekend, the ASF is a lavish celebration of the ocean’s bounty, an event you won’t want to miss if you have a taste for kai moana (Maori = seafood).
It’s time to loop back to the South Island for your final festival. Of all New Zealand’s regions, none are more famed for their sunny weather and world-class vintages than Marlborough. The region produces some of the best sauvignon blanc to be found anywhere on Earth, and their other vintages aren’t too shabby either. The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is held at Brancott Vineyard, just out of Blenheim and is a calendar highlight for oenophiles and foodies alike. Food, fashion and fine wine combine to create a joyously festive atmosphere, and it’s all accompanied by live entertainment, from a live brass band to Kiwi classics. Celebrity chefs, winemakers and viticulturalists will all be giving tutorials and demonstrations so you can get a glimpse behind the curtain when it comes to creating these delectable treats. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to recreate some of the dishes at home!
While not everyone will have two months to trip around New Zealand (don’t we all wish!) it’s easy to jump on this trip at whatever point works for you, so get ready for a summer filled with all things delicious!