Savour The South
For hundreds of years, Southland has been a breadbasket for its people, with Maori hunting and gathering from its forests, waterways and coastline since the 13th century. This abundance of resource and natural conditions led to European colonisation that introduced commercial farming, producing some of New Zealand’s finest food products. This colonisation bought a melting pot of cultures, who took advantage of the local produce and created a menu of unique flavours and recipes that continue to be reinvented by locals today.
Southland really does have something for all food lovers, come and savour the south.
The Southland seafood journey begins in Bluff - each year on the 1st of March the region rejoices as the Bluff Oyster season officially begins. Bluff Oysters are described as some of the finest in the world and celebrated at the annual Bluff Oyster & Food Festival.
Southland’s clean, coastal waters are full of deliciously fresh seafood including paua (abalone), blue cod, salmon, rock lobsters and many deep sea and inshore fish species, making it a seafood lover’s paradise.
Take a guided tour through the Invercargill Brewery and discover that good beer is so much more than just bending your elbow. While you’re sampling the brews be sure to stick around and be entertained by some great local talent in their function venue – The Asylum.
Southlanders are known to enjoy good old hearty tucker and Fat Bastard Pies offers some of the best in the region! Whether you choose a traditional kiwi mince and cheese or something more adventurous like southern seafood, you’re going to want another one - as a reviewer once elegantly stated, Fat Bastard Pies has “a name that draws you in, and a pie that leaves a lasting memory”.
Thanks to its lush pastures, Southland is home to some of New Zealand’s finest cheeses and an old favourite, the cheese roll (sometimes known locally as Southland sushi). Virtually unknown in the North Island, the cheese roll is simple yet delicious and when made with the freshest local dairy ingredients, is sure to impress even seasoned cheese lovers. Blue River Dairy sheep milk cheeses and Retro Organics Otama Onion Cheddar make for the perfect cheese roll ingredients.
Try your hand at artisan chocolate making at the Seriously Good Chocolate Company and then wander up the street for a cup of coffee heaven and delicious lunch made with the freshest ingredients at one of the local cafes or eateries.
Fish & Game
Northern Southland‘s beautiful rolling farmland and the majestic Takitimu Mountains produces some of the tastiest ‘wild food’ in the region. The Mataura River is considered the best dry fly fishing river in the world where big juicy trout can be caught. While you’re in the area, pop into to one of the local establishments and sample some succulent venison. Mossburn is regarded as New Zealand's deer farming capital; both wild and farmed venison can be found on menus in and around the Southland region.
Based in the quaint township of Lumsden, Gathered Game share their love of Southland’s wild food offerings to the world by producing delicious hand-crafted, small batch wild venison salami. There’s a good reason they’ve won so many awards!
Head further south for a local delicacy, the muttonbird - known for its succulent and tender meat when cooked. The southern Maori have had control of muttonbirding rights since prehistoric times, where the Tītī Islands off Stewart Island/Rakiura provide a harvesting ground every April. This is the only place in New Zealand that muttonbirds can be found and gathered.
Take a drive on the Southern Scenic Route along Western Southland’s coastline and visit some of the many seaside cafes, where you can catch up over lunch while taking in beautiful ocean views. The cafes in Riverton and Orepuki offer the best in locally sourced ingredients in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy homemade baking and a cup of boutique roasted espresso.
Travel near any of Southland’s rivers and estuaries and you’re likely to see people slowly dipping large hand held fishing nets into the water. They’re fishing for whitebait in the same way as people have done for generations. A seasonal New Zealand delicacy, the locals go crazy for whitebait - best served up in a patty atop a slice of fresh white bread, and don’t forget a squeeze of lemon juice!
While moonshining was equally popular and diligently pursued from Bluff to the far North, it’s Southland and particularly the Hokonui district that has become so famous and a unique part of New Zealand’s folklore.
Discover the Gore District’s colourful history of illicit whiskey making and consumption with a visit to the Hokonui Moonshine Museum.