Central Otago: Southern Comfort Food


Filling up your motorhome pantry with local artisan delights, fresh fruits and a drop or two of your favourite beverage is one of the highlights of a roadtrip. We check out what’s on offer in Central Otago. 

One of the most enjoyable things about a motorhome holiday is exploring what an area has to offer when it comes to great things to eat. There’s nothing better than popping into a weekend farmers’ market where you’re staying to see what’s being produced nearby. And it’s even better when some of these businesses are open to the public so you can actually meet the makers, have a chat and get an insight into local life. Central Otago is a great region to explore when it comes to food; it has such extensive natural bounty and there are so many people growing, making and creating wonderful things. While there’s more to explore in the summer months, there are still plenty of places to stock your campervan in other seasons too. Here are just some of them:

Otago Brew School

It’s obviously no secret there are plenty of wine-tasting opportunities in Central Otago, but that’s not all there is to drink. Pop into a local pub and look for beer from Otago Brew School. This full-scale brewery in Cromwell is where students get real-world experience while completing their brewing qualification at the polytechnic, but also where tutors make some of the best recipes into beer available for public purchase. The profit from your pint will go directly back into running the school, so everyone wins. op.ac.nz/services/brew-school-beer

Otago Brew School flavours can be found at many a local pub

Wynyard Estate Saffron

The Teviot Valley might not be the first place you think of when it comes to growing saffron (Iran, Spain, India maybe?), but Wendy and Graham at Wynyard Estate will happily prove otherwise. Give them a call and they’ll show you around their beautiful garden and the fields where the saffron grows. They will also passionately explain the labour-intensive process of growing and harvesting the most prized spice in the world. Even better, Wendy is an ex-chef so she also has a delightful store full of saffron sauces, syrups, jams, cordials and more. wynyardestatesaffron.com 

Christmas camping: Hahei Beach
Check out the beautiful saffron at Wynyard Estate

Broken Hive Mead

Mead is definitely having a moment and Broken Hive is a great spot to learn all about it. Cole and Natalie, the couple who own it, both have wine and hospitality backgrounds and are on a mission to get more Kiwis drinking this honey-based beverage. Their café is a great place to stop for a coffee, snack or platter, and they also stock other local products too. Keep an eye on their socials for pop-up markets they hold from time to time. brokenhive.com 

Mead is definitely having a moment

Jacksons Orchards

If you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time of year, an orchard stop is a must. Jacksons is an amazing place to stock up on plump cherries, shiny apples, vibrant apricots and other gorgeous stone fruit for the motorhome pantry (they have plenty of dried fruit, nuts and other beautifully preserved produce too.) If time allows you should absolutely do an orchard tour as well. Connecting with where our food comes from is so fascinating, and seeing trees dripping with luscious fresh fruit is more than a little magical.  jacksonorchard.co.nz 

Local produce is a great snack on the road

Forage & Gold

While you can buy Forage & Gold’s honey online, it’s much more fun to check out their cute roadside stall in Cromwell. It’s always packed with bottles of their locally made honey and you’ll love exploring all the interesting flavours like Vipers Bugloss and Thyme (thyme honey, does it get any more Central Otago than that?).  forageandgold.co.nz 

Forage and Gold offer a type of honey for every taste

Scrubby Gully Preserves

If you can’t get fresh summer fruit in Central Otago, pick up some in a jar! Jo and James Robinson are passionate about local produce and grow a variety of gorgeous flowers (they are known for their peonies), plus the fruit for the preserves they make so people can take a little bit of the region home with them.  scrubbygully.co.nz 

Cromwell Farmers’ Market

Cromwell Farmers’ Market is seasonal (Labour Weekend to Easter Weekend) but it’s a must-visit if you’re there at the right time. Set in the Cromwell Heritage Precinct, it’s the best place for a coffee, some pastries and a whole lot of treats to take back to your home on wheels (five o’clock drinks never looked so good). The stallholders are wonderful and always up for a chat about what they make and how they make it.  cromwellfarmerscraftmarket.co.nz 

Tiny towns: Duntroon

NZ Nuts

Growing beautiful walnuts is a labour of love and Valda Muller and her son Tim live and breathe this process all year to bring delighted locals their delicious wares. Valda sells at the local markets and makes oil, butter, flour and pickled walnuts too. Eighteen months ago they opened a cute roadside shed so people can drop by and pick up some local bounty. 

Little Picnic Co

If you’re not around in summer, never fear. Pop into the Little Picnic Company in Cromwell Heritage Precinct any time of year and discover a range of beautiful products from the Southern end of Aotearoa. They also have handcrafted ice cream, gourmet pies, and baked goods. Make sure there’s extra room in your suitcase for everything you’re going to want to take back home after your trip! picnicco.nz 

Dunford Olive Groves

Again, the mountains of Central Otago may not immediately look like olive country but if you think about it, the same conditions that grow great grapes will do well for these med beauties as well. Beside the beautiful shores of Lake Dunstan, Dunford Grove produces premium extra virgin olive oil and delicious fresh hazelnuts. They also offer tours involving interested visitors in seasonally appropriate activities. dunfordgrove.com 

The Merchant of Clyde has a delicious selection on offer

The Merchant of Clyde

Central Otago favourite, Olivers was built in 1869 in Clyde by merchant Benjamin Naylor, and is recognised as one of Otago’s most significant heritage buildings. While you can definitely have dinner in the restaurant itself, The Merchant of Clyde does great grab-n-go food and has a wonderful selection of local artisan products to stock up your campervan pantry. They even brew their own beer on-site. It’s the whole package. olivers.co.nz/the-merchant-of-clyde-cafe-bakery-deli https://www.olivers.co.nz/the-merchant-of-clyde-cafe-bakery-deli

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