Get to Know the Culinary Curiosities of South Canterbury

Gin being poured into a shot glass at Humdinger Gin Distillery.

While famous for its sheep runs and hardy shepherds, South Canterbury has far more to offer than farming and vast plains. The picturesque landscape of the region is filled with fertile soil and fittingly home to a huge number of innovative producers and makers of consumable goodness.

Words by: Petra Nyman

Photos by: Nancy Zhou

Be it distilling gin or brewing beer, churning cheese or crafting crusty pies, preserving berries or fermenting hot sauces, the food heroes of the region pour their heart and soul into their products. With such a range of diverse enterprises to discover, the region is a definite destination for foodies and home cooks alike.

We have sampled our way through the region and gathered together some of the most impressive culinary curiosities around, so that you can experience the best of what this special piece of New Zealand has to offer.



Geraldine Butchery

6 Wilson Street, Geraldine

The famous Geraldine Butchery has been around for 30 odd years. With any producer of goods that stands the test of time, it’s evident that this butchery is doing something right. Here, the skilled butchers hold the old fashioned values of providing their customers with the best quality, local meat available. They are also happy to advise on how to cook your chosen piece correctly and give ideas on new recipes. The butchery is dedicated to its community and in return enjoys a loyal local customer base.

The exterior of the Geraldine Butchery building.

Humdinger Gin Distillery

3a Talbot Street, Geraldine, South Canterbury

One of the few gin distilleries in South Canterbury, Humdinger Gin in Geraldine is a newcomer, but their gins have arrived on the market with a bang.  They have already — in the distillery’s first year of production — brought home top honours from both New Zealand and London spirit awards. Visit the distillery at its homebase in the heart of Geraldine and taste the various signature gins made here — you can even get a glimpse into the petite factory itself through large floor-to-ceiling windows. The makers of the aromatic crowd favourite are more than happy to chat about their products and let you in on a few secrets.

Ship Hop Brewing

Bars icon

7 Strathallan Street, Timaru, South Canterbury

Timaru’s only craft brewery, Ship Hop Brewing, is tucked in what was once a break-room for the workers of the still-functioning wool factory, its neighbours. The microbrewery opens its doors on Fridays only when the three friends who run the show work on new brews. At Ship Hop, you can taste a variety of beers on tap, and choose your favourite to take home in a rigger. If you’re not in town on the right day for a visit, keep an eye on Ship Hop brews in restaurants and bars around Timaru and wider South Canterbury.

Geraldine Cheese Company

76 Talbot Street, Geraldine, South Canterbury

Geraldine Cheese Company mixes traditional cheese making practises with the latest technology in producing a huge variety of hand-crafted cheeses. If you haven’t come across their cheese before, this flagship store is the best place to start. Just about the full selection of cheeses made here are available for purchase in store, many of which you can taste before buying. The company is proud to produce cheese with not only your common milks, such as cow or goat, but also specialty cheeses made with deer and sheep milk. These cheese makers have brought home plenty of awards over the years and are always experimenting with new ideas.

Al’s Laboratory

1 Peel Street, Geraldine

Home of Geraldine’s craft hot sauces and spice rubs, Al’s Laboratory is a culmination of one man’s quest to add some unique homemade flavour to the dishes served at his café, The Running Duck, which sits across the road from the lab. The sauces have been taste tested in the café since 2015, and with their ever-growing popularity, the range has expanded immensely. Everything at Al’s Lab is hand crafted and proudly made with care, attention to detail and quality. You can pick up a bottle of hot sauce or a bag of spice rub online or at The Running Duck.

Barker's Foodstore & Eatery

Cafes icon

71 Talbot Street, Geraldine, South Canterbury

Synonymous with the town where everything first began in the early 1970s and where its products are proudly made to this day, Barker’s is one the more well-known food heroes of the South. A quintessentially kiwi brand, Barker’s is the name you’ll come across in bold letters on jams, jellies, chutneys and syrups in any fridge or pantry around the country. At Barker’s Foodstore you can purchase and taste-test a huge variety of the products the brand is famous for, plus a number of surprising newcomers you might not yet know.

High Country Salmon

2602 Twizel – Omarama Road, Twizel

The smaller of the two farms raising salmon on the hydro canals surrounding Twizel, High Country Salmon is a family operated business, which was established in 2000 by keen fisherman Richard Logan and his wife Margaret. A variety of salmon options can be picked up from the small floating shop on-site, but if you’ve dreamt of catching your own salmon, you can do that hassle-free with the assistance of the friendly staff. There’s a landscaped area with picnic tables near the floating deck where you can watch the action if getting amongst it is not your cup of tea.

A fish in a net.

Burkes Brewing Co

Main Road, State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo

The tiny Burkes Brewing Co based at Lake Tekapo is the home of an award-winning, small-batch brewed beer. Their Unforgiven Porter was crowned the best beer in the country in 2021, unexpectedly taking out some heavyweights and big craft brewery names. Proudly based in the Mackenzie District, Burkes Brewery is a part-time operation for Sebastian Burke, who also runs the Lake Tekapo restaurant, Blue Lake, where you can taste a number of drops. The unique selection of beers produced by Burkes Brewing Co are made with quality ingredients and available throughout South Canterbury, and wherever good beer is poured.

A hand holding a glass of beer.

Fairlie Bakehouse

Cafes icon

7925, 74 Main Street, Fairlie, South Canterbury

If you find yourself in Fairlie, it would be a crime not to dig your teeth into a famous Fairlie Bakehouse pie. The multiple award winning pies fly out the door throughout the day and it’s no wonder, as they truly are some of the best buttery parcels of goodness you’ll ever try. The secret behind the success of the bakery is the exceptional ingredients and hand crafted pastry that is hard to beat. With its own butchery on site and utmost attention to detail you can rest assured that whichever flavour you choose to try, you will not be disappointed.

Neat South Canterbury Places

77 Art + Living

Art on display on a brick wall and a colourful chair on a wooden floor at 77 Art + Living in Fairlie.
Place South Canterbury Fairlie

Fairlie might not be the first town that comes to mind when thinking of wonderful independent galleries across the motu, but 77 Art + Living is here to change that.

Bay Hill Books

Close up of modern fiction for sale at Bay Hills Books in Timaru, New Zealand.
Place South Canterbury Timaru

There is something quite special about stumbling across small, independent booksellers. Bay Hill Books, in the heart of Timaru, is most definitely one of those petite treasure troves for literature lovers.

York St Gallery of Fine Art

Art on the walls and sculptures on the floor inside York Street Gallery in Timaru.
Place South Canterbury Timaru

Creatives of Canterbury rejoice—York Street Gallery of Fine Art in Timaru is here to satisfy your art cravings.

Café Verde

A covered verandah outside Cafe Verde, surrounded by greenery in Geraldine.
Place South Canterbury Geraldine
Cafes icon

Café Verde in Geraldine is known for its luscious garden setting and outstanding food. Located in an old phone-exchange building, this is the local café-goers meeting spot where generations of friends and family come together over a cuppa.