Get to Know the Culinary Curiosities of South Canterbury
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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Neat South Canterbury Places
Geraldine Cheese Company
Geraldine Cheese Co. handcrafts small-batch cheese varieties in its petite factory in the heart of Geraldine town centre.
Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre
Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre in Timaru offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience and learn about the ancient Māori practice of rock art.
Arthur Street Kitchen
Renowned for its delicious breakfast and lunch menu, plus house-made baking and hearty salads, Arthur Street Kitchen takes pride in producing as much as possible on their premises.
Quite possibly the most scenic spot for a flat white in Aotearoa, Astro Café is a coffee shop experience not to be missed when visiting the Mackenzie region.
The Silverstream Hotel, a historical country pub in Kimbell, is an iconic Mackenzie region destination.