The Good Life: Fiona Read's Journey Back to Land and Sea

Fiona Read, and her husband Chris, in their kitchen at Hapuku Kitchen.

Fiona Read

Like most people you meet in Kaikōura, Fiona Read is extremely passionate about this special seaside town and its offerings – especially so in the culinary sense of things.

Words by: Petra Nyman

Photography by: Nancy Zhou

Fiona Read made the move from city life to a lifestyle block complete with an original 1930s cottage in Hapuku in 2006 and has not looked back. Since then, the cottage has undergone a complete renovation and now features the couple’s private residence and an open plan kitchen and lounge, which is the heart of Fiona and husband Chris’ cooking school, Hapuku Kitchen.

Fiona comes from a family of foodies and has long dreamt of sharing her passion and enabling people to reconnect with their food. It was through taking part in MasterChef NZ that she finally realised working with food is what she should be doing. “It was during the competition that the idea of working with food was cemented for me, a realisation of ‘food is it’,” Fiona remembers. Soon after, she ditched corporate life and made the move to Kaikōura. Fiona and Chris ended up working at the nearby Hapuku Lodge for some ten years, Fiona in the kitchen and Chris as the manager. “We loved our time there, but all the time dreamt of creating a culinary adventures business, which is now finally a reality.” 

Years in the development, Hapuku Kitchen is a dream come true for the couple. The business delivers an authentic Kaikōura foodie experience, which reconnects people with the land and sea, educates them to appreciate food and create less waste, and teaches some technical skills in the kitchen.

Fishing, hunting and gathering is at the core of Hapuku Kitchen like it is at the core of everything that drives Fiona. “All the best times and memories in my life have been created around food, people and gatherings,” she says. It’s the beauty of such simple pleasures that she wants to share with the people that come to experience the slice of paradise that is Hapuku Kitchen.

Fiona's Neat Places