Ah New Zealand. There are so many things to love about you, from your stunningly beautiful landscapes to your world class wine, but it’s often the stereotypes that stick most strongly in peoples’ minds. Well, if you can’t beat them, join them – we’ll see who’s laughing after sampling these suggestions.
There’s no shying away from this one, given NZ is a country of 4.4 million people and 31 million sheep. With such high ratios, it goes without saying that if you drive anywhere outside of the city you’ll see plenty of these black and white fluff balls milling around. If you’re after more than just a cursory drive by, head to The Wool Shed, New Zealand’s national museum of sheep and shearing, where you can discover everything you never knew about sheep. You can even see a live shearing demonstration if that tickles your fancy. For something a little different, make tracks to Zealandia. Ok, so this wildlife sanctuary doesn’t have sheep but it does have kiwis and glowworms and, if we’re honest, they’re a lot more impressive. And hey, you’ll see sheep on the drive there.
It’s no secret that New Zealanders love their rugby so make like a local and head to Westpac Stadium to get in on the action. Enjoy the energy of a 34,000 strong crowd, pretend not to be intimidated by the haka, and prepare for a lot of ‘tude if you decide to back the opposing team. The venue is also home to a leg of the infamous Rugby Sevens tournament, which will barrel its way into Wellington this January. While the sport itself is a drawcard for some, the tournament is more readily known for its debaucherous spectators, most of whom don wonderfully outlandish costumes and have a beer in hand all day. Get involved.
The Kiwis trained at @liverpoolfc base today. It was a really strong session and we would like to thank @jurgenklopp_ig his players and staff for being fantastic hosts. We performed the haka #TeIwiKiwi to show our gratitude as explained by cultural advisor Ora Kihi in the full clip facebook.com/nzkiwis We will take this support on the field when we play at Liverpool's home, Anfield on Sunday in the @2016fournations final #Respect #AllOfUs #Haka
Fish and Chips
Or should we say fush and chups? (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.) As fun as this dish is to say in a New Zealand accent, the real pleasure is in eating it and there’s nowhere better to indulge than Mt Vic Chippery. This local favourite serves up the freshest seafood around thanks to the slew of local fisherman on its books and boy, is it delicious. They go the extra mile in other ways too, using craft beer for their batter, cutting their chips by hand and making their own sauces from scratch. Even their non-sea-dwelling fare is the pick of the bunch – they slow roast their free-range pork shoulder for 12 hours before putting it into their pulled pork burgers, which they then top with red onion, apple slaw and Virgin Mary sauce. Excuse us while we wipe the drool from our keyboard.
Have you heard the rumour that beer flows from the faucets in Wellington? While we’re yet to find a kitchen tap with this capability, it is true that craft beer venues abound in every corner of the city so it’s hard to stay disappointed for long. The Little Beer Quarter bills itself as beer geek heaven and with 14 rotating taps, two hand pulls and more than 100 varieties stocked in the fridge it’s hard to argue otherwise. They also have puzzles and live music, cementing themselves as a great place to be whatever your mood.
Another foolproof option is Golding’s Free Dive, a teeny tiny back alley bar that specialises in craft beer and fun times. It’s very handily located right next to Pizza Pomodoro and, like any good neighbours, they have a sharing’s caring type arrangement which allows you to order pizzas from the bar. The chef at Pomodoro is a genuine Italian and imports his mozzarella direct from Napoli: expect good things.
For something a little different, make your way to the Garage Project in Aro Valley where you can buy craft beer by the litre to take home. This microbrewery is constantly pushing the boundaries of the beer world, coming up with gems like the China White, which is brewed with white tea, jasmine and orris root, and the Cereal Milk Stout, which is brewed with cornflakes, oats, chocolate, wheat and milk sugar. And don’t worry – if you’re not sure whether they’ll be to your taste, the cellar door offers free tastings.
It should come as no surprise that a city which loves beer so much has its very own craft beer festival. It’s called Beervana and rolls into town every August, complete with themed bars and delicious food, thoughtfully planned out to make each schooner taste its best.