Wilderness hosted renowned New Zealand chef and food writer Tina Duncan on a week long road trip. Tina and her daughter Maria found some of the best places to forage for New Zealand's freshest ingredients.
They share their favourite recipes for eating in style on the road.
When we think about taking a campervan around the beautiful New Zealand wilderness, especially if we choose to freedom camp, we often think about compromising or rationing — especially power, technology and food.
This mother-daughter duo decided to debunk that myth and take on the challenge to eat delicious, fresh and seasonal food on a New Zealand road trip.
💡 INSIDER TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL FOODIE CAMPERVAN TOUR
Day 1 — Auckland > Mount Maunganui (230km in 2h 41m)
The first day was about setting ourselves up and hitting the supermarket. We chose to buy all our pantry items for the week like flour and spices, but just enough fresh food for that night.
We planned to supplement our supermarket food with items we foraged or bought from the farm gate each day.
The rain was coming down heavily as we pulled into our overnight parking space, but we were warm and cosy inside our insulated motorhome with a plate of fresh tarakihi tagine that we'd prepared.
We also threw together a batch of delicious chilli and cumin girdle scones to mop up the juices.
See these recipes and others in our best recipes for the road ebook.
Tina & Maria's recommended camping spots in Mount Maunganui
Holiday park: Papamoa Beach Resort right by the beach
Day 2 — Mount Maunganui > Te Awanga via Taupo (340km in 3h 59m)
Day two took us from Mount Maunganui to the Hawke’s Bay via Taupo. Roadside stalls were plentiful, especially through avocado country. Fresh fruit ice cream was an essential stop and welcome on a hot afternoon.
Stopping in at the spectacular Huka Falls, we saw signs for a prawn farm. That was dinner sorted!
To make the most of the last of the season’s cherry tomatoes, we conjured up a simple, spicy coconut prawn curry.
Ending up in Te Awanga with the sun illuminating Cape Kidnappers, it seemed only fitting that we pop across to Clearview Winery to purchase one of our favourites — a bottle of Clearview Sea Red to finish the day with a glass of roadside dessert.
Tina & Maria's recommended camping spots in Te Awanga/ Napier
Freedom camping: Beachfront camping at Clifton Reserve
Holiday park: Te Awanga Point Holiday Park
Day 3 — Te Awanga > Castlepoint (290km in 3h 44m)
Destination Castlepoint is a compulsory detour if you travel through Masterton. Driving through the Hawke’s Bay meant multiple opportunities for roadside purchases. It was clear that we could make tonight’s meal almost entirely from what we picked up that day.
Fresh free range eggs and local Kingsmeade cheese were the highlights, Strawberries for dessert lent themselves as the perfect accompaniment for the second half of that Clearview sticky.
A spectacular walk around Castlepoint included some foraging when we found masses of wild fennel, which made our roadside one-pan eggs even more delicious.
Tina & Maria's recommended camping spots in Castlepoint
Freedom camping: Castlepoint car park
Holiday park: Castlepoint Holiday Park
Day 4 — Castlepoint > Kekerengu via Wellington (361km in 7h 55m)
Time to hop across the Strait via some of the country’s best coffee destinations in the coolest little capital in the world — nothing-can-beat-it-on-a-good-day Wellington.
A stop off at Petone for fantastic coffee and seaside donuts at Seashore Cabaret was the perfect farewell to the North Island. After a millpond crossing of Cook Strait, we pulled up for the night at Kekerengu on the Kaikoura Coast.
Our last night’s cook up was a cupboard cleanout. We combined the remaining cannellini beans, fresh veggies and some chicken and spices for a Mexican-inspired white one-pot wonder.
No better way to use up those now-ripened gorgeous avocados. Leftover girdle scones fried in butter turned a good eat into something sensational.
WHITE CHICKEN CHILLI
1 tablespoon oil
1 medium onion (diced)
1 carrot (peeled and sliced)
1 celery stalk (sliced)
1 cups chicken stock
1 skinless chicken breast (diced)
1/2 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the vegetables for two or three minutes. Add cumin, chilli and chicken stock and cook a further few minutes until the vegetables are nearly tender.
Add the diced chicken and cannellini beans. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
Tina & Maria's recommended camping spots in Kekerengu
Freedom camping: While it isn't exactly freedom camping and has a small fee to stay, we recommend The Store Kekerengu for its beachside campsite and great baking sold onsite
Holiday park: There are no holiday parks nearby so make sure you don’t need to plug in to power if you’re staying in this area
Day 5 — Kekerengu > Christchurch Wilderness base (238km in 3h 1m)
Our final leg coming down the inland Kaikoura road was a spectacular last day’s drive — stopping off to graze on roadside blackberries and apples before reluctantly relinquishing our campervan in Christchurch. All we really wanted to do was carry on south but maybe another time.
Pick up an amazing plate of seafood on the way at the Kaikoura Seafood BBQ.
After initial hesitation and expectation that we would succumb to at least one night of takeaways, we realised the added fun and satisfaction of cooking each night. Staying away from the crowds and being completely self-sufficient was the best.
A few objectives guided us on our trip to make shopping and cooking easier.
- Don’t deny yourself a couple of herbs and spices.
- Decide what type of food you like and buy some flavourings to use across different recipes. We chose chilli and cumin.
- Try and plan a few meals where the core ingredients cross over so your shopping list is streamlined — we had a red theme as we love tomatoes!
- Choose meals that can be cooked in one or two pots or pans.
- Eat roadside.
- Try and buy as much as possible from the farm fresh produce that's seasonal and local as you drive through the regions of New Zealand.
Learn more about cooking the New Zealand way, how to best shop for Kiwi produce, and how to indulge in the many foods and drinks across the country.
Simplified recipes of your favourite meals and flavours (married with the best offerings from New Zealand producers) will make a fantastic holiday an even more special experience as you enjoy New Zealand through food.
Want a copy of Tina's recipes from this itinerary?
Download our 23 Recipes for the Road where we share our absolute best motorhome recipes. Tried and tested by our team, we’ve used a lot of local ingredients and have included Tina's recipes from this itinerary.