Green and delicious

Two reasons to go as far as New Zealand? The thriving nature and the numerous food festivals

22-06-2013
The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is one of t

The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival is one of the most important events of the kind in New Zealand: it takes place every year, on the second Saturday of February (photo newzealand.com)

I can’t imagine anyone going to New Zealand in search of the down-under equivalent of ancient Roman amphorae or of Greek remains. In fact, one of the most effective advertising campaigns for tourism in the recent past was the famous “100% Pure” one, highlighting the green image of the nation of the long white cloud (this is the most validated translation of Aotearoa, the name the māori people use to call their land). Kiwi tourism is more linked to its passion for the environment than to the historic or architectural aspects.

Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration, end of January-beginning of February

Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration, end of January-beginning of February

In fact, the campaign created an uproar in the scientific community and among environmental activists, because of this slogan (criticism was based on ecological data), though it was very successful nonetheless in changing the perception of New Zealand. That the objective was the promotion of tourism is a given fact, however, some positive effects also arrived for the food sector and in terms of a renewed interest for cooking. If you stick the label of “pureness” and “conservation” to a territory, this means that the same “natural” label will also go to all that is produced from its earth, all the vegetables and the food products which will be then part of a recipe.

New Zealand lives on export and the food sector is the locomotive of this development convoy. At the end of 2011 they registered a double digit growth in the dairy sector’s export, and the same went for vegetables, meat and fish. A special mention goes to all the products that leave the country with a special certification, that is to say with higher quality standards. Long story short, the green label works. And pays. It pays also as these these products are available in New Zealand too, and as it created an unstoppable interest in cooking.

Very wide lands

Very wide lands

Looking at the official tourism websites, sports and outdoor activities are the first area of interest, followed by the food offer. Of course this cannot be compared to Italy, which can boast years of events dedicated to the celebration and promotion of a particular product, however, for a food-lover like me, it is reassuring to see that in New Zealand too, food festivals are becoming established and that the culture linked to cooking and food tradition grows too, regardless of the media influence.

These festivals mostly take place in the summer (that is between December and April) and tend to promote an area or a region (such as the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival or the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration), a category (such as the WildFoods Festival in Hokitika) or a culture (in particular, māori traditional food, Kaiwhia Kai Festival in Hamilton, Maketu Kaimoana in the Bay of Plenty or Kai in the Bay in Napier). ‘100% Pure’ perhaps is a little daring statement - green, it is indeed, and delicious it is for sure. And summer will be back here soon.


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Piatti downunder

Delicacies from Australia and New Zealand told by Cinzia Piatti