New Zealand

Why New Zealand?

A brainstorming session at lunch in South Korea listed the next 12 countries. New Zealand was one of them, and we chose New Zealand for December because we’ll be camping, and New Zealand food is not all that different from Aussie food, so it should not be too stressful. I hope.

My experience of New Zealand

I’ve never really thought of New Zealand as being overseas. You can fly from Melbourne to Auckland in the same time it takes to fly to Perth. The kiwi accent is kind of grating, but I guess lots of people think the Aussie accent is too.

New Zealand is like your little brother – you feel you have the right to tease the hell out of him, but you’ll defend him against anyone that wants to do him harm.


We’ll be in Robe (a beautiful town on the South Australian coast) for Christmas, so we thought we’d have lunch in New Zealand in Robe on Christmas Day.

Lauren and Will and the kids will be there, so will Viv and Bill, and we’ll catch up with one of the school families, who are on their way home after spending most of the year caravanning around Australia.

The menu

We’ll have to have a pavlova, of course. Google, whom you can ALWAYS trust, has come down in favour of New Zealand being the creator of the pav, so we’ll acknowledge that with grace😊.  And Liam wants pav to be his signature dessert. He has practised a few at my place and is happy to make one for our Christmas lunch, which will be a great experience for him. I guess we’ll have to put kiwi fruit on it.

Roast lamb is a must, and I’ll try to get some green-lipped mussels as well.

16 December 2018

Lauren, Will and I have now had a Board meeting to settle the menu. This is what we’re having:

  • Roast lamb
  • Roast chicken
  • Green-lipped mussels
  • Roast potatoes (potatoes from my own vegie patch!!)
  • Asparagus and blue cheese salad
  • Green beans with balsamic and almonds
  • Salted caramel tarts with hokey pokey
  • Pavlova
  • Pineapple lumps
  • Chocolate fish

Here are the recipes for our faves – NZ best recipes

Click here to see all our favourite recipes.

And we all drink Marlborough sauvignon blanc these days, so we’ll put that on the menu. But I hear that NZ reds are great. I’ll go to Uncle Dans and get some red, and I’ll see if they have Speights as well. I’m not hopeful of them having Speights, but you never know your luck in a big city.

While preparing the factsheet and place mat, I was very strongly reminded of why Aussies and Kiwis get on so well. Like the Aussies, the Kiwis do not appear to take themselves to seriously (although their choice of national anthems has often bothered me – references to both God and the Queen don’t sit well for me). A country that has a government that appoints a National Wizard (in 1990) deserves a fair amount of kudos!

The food

We had another great lunch, this time enhanced by the facts that (a) it was also our Christmas lunch (b) we met up with friends we have not seen for many months and (c) we were in the delightful South Australian seaside town of Robe.

Will cooked the chooks on a spit on his mobile fire pit. If you’re looking for a great outdoor cooking set-up have a look at The Wedge, made by Slot Me In ( I’ve never had a bad meal from it. He also cooked a lovely marinated shoulder of lamb in the Weber. The lamb and the chicken were both amazing. Thanks, Will, for cooking them so well, and thanks to North Ringwood Meat Supply for the excellent quality meat, and for cryo-vaccing them for us.

I bought some NZ green-lipped mussels from Sky Seafoods in Robe, and they were also excellent.

The asparagus and blue cheese salad was made of what sounded like a random mish-mash of food that turned out to be a magical combination – asparagus, strawberries and blue cheese. Who’d have thought?

The potatoes were delicious too. I had grown them myself, and was very proud of them. I’m sure that home-grown potatoes are nicer than bought potatoes – much less water content, and therefore more crispy. Yum, yum, yum.

Liam made the pav. Thank you, Liam!! Your cooking skills are improving every time you hit the kitchen. Your pav was delicious and is proof that home-made always tastes better than store-bought. We decorated it with kiwi fruit, naturally.

The salted caramel tart with hokey pokey was very nice, but very rich. And thank you to Matilda, Elliott, Liam and Lani for helping with the hokey pokey (aka honeycomb), and a special thanks to Matilda who was always offering to help. You’re a star, Matilda!

I bought some chocolate fish online at Joy’s Delights. I’ll have to keep this store in mind for lunch in other countries. Their delivery time in the pre-Christmas madness was amazing. The kids were a little perplexed by chocolate fish, but loved the pineapple lumps, which can be found at any supermarket.

The drinks

It’s only a slight generalization to say that anyone who drinks white wine in Australia drinks Marlborough white wine. My constant favourite is Toi Toi, so I had a good supply of that with me.

A trip to Uncle Dan’s sourced a cab merlot from Hawke’s Bay, a pinot noir from Central Otago and six stubbies of Monteith’s Pointers pale ale. I didn’t try the reds and am not a beer drinker, but they all seemed to go down OK.

The ambience

Our lunch was served and eaten in perfect weather conditions in our gazebos in the Robe Holiday Park. Instead of playing New Zealand music, we played Christmas songs – if Dave Dobbin and Split Enz had recorded some Christmas songs, it would have been a most appropriate combination. But hey-ho.

The quiz

I wrote the quiz. Congratulations to the winners – Lauren and Felicity.

Jan, you should have been there. Will lost by one point and was angst-ridden because he had memorised the NZ population AND how to spell Mt Kosciuszko and neither of those questions were on the quiz. It was sublime! You would have loved it.

After the quiz we did our traditional Kris Kringle gift-swap and then, while Viv very kindly washed the dishes, the rest of us took to the field for a game of cricket, which was great fun. We all realised how hard it is to bowl accurately, Liam got me out with a great catch off his own bowling, and Bill did a hammy! After all that we had to sit down again and rehydrate.

Here’s the factsheet – Factsheet_NZ

Here’s the place-mat – Place-mat_NZ

And here’s the quiz – Quiz_NZ

The highlight of lunch in New Zealand

We didn’t specifically talk about the dish of the day, but I think the lamb, chicken and pav would have been the most popular.

Where to next?

We’re off to Suriname in January. We’ve had quite a few discussions about Suriname – it sounds like such an African-country type of name but it is actually in South America. I chose Suriname because, while I was living in the UK, I had a weekend in Brussels (I think it was Brussels or maybe it was Amsterdam) and my Lonely Planet City Guide recommended an out-of-the-way restaurant that served food from Suriname. We went there, and the food was great. I cannot remember one dish, but I do remember loving it all.

Lunch in Suriname is the perfect way to refresh the memory.

See you in Suriname on 20 January!

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