With its sweeping vistas and rugged landscape, it’s easy to see why New Zealand was chosen as a fitting Middle Earth for the Lord of the Rings, but it’s the food and people that made Anthony Bourdain fall in love with this country.
Anthony Bourdain visited New Zealand to film season 1 (episode 9) of No Reservations; it was his only on-screen visit to The Land of the Long White Cloud (this is the most common translation of Aotearoa – the Māori name for New Zealand).
If you have this fantastical country on your bucket list as I do, you might be curious about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in New Zealand. Below you’ll find a list of those spots, as well as what Tony ate in each one. Even though some places have closed or are not open for regular dining opportunities, you can still use this as a guide for finding unique dining experiences during your trip.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Te Atiawa o Te Waka-a-Māui, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and Ngāi Tahu/Kāi Tahu peoples, among many others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Mudbrick Lodge & Harrington’s Bar
Taking a break from promoting his book Kitchen Confidential in the city of Christchurch, Bourdain flies to the northern tip of the southern island of New Zealand to visit the Mudbrick Lodge in the Rai Valley.
Here, he stays with owner Tania, and following a successful hunting trip with the locals, enjoys a sumptuous roast of wild boar, stuffed with apricots, apple, and pineapple, served with wild boar gravy, accompanied with a rich dark porter purchased from nearby Harrington’s Bar (which is unfortunately now closed). This is followed by a local pavlova (a dessert of sweet meringue and whipped cream), topped with kiwi fruit and a passion fruit sauce.
Te Rarawa Iwi
Bourdain is then a guest at a traditional Māori Pōwhiri, a welcoming ceremony, hosted by the Te Rarawa Iwi. Following the dance and greeting, he assists in the accompanying feast.
As the Māori women prepare the vegetables of squash, melon, kumara (also known as sweet potato), and pumpkin inside, the men attend to the meat and preparation of the BBQ pit outside. Pork, mutton, and venison are placed directly onto hot rocks, chicken is placed on top, and then the vegetables are added.
A soaked cloth is placed over everything to preserve the moisture, and the whole thing is buried and allowed to cook for several hours, serving as an underearth pressure cooker (similar to the preparation of cozido in the Azores) and delivering a meal just as delicious. Bourdain enjoys a total of 16 different types of meat and vegetables; simple food, served without pretension in good company, and accompanied by good beer.
Fox Glacier/The Bushmans Centre
Following speeches and the traditional exchanging of gifts, Bourdain returns to Christchurch for his final speaking engagement, but not before a stop on the Fox Glacier on the west coast of the south island.
Here he enjoys a final beer atop the ice flow, with a more unconventional local dish – a possum pie. (This was likely a “Pete’s Possum Pie” from The Bushmans Centre, a local institution that unfortunately closed in 2018.)
Unnamed Beach Barbecue
Lastly, Tony is invited by Al Brown, one of New Zealand’s leading chefs, for a BBQ on an isolated beach accessible only by 4x4s, on the remote northland coast.
As they drive along the beach to reach their destination, Bourdain stops to pick out some local agar (a light-colored gelatinous substance found in seaweed), noting that it is finding favor amongst molecular gastronomy fans such as Ferran Adria of El Bulli, who uses it to thicken his hot jelly consume.
The BBQ itself focuses on locally found seafood, caught fresh that morning. Tony is treated to tuatua (a mollusk found in the sand) sauteed in white wine and butter with herbs, baked crayfish, and abalone (a marine snail delicacy) lightly seasoned with chili pepper, salt, and pepper before being grilled.
Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in New Zealand, or the local foods he ate there? Let me know in the comments!