Journey south and you’ll find a plethora of fine produce, says Martin Bosley as he explores Queenstown and its surrounds.


If I think ‘Queenstown’, I see cold days and even colder nights, with roaring fires, fabulous local pinot noirs and the kind of soporific, boldly flavoured food you can lose yourself in. Romantic I may be, but at this time of the year, when the temperature drops, I want my dinner to be nourishing, warming, soothing. Rib-sticking, even. I’m thinking meat with a bit of bone and fat – the bone to add depth of flavour and the fat to thicken and enrich the sauce. Lamb necks or shanks fit the bill perfectly. You can roast either of these two cuts but you run the risk of them being tough. Far safer to let them wallow in an aromatic broth of wine, root vegetables and herbs.

Nicolas Karlsson and Matias Mautone from Queenstown’s Zamora call themselves ‘Meat Preachers’, such is their passion for what they do. Using a mix of traditional South American and European techniques, they produce a range of sausages and charcuterie. Their Tyrolean Speck – dry-aged and cold-smoked pork leg with hints of cinnamon – is great as a part of a platter of cured meats or as a foundation base flavour, the heart and soul of a warming winter dish.

Gibbston Valley hand-crafted European-style cheeses are made from sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s milk from Southland farms. Balfour Pecorino is a grainy cheese, rich, nutty and deeply savoury with a touch of sweetness from the sheep’s milk. Sharper than parmesan, I’ll shave it through a salad of butter leaves and walnuts, or grate handfuls of it over pasta and ragu.

Nestled beneath the Crown Range, between Arrowtown and Wānaka lies one of the oldest farms in the nation. Royalburn Station was founded in 1887 and its current ‘custodians’ are Nadia Lim and husband Carlos who have a dream to create one of the most beautiful farms on the planet. This 1200-acre alpine farm is blessed with freezing winters and scorching hot summers and its fertile soils produce over 700 tonnes of spray-free seeds and cereals. Hundreds of chickens producing pasture-raised eggs and several thousand sheep roam in a free-range environment enjoying a natural diet. Twenty acres is given over to an organic market garden growing seasonal vegetables and herbs. This is a truly circular, regenerative food system that delivers its produce directly to its customers. Raised on a diet of fresh grass, cover crops and chicory, the meat is dry-aged to produce arguably the best-tasting lamb in the country.