In the final part of our Tread Lightly series, Elisabeth Easther looks at the New Zealand food and drink businesses with sustainability at the heart of everything they do
Food production accounts for an estimated 26 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, so by selecting sustainable culinary experiences when we’re dining out, we can go a long way to minimising our footprints. To further enhance the feel-good factor, sustainably sourced food is generally healthier, because it’s created with a focus on all-round wellbeing.
St Georges Restaurant
Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay
Hawke’s Bay is one of Aotearoa’s premium food and wine destinations, where sustainability is taken very seriously. One chef embracing a truly ethical ethos is Francky Godinho of Havelock North’s St Georges Restaurant. With swags of awards under his belt, he creates delicious, nourishing meals from his own extensive organic garden - 90 per cent of the produce used is harvested onsite. The St Georges team are especially proud of the seven varieties of heirloom tomatoes they grow, which they use in salads as well as for pickles, chutneys, sauces and pastes to serve when the tomato season is over. At St Georges guests are invited to savour the freshest, finest ingredients combined in thrilling new ways, all served up in a picturesque outdoor patio overhung with grapevines and looking out to Te Mata Peak. After a short closure due to Cyclone Gabrielle, St Georges is back up and running, open Wednesdays to Sundays for lunch and dinner.
The Surf Shack Eatery
Waihi Beach, Bay of Plenty
Also open again after Cyclone Gabrielle, this award-winning, carbon-neutral Waihi Beach cafe is a must-visit in the Bay of Plenty, famous for creating delicious kai from locally sourced ingredients. They also serve excellent coffee from Mojo beans, as well as cooking up burgers rated by Lonely Planet as possibly the finest in the country. The Surf Shack provides support to local organisations including Canteen Cansurf while proprietors Pip and Jo are big supporters of the Tiaki Promise sustainability pledge. When she’s not serving customers, Pip has found time to help launch Sustainable Waihi Beach, with the goal of becoming New Zealand’s most sustainable seaside town.
The Surf Shack in Waihi Beach provides support to local organisations including Canteen Cansurf while proprietors Pip and Jo are big supporters of the Tiaki Promise sustainability pledge. Photo / Supplied
Huka Honey Hive
Established in 1993, Huka Honey Hive is committed to sustainability, bee welfare and planet care because they know a healthy environment is vital for the survival of bees. Visitors can learn all aboutbees and honey through carefully curated interactive displays, and peruse the largest selection of artisan honey products in the country. Free honey, mead and liqueur tastings sweeten the experience. Be sure to visit Cafe Hive@65 to enjoy gourmet ice creams, hot and cold drinks and a wide range of sweet treats. As part of an ongoing mission to reduce its carbon footprint, Huka Honey Hive supports groups like Greening Taupō who’ve planted tens of thousands of trees in the nearby Wairakei Corridor and greater Taupō area. The Hive’s own gardens showcase a wide selection of native New Zealand trees and bee-friendly flowers, all planted over the last 30 years. Huka Honey Hive’s sustainability journey has also seen them eliminate plastics and non-recyclables from their operations to ensure they play their part to protect the planet for generations to come.
Taupo's Huka Honey Hive is committed to sustainability, bee welfare and planet care because they know that a healthy environment is vital for the survival of bees. Photo / Supplied
Royalburn Farm Shop
Since Kiwi chef Nadia Lim decided to leave the big smoke for the Central Otago countryside, she and husband Carlos Bagrie have been on a journey of discovery in the fields of regenerative and ethical farming. Reimagining traditional practices, they are searching for more circular solutions to ensure their land, animals and food sources thrive. In a bid to connect people with the concept of how and where their food is grown, the family has converted an old shed in Arrowtown into a farm shop where visitors can purchase Royalburn produce straight off the farm, as well as meet the people who have raised and harvested it. Celebrating locally grown in-season kai, you’ll find fresh produce, meats, charcuterie, free-range eggs and other delicious small goods.
Taranaki Wharf, Wellington
Keri and Paul Retimanu from Karaka Cafe on Taranaki Wharf love to share their culture with visitors. As one of the first cultural cafes on Wellington’s waterfront kai scene, their kaupapa includes bi-lingual menus - with Māori first and English second – and they also help to keep rangatahi (youth) from leaving their hometown by creating meaningful employment opportunities. Because they take sustainability very seriously, they source produce with an emphasis on local and seasonal, while also considering packaging and waste with every purchase they make. Composting, recycling and biodegradable products are always front of mind, as the team serve up delicious food with a welcome “kia ora”.
As one of the first cultural cafes on Wellingtons waterfront kai scene, Karaka Cafe helps to keep rangatahi from leaving their hometown by creating meaningful employment opportunities. Photo / Supplied
Sawmill Brewery & Smoko Room
A three-time winner of the Brewers’ Guild Sustainability Award, Sawmill Brewery & Smoko Room is making huge strides towards complete decarbonisation. Each year the team collect approximately one million litres of rainwater from their roof, significantly reducing their reliance on their aquifer, while all wastewater goes back to the land as irrigation. This in turn informs their choices around the chemicals they use. Having installed solar energy in 2006, in 2022 they upgraded their system and now generate enough energy to cover most of their power requirements. LED lighting throughout, as well as smart lighting to read natural light levels and adjust accordingly has further reduced their reliance on electricity. Composting, reducing waste and recycling are also part of the picture, and since they started doing regular waste audits, they’ve reduced their waste to landfill to under 10kg a week. All sales vehicles are hybrid EVs and social responsibility sees them supporting a range of local charities and organisations. What’s more, Sawmill Brewery & Smoko Room is renowned for serving delicious food and beer - as well as other beverages - in a delightful rural setting.
Three-time winner of the Brewers Guild Sustainability Award, Sawmill Brewery & Smoko Room in Matakana, Auckland, is making huge strides towards complete decarbonisation. Photo / Supplied
Peihana Farm is a charming solar-powered farm that produces organic fruit, herbs, vegetables and flowers, supplying locals and the neighbourhood eatery Cafe487. It offers workshops and eco-farm tours year-round, and visitors can also sign up for courses on banana growing, fermenting foods and wild weed foraging. At Peihana, head gardener, seasonal chef and event organiser Maria Lempriere loves bringing people together to learn new skills, share ideas and support those who want to become more food resilient. With its lush location in Okoki Valley and a temperate microclimate, Peihana Farm is an ideal destination for visitors who wish to learn how to become more self-sufficient.
Proof & Stock Coffee Roasters and Café
New Plymouth, Taranaki
Adrianna and Tāne Morgan run climate-conscious Taranaki business Proof & Stock Coffee Roasters and Caf, out of a converted double garage. This clever couple do all sorts of things to reduce their impact on the planet including turning much of their business waste into eco-friendly products - like sending all their milk cartons to Saveboard in Auckland where they’re transformed into building materials like particle board, one of many green initiatives undertaken at this popular café and roastery.
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