Creative New Zealand foodies are serving up fantastic food from tiny spaces.
Around New Zealand, creative foodies are finding novel uses for tiny spaces. From sourdough to hipster cake and premium peanut butter, the fresh fare shows the size of the space puts no limit on the taste – or the welcome.
The Caker, Auckland
Artisan baker Jordan Rondel’s vegan raspberry and coconut cakes have cult status among Aucklanders. But until earlier this year, you could only buy them – and the rest of her range – by pre-ordering. Now, you’ll find The Caker’s mini-cakes in a tiny capsule on a narrow pedestrian street in downtown Auckland (14 Vulcan Lane, Auckland) – and there are order forms if you want to order something larger.
Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest and most cosmopolitan city, with the country’s largest international airport. Not far from The Caker, you’ll find a wealth of restaurants at Britomart, a gentrifying area of 19th-century warehouses, along with a weekly farmers’ market.
Lalele Organic, Auckland
Lalele Organic (350 Queen Street, Auckland) has been called the world’s smallest gelato shop. It’s four square metres – barely big enough to turn around in, but that doesn’t stop it from making really good organic gelato, sorbet and cocolato. The avocado, coconut and French tarragon gelato is a thing of brilliance.
The suburb of Ponsonby is an easy walk, bus- or taxi-ride from Queen Street and is full of local cafes by day, and upscale restaurants at night. Be sure to drop in on Ponsonby Central, where dedicated cheese-makers rub shoulders with Argentinian barbecue restaurants.
Viet Sandwich, Auckland
You’ll find Auckland’s best banh mi in a small yellow caravan in front of the AUT’s Art & Design Faculty (St Paul Street). The sandwiches are made fresh to order by enthusiastic young Vietnamese Aucklanders – the slow-cooked grilled pork is the best, served on an ever-so-slightly crunchy baguette with a dose of chilli, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs. Don’t worry about the juices running down your chin. Viet Sandwich's newly opened downtown location (Elliot St) continues with the small space theme operating out of a tiny kiosk.
Recent immigrants, mostly from Asia, have radically changed Auckland, bringing their food cultures with them, so there’s plenty of eating to be done here. And for a change of scene, the vineyards and olive groves of Waiheke Island are a half-hour ferry trip away, reached by Fullers Ferry from the downtown ferry terminal.
Ruapuke Artisan Bread, Raglan
Jenny Carter has always baked for friends and family, but now sells her bread from a 2.4-square-metre store in central Raglan, a space that started out as a delivery bay for the grocer next door. Ruapuke Artisan Bread (15 Bow Street, Raglan) is handmade at her family’s historic farmstead, and is free of additives and preservatives – it’s dense, chewy and full of flavour. She bakes each day, dropping a few loaves at people’s front doors on her way to the shop.
Raglan is a delightful small town on the west coast of the North Island, about 45 minutes’ drive from Hamilton. Air New Zealand has daily flights to Hamilton from most main centres. Known for its excellent surf breaks, Raglan is also home to a creative local community of craftspeople, musicians and artists. It’s also 1 hour and 20 minutes by road from the spectacular Waitomo Caves where you can see glowworms, or go black water rafting or abseiling.
Fix & Fogg, Wellington
With Fix & Fogg (5 Eva Street, Te Aro), ex-commercial lawyer Roman Jewell and his wife Andrea set out to make the perfect peanut butter – they roast the nuts dark, then grind them carefully. You can buy it directly from their tiny kitchen on a Wellington back alley – Jewell passes the jar through a sliding window. Tip: it’s best eaten on the spot.
The country’s capital, Wellington, is known for its creative communities, which forge a unique – and fiercely proud – local culture. It’s also an incredibly walkable city despite the vertiginous hills of the inner city suburbs, with most attractions within a short walk of downtown. Visit the innovative national museum Te Papa right on the waterfront. Wellington has its own international airport, but there are also regular flights to the city from Auckland.
The People's Bread, Wanaka
The People’s Bread is dark and dense, and it doesn't just taste good: baker Ruth Heath mills all her grains just before baking to preserve the nutrients. Heath bakes from a small mobile kitchen in Wanaka morning and night, and then her husband Jeremy delivers it by electric bike around Wanaka as soon as it’s cool enough to touch.
Wanaka is a 45-minute drive from Queenstown – which has an international airport and regular flights from major cities – but it’s much more relaxed. Set at the top of Lake Wanaka, there are alpine walks, a small-town vibe and ever-present mountains. Take a breathtaking scenic flight with Aspiring Helicopters or visit a predator-free nature reserve in the middle of Lake Wanaka with Eco Wanaka Adventures.
Mou Very, Dunedin
Mou Very (357 George Street, Dunedin) occupies a 1.8-metre-wide space in Dunedin, which doesn’t stop it from hosting live music and serving legendary cheese rolls – a confection of white bread and cheese unique to the South Island – along with craft beer and excellent cocktails. In the mornings, it also serves coffee to offset any hangover.
The second-largest city in the South Island, Dunedin thrived off the back of the 1860s gold rushes. It has beautiful stone buildings and a vibrant student population ensuring its artistic edge, while Otago Peninsula offers a wealth of activities, including albatross-watching at the Royal Albatross Centre.
Image: Dunedin's Mou Very occupies a 1.8-metre-wide space in Dunedin, which doesn’t stop it from hosting live music and serving legendary cheese rolls.
CREDIT: Marcia Butterfield / www.neatplaces.co.nz