You will have no trouble sourcing gluten free food if you are going to New Zealand for a holiday, if you think Australia is good at gluten free (true in some cases but not universally), New Zealand does it better. We had enjoyable experience after enjoyable experience food-wise but also (if you are considering NZ as your next holiday destination) the holiday overall was spectacular too.
We went hiking on Franz Josef Glacier, floating through a cave system on a tyre tube, right into a solar system of glow worms (who knew a 'worm' could be so beautiful!) and did plenty of hiking in some very typical (wet and cold) NZ weather! It was spectacular, but now on to the food...
First stop Nelson
We didn't get our bearings in Nelson until morning but we were dying for a holiday breakfast, especially because we had spent the whole previous day travelling. We decided to have our leisurely brekky at Ford's an upmarket restaurant that didn't disappoint. We had to make sure the bread was gluten free, it looked that good, and guess what... they make it themselves. We were already confident our holiday in New Zealand was going to be great.
Wine and rugged mountains around Marlborough
Our next destination was Off The Mapp, quite literally it was! If you want to stay in an idyllic landscape surrounded by rugged mountains with the sound of the flowing river, this is the place to go and you will never want to leave. Enjoy the fabulous outdoor shower or the twin baths looking out over the river, pictured below. I didn't think we ever would have said that an outdoor shower would be the highlight of an overseas holiday but it came pretty damn close! It was dusk and quite cool but under the stream of the hot shower head, fashioned from an old watering can, it was heaven, even when it started to rain we couldn't tear ourselves away from the river view surrounded by the towering mountain range. It was a spectacular place to stay, with cooking facilities to make your own delicious gluten free meals and close to Marlborough for the wine lovers.
We only ended up spending a day wine tasting because we were in love with Off The Mapp but we had a very mentionable experience at Brancott Estate. You probably have seen their sauvignon blanc around the place but don't judge them by that. The wines at the winery were some of the best we had in NZ and the food was amazing (and very gluten free). We had the biggest, most delicious, ridiculously well priced, completely gluten free cheese plate (upon request) and that was after well executed mains. The view was sensational, needless to say we spent most of our wine tasting day here and would highly recommend you do too!
Gluten free in Kumara the historic gold mining town
After our glow worm cave experience, we stayed in a tiny village called Kumara at the Theatre Royal Hotel, firstly for the cute and finely renovated hotel and secondly for the restaurant below that offered a range of gluten free options. We had a lovely evening meal in the old gold mining village before rolling into an incredibly comfortable bed.
Gluten free food to re-energise after a glacier hike
It was another early morning start to drive to Franz Josef for our glacier hike and boy was it worth it. We had a helicopter drop us off on the glacier and then we hiked around for a few hours, it was beautiful and fascinating. Franz Josef township has plenty of food options. We ate a soup lunch at Full of Beans to warm up after being on the glacier. That evening we had Asian at King Tiger, the food was good and the staff helpful, although it did require a few questions.
The next day we drove to Wanaka, such a beautiful place. We hired bikes and rode around the lake and river. Before we set off on our ride, we purchased food supplies from Soul Food Organic. They specialise in raw, organic food and have plenty of gluten free options. We had tasty salads and some protein balls for snacks along the way. Our food experience was even better that night, with a meal at Francesca's. The risotto was gluten free and perfectly accompanied by a fresh pear and rocket salad topped with gorgonzola. The next morning we had breakfast at Relishes Cafe, simple gluten free toast (made with fresh handmade bread) and served with butter and strawberry and rhubarb jam. Delicious!
Gluten free eating in Queenstown and Glenorchy
Next stop Queenstown! We had a few lovely meals, the first being breakfast at Vudu Cafe and Larder, they even warmed my banana bread in the microwave to avoid cross contamination but this is not to be confused with Vudu Cafe where we meet friends for breakfast at a couple of days later (yes we did end up in different cafes before realising our mistake!). It is owned by the same people so the gluten free options were abundant and thoroughly delicious! The other meal of note we ate in Queenstown and one of the best meals of the trip was at Public Kitchen and Bar. We loved the decor, the food and the view. There were so many gluten free options, we were spoiled for choice. What made it for me was the giant individual pavlova I was served to finish off the meal. A girl can't say no to pav, well not this one anyway! In case you were wondering (because I had to test to make sure) they taste pretty much the same in NZ ;)
We didn't stay in Queenstown, we stayed in a little town called Glenorchy, which was near one of the walking trails we wanted to do, the Routeburn Track, which is voted one of the top 10 most beautiful walking trails in the World. It was well worth the 6 hours of walking in rain and sleet. If you are looking for gluten free food in Glenorchy there are two options for evening meals both of which were able to cater for gluten free although it meant missing out on the sauces etc. The Glenorchy Hotel and the The Glenorchy Lodge. If you are staying out that way we suggest you shop for breakfast supplies and hiking food before arriving. There isn't too much to choose from in town! If you are looking for a little self sufficient loft in the area we used stayed in this lovely property.
Our last stop was Christchurch, which was eye opening, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. We stayed at Accommodation on Cranmer and we had such delicious gluten free breakfasts and snacks provided we barely had room to dine out. If you want to be pampered we recommend you visit Carol, she will look after you well! We did however manage to fit in a delicious meal on our last evening at King of Snake. Although one of the staff was a bit stuffy, the rest of the evening was lovely and the food amazing, gluten free wasn't a problem. We did also have a meal at Winnie Bagoes which had gluten free options, including pizza if you are game to do some questioning. We were also surprised to see they had Corona marked GF on their drinks menu, which if you stick to the 20ppm rule it is. Not that we were game to have one!
Gluten free in New Zealand's South Island was a breeze
The South Island of New Zealand has some great gluten free eating options. They are very accommodating to dietary requirements and their experience in hospitality means they are only too happy to help. Most cafes, well all the ones we ate at, source freshly baked gluten free bread to substitute normal bread at breakfast or lunch and it was without exception delicious. Now I will have missed some wonderful experiences out I am sure but hopefully this will give you some peace of mind to assist with your gluten free adventure in New Zealand. Happy travelling!
Gluten free on the South Island at a glance
Theatre Royal Hotel