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It’s not just visitors getting a kick out of Taste of Plenty’s bespoke food tours, locals are discovering new favourites they never knew existed. 

“That is absolutely the norm,” laughs tour guide, passionate foodie Kathrin Chappell. “I’d estimate about 90% of locals don’t know what’s on their own doorstep.”

The former Los Angeles chef to the stars designs the “Bites of the Bay” tours. They were originally designed for cruise ship passengers, but parent company, Mount Classic Tours, has completely re-designed the tours to suit New Zealanders.

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“We had some head scratching to do,” admits owner, Ian Holroyd. “We had to figure out how to get our face and business in front of Kiwis.” 

In place of the avocado and kiwifruit orchards, beaches, Mount Maunganui and local farms, tours now turn the spotlight on artisan food and beverage producers and those hidden gems that are ‘off the eaten track’.

“It’s about showing guests the smaller or boutique stores and learning the story behind them,” says Ian. 

“It’s not just shops you see on the high street, it’s down the back alleys and in the industrial areas. We want to introduce you to something new.”

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First stop is Mount Made ice cream with its gelato green frontage and iconic bike in the doorway. 

The ice cream flavours are like the work of a mad scientist – sticky banana and spiced walnut, ginger passionfruit and coconut, and avocado lemon and buttermilk. Owner Glenn Stubbs admits his mind is forever whirling with ideas.

“If I eat at a restaurant or a cafe I’m always thinking ‘would this work as an ice cream?’ I’ve tried some crazy flavours like bacon, for example. A few have been a little off the chart,” he laughs. “But I love it when customers push the boat out and go for something you wouldn’t find in a supermarket.”

The team is literally cracking eggs into ice cream churners out the back to make small batches of bespoke flavour combinations. Ingredients are locally sourced when possible – including tangelos off Glenn’s mother-in-law’s tree and Solomon’s Gold chocolate.

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The award-winning chocolate maker is next on our tour. Former coffee farmer Glenn Yeatman tells us he uses two main ingredients cacao and coconut sap which makes it a healthier option.

“It’s packed with antioxidants,” he says, holding up the husk of a cacao bean. “That little skin, there, has seven times the antioxidants of spinach. The actual chocolate has more. That’s the biggest challenge we’ve always faced; Convincing people that something that tastes so good is actually really good for you.”

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At Pizzaroma, we meet Marco Fabrin, an Italian chef who has made New Zealand his home for the last ten years. Marco’s pizza dough is famous – light, crispy and absolutely delicious. 

“This product is different to a normal pizza. It has a longer fermentation, lower calories, lower in fat and lighter than a common pizza”, says Marco.

“We use the best we can find, not the second choice. Customers come back to tell me they love the pizza, they love the taste.”

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Next, we find ourselves winding through the backlots of the Mount’s industrial area to sausage artisan, The Snag Co. The location of the small store makes it feel as though we’re joining an exclusive club of connoisseurs. 

“I like the idea of being a little hidden,” says owner Bruno Oller. “People who want quality are going to go wherever you are. My sausages are 100% natural custom-made and the meat is locally sourced.

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Our final stop for the day is boutique winery Leveret & Mills Reef Winery where we enjoy a cheese platter with a generous tasting selection of wines. 

“It’s an extra on this tour,” says Kathrin. “But it could be the cidery in Te Puna or whatever else the group is interested in. Each tour is tailor made to suit the customers and we’re always coming up with new ideas. Watch this space!”  

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