You can’t miss it, on the way in from the south to the alpine town of Ohakune, in the central North Island of New Zealand….a sign that welcomes you to where adventures begin - and a giant (and we’re talking giant - think 7.5 metres) carrot.
Welcome to Ohakune, where adventures begin, and where there’s great and deserved tribute paid to impressive kiwi vegetables and a proud history of market gardening.
This is New Zealand’s carrot capital…
And just beyond the giant carrot you’ll find a heritage park, a perfect place to spend some picnic time, to learn about Ohakune’s history, and to reflect on the growers of special vegetable offerings for the rest of the country.
A vegetable park…
Welcome, Haere Mai, Arohanui to All Travellers of the World. So the sign says, and what a friendly welcome it is.
What a treat to see the famous giant carrot, joined by newer veggies with big personalities - carrot, swede, potato, brussel sprout and parsnip. You’ll find information boards about vegetables, market gardener growers and forestry - as a homage to the district's history - and a heritage path with bricks naming the many growers who have been integral to the Ohakune community over the years.
A vegetable history….
The meaning of Ohakune in Māori is "the place of the careful ones”.
And we’ve read that the area was settled around the 1600s, first by Ngāti Rangi and Ngāti Uenuku. Later, surveyors arrived to mark a railway to travel through the central North Island, linking Wellington and Auckland for transport, followed by sawmillers focused on forestry.
And then Chinese market gardeners arrived - and later farmers - to work with the area’s fantastic volcanic soil. The first market gardens can trace back nearly a century. Crops were planted, as demand increased, to feed local and US military troops during the second world war. And, after the war, land was converted to farms for returning servicemen.
The place of careful ones. The place of vegetable ones. Take care with those vegetables, grown so carefully over the last century by some outstanding contributors to New Zealand’s dinner plates.
And plenty of vegetables today
Market growers around these parts keep diversifying, but carrots are still the main crop, followed closely by potatoes - so see Ohakune’s heritage vegetable park’s Muncho Manchester the Carrot and Perla the Potato. But don’t forget parsnips, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and swedes - the park’s Sir Lancelot the Brussel Sprout, Crimson King the Superlative Swede and the newest arrival Panorama the Parsnip…
What a treat to celebrate vegetables, and their growers, here in view of nearby Mt Ruapehu, home of winter skiing and summer tramping. We’re very happy to pay tribute to tremendous kiwi vegetables and market gardeners too.
To the makeshift kitchen
The land of vegetables - sprouts, parsnips, swedes, potatoes. But we couldn’t go past that giant carrot and Muncho Manchester the Carrot - the carrot sure is inspiring. For a carrot salad to add to the evening meal back at home base, check out our carrot, yoghurt and green herb salad idea. And try an anytime carrot and blue cheese snack idea too.
Your road trip companion….
To find more on The FoodPath NZ’s handpicked eateries and food producers, for our collection of spot on New Zealand food moments to check out on your next New Zealand trip, including Ōhākune food treasures, download The FoodPath NZ’s food trail guide here.