Originally added to the website in May 2016, added again now - celebrating New Zealand Cheese Month.
It’s a fresh day, heading to the Waikato, one of New Zealand’s outstanding dairy regions. You know when you’re getting close, rolling green pastures as far as the eye can see. And those cows…. key players in the production line for New Zealand’s artisan cheeses, building a deserved reputation for champion cheese.
So, if you are travelling in the Waikato, or find yourself there enjoying some of its great walks and trails, here’s a few Putaruru treasures to look out for.
Off to South Waikato
Located close to many main centres (Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupō), you’ll find a dairy-rich region, with lots of boutique cheese producers - not to mention the amazing spring that is the font of most of New Zealand’s bottled water supply.
And, we’ll say it again, it really is green around here, green like a rainbow of greens.
We’re over the moon
On State Highway 1, at Putaruru, you can’t miss the gorgeous corner dairy, and look out for the black and white wall of childhood nursery rhyme: hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon, the little dog laughed to see such fun, and the dish ran away with the spoon. Over the Moon cheese, you’re there.
Once inside, join a pretty constant stream of customers, from near and far, enjoying a generous tasting of their award-winning range. There’s fresh, the softies, semi-hard and the blues - not to mention the runaway spoon - all made with Waikato local cow, sheep and goat milk, as well as buffalo milk from Matakana.
The cheese-making is happening, often, directly through the large window. It looks like hard work, vigorous stirring of all sorts of creations in big vats. But the hard work ends up as mighty fine cheese.
There’s a spot for coffee and real town New Zealand main street watching, and plenty of other local treats to add to the cheese plate you’ll want to take away. Oh, and they’ll sell you an ice-pack and cheese knife, for your travels, too.
Walk to water
So, with cheese and treats in hand, make the most of the Waikato’s great walking trails. There are a number of them, and a recommended local was the Te Waihou Walkway towards the Blue Spring.
There are plenty of New Zealand native trees on show, and some amazingly clear water. That all makes good sense, when you read, along the track, that you’ve found yourself at the source of 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water. There’s plenty of quiet places to perch with a picnic, or indeed that cheese plate.
And so, “South Waikato, discover it, live it, love it.” Agreed. And thanks for the welcome.
And there’s more…
There’s plenty more on offer in this home of dairy. Lots of other wonderful cheesemakers - Aroha and Meyer were picked up along the way, and Mercer cheese is on the northern cusp…..a little gem of a stop off just of the main expressway.
And to find more on The FoodPath NZ’s handpicked eateries and artisans, for our collection of spot on New Zealand food moments, including on the road to Putaruru, download our New Zealand Food Trail Guides app here.