Say Whanganui (sometimes you’ll also see it spelt Wanganui), and many New Zealanders conjure up images of a majestic city straddling a mighty river. It’s one of New Zealand’s significant rivers - starting out at Mount Tongariro and finishing at the Tasman sea, on this riverside city’s coastline. And it’s a city with a fine array of heritage and culture on show, there’s much Māori and European history to this place - of times long gone, and more recently too.
Outside of the city you’ll find yourself at some excellent seaside locations, it’s a spot nestled right into the North Island’s west coast. And then, a little inland, fertile pastures, which lend to many agricultural and horticultural pursuits.
But let’s talk about the super spuds
Even in this west coast spot full of treasures, nothing beats finding, on a drive down semi-rural roads, exceptional produce, picked fresh from rowed market gardens right in front of your eyes.
It’s a moment full of charm, pulling into Laugesens Gardens, on one of its three days where it opens the garden gate shop to the public. A steady stream of locals in the know pull up alongside. The bounty of the garden shop has come straight from those spectacular tilled fields set out right in front of you.
One of New Zealand’s special market gardeners
Market gardens have long been a feature of New Zealand. Māori traded their excellent produce with European settlers, then novices to the opportunities and vagaries of the soil and the climate. And as a land of green, with stunning soils and an influx of immigrants, the industry sprouted still more.
But there are constant challenges. Rapid growth in urban areas affects available land. And it’s definitely an industry exposed to the whims of nature. So it can be tricky at the best of times, you could say it has its share of growing pains.
All the more reason to pull up when you spot one, our market gardeners are a real New Zealand treasure. With stunningly fresh and delicious produce to fill your boot [noun: trunk], and your boots, even red bands… [noun: kiwi classic gumboots].
The lovely Laugesens
And so, here you are at Laugesens. It’s an intergenerational family business, and the family’s green fingers are obvious.
The spuds are famous, lauded by New Zealand’s top chefs. This day, it’s freshly dug Ilam Hardy, Red Fantasy, Agria…
But, if spuds aren’t your thing, there’s plenty more. Parsnip, onion, shallots, buttercups, butternut, sweetcorn, carrots, rhubarb, leeks, chard…. all fresh as fresh, a rainbow of early autumn colours. And, today, PYO tomatoes too. It’s seriously pretty, and pretty serious too. A fabulous selection, and a hard job choosing. It’s one of those lucky moments you get on the road.
Getting back to the spuds
And what to do with these famous spuds… Back at base, here’s a super simple baked spud idea. It’s an easy one at the end of the day, using a couple of other excellent New Zealand products too. It’ll fill the travelling team, and make them smile till the morning.
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 the fabulous Laugesens Gardens and more, download The FoodPath NZ’s app here.