You’re in a South Island town with stunning and renowned limestone Victorian architecture. Yes, it’s that classic Oamaru stone, creamy white stone no less, grand and prominent on many of the buildings in the historic precinct. You’d be forgiven for believing that perhaps you’d gone back in time - through a time machine seeing yesteryears, today, right in front of your eyes.
Where you’ll find beautiful Whitestone…
And the beautiful stone lends its description to the name of an equally beautiful local cheese.... it’s chalk and cheese, perhaps, but this time the two go hand in hand, perfectly. Whitestone Cheese, another local treasure, and one of New Zealand’s leading artisan cheesemakers - you’ll find this spot on regional business in the classic white stone Oamaru.
This multi-generation family cheesemaking business started as the brainchild of a farming family, in the late 1980s, as a diversification initiative. It was a reinforcement for the family farming business, to provide some shelter against the effects of debilitating droughts through that time. And, while at that time a few clouds were possibly just the thing the family were looking for, if ever there was a silver lining, we’d have to say that the founding of Whitestone Cheese would surely be it.
Behind great cheese…
Behind these great cheeses is a pasture to plate philosophy. Good cheese requires good milk. Good milk requires good animals. Good animals require good grass. And good grass requires good soil and good water. And that makes Oamaru and the surrounding Waitaki district a tremendous location for this increasingly well known and successful business. It’s all about that amazing local soil and water, and some super local farms. And some very clever artisan cheesemakers.
There’s a delightful selection of Whitestone cheeses - and you’ll find them in farmers’ markets dotted around the country, and some labels in established retail stores. Of course, there’s the lovely local Oamaru home store too, where cheese factory tours are on the cards as well. It’s just the spot to pull into for some excellent cheese tastings, and a chance to choose your treasure from across the range that’s available.
And while we’re not about picking favourites, we’d have to say we’re delighted to hear news of Shenley Station blue taking off… because we love the cheese, but also the special New Zealand story behind it. The country’s own strain of penicillium roqueforti blue mould (first named after the French caves in which it was found) was discovered in the middle of some baleage at Shenley Station… and so you have it, Shenley Station blue. It sure is a stunning New Zealander, through and through.
A Whitestone Cheese moment (or two)
As a country with a strong dairy heritage, we’re well known for taking our dairy products to the world. But here at The FoodPath NZ we take a real pleasure in celebrating, and enjoying, the exceptional work of our artisan cheesemakers like Whitestone Cheese. These are the clever people who take extra special care and produce specialty local cheese which is delicious and truly in a class of its own.
With such magnificent product, it’s sure worth putting on your plate whenever you have the chance. And perhaps the best thing for anyone on the move is that there’s so little to be done to enjoy a perfect meal (other than get it to room temperature first!). So our Whitestone Cheese moment… this simple picnic platter sums it up perfectly.
But, if turning on an oven makes you feel better, you can check out our Whitestone baked camembert idea here too.
And for more…
To find more on The FoodPath NZ’s handpicked eateries and artisans, for our collection of spot on New Zealand food moments, including more in Oamaru, and our New Zealand cheese trail, download our New Zealand food trail guides app here.