We had been warned that food in New Zealand was expensive and we were fully prepared to reign ourselves in after our jaunt around America which had proved to be a gastronomic delight. The plan was to minimise eating out and to prepare as many of our own meals as possible. We would then utilise Subway and their foot long sandwiches to fill in the inevitable lunchtime gaps, as we had done in America. Simple, what could possibly go wrong?
Upon our first Subway purchase we noticed there was a glaring fault in our strategy. Without even realising it we had fallen into the trap of expecting an American sized Subway sandwich, unsurprisingly this was not the case! The sandwich cost slightly more but was still called the same thing, it was still a foot long, it still had the same ingredients but not the same quantity. Oh dear.
We had become so accustomed to watching the staff in the American Subway outlets wrestling to close the sandwich in the same way as someone struggles to close an overpacked suitcase. It turns out that the Subway employees in New Zealand (like the rest of the world) don’t have this problem as they use the fillings somewhat more sparingly.
This was not good and our plan went up in smoke immediately. Subway was the traveller food of legend, but there was no way we could survive on one sandwich between us and by purchasing two to fill our stomachs we would empty our wallets too quickly. It was a catch 22 situation and one we needed to resolve. When food is concerned it is amazing how our brains become focussed to the task in hand and it wasn’t long before we had struck culinary gold.
Driving through a little town in the North Island we were getting a bit peckish and noticed that nestled amongst the shops there seemed to be an above average number of bakeries. We stopped and decided to have a look in one. We hoped they might have a pie or a sandwich to keep us going. We fully expected to have to pay over the odds, but hey we were hungry and there didn’t seem to be too many other options.
As we walked in we couldn’t believe our eyes, not only were there pies, all freshly made and in every flavour imaginable, there were piles of fresh sandwiches and enough cakes to make anyone with a sweet tooth go a little bit giddy – that would be me then! The quality and choice was a pleasant surprise, but the price was the icing on the cake – pun fully intended – sorry.
We each devoured a steak, bacon and mushroom pie and an unbelievable custard slice (purely for research purposes) and it was all fantastic. Price wise it was also very comparable to Subway, so it seemed we had stumbled across a solution. However, the problem was it was an independent bakery in the middle of nowhere, maybe we had just got lucky and this was a one off. We decided very quickly that this called for more exhaustive research and we spent the remainder of our time in New Zealand frequenting as many independent bakeries as possible. The conclusion – we didn’t have one bad experience. Every single bakery we visited had a brilliant selection of food, all fresh and all very reasonably priced. If only we had known about this before we had arrived in the country we would not have had to do so much research of our own – oh well never mind!
It wasn’t just the bakeries though, we decided to branch out in our food buying mentality and buy from the “little guy” as often as possible. Surprisingly the independent butchers could also compete favourably with the larger outlets and some of the meat we bought was as good as anything we had tasted.
Don’t get me wrong, the supermarket produce is pretty good and you will need to utilise them for a lot of your food, but our advice is whether you are on a tight budget or not don’t forget the butchers, the bakers and probably even candlestick makers (although we didn’t actually come across any of those!)