Thomas Southam enjoys a burger pie at Houhora Honey Bees during filming to promote Te Tai Tokerau’s top growers, producers, restaurants and cafes. Photo / supplied
Food-loving visitors can indulge in Northland’s best eats thanks to a series of online videos and content promoting the region as a major foodie destination.
New Zealand vloggers Thomas and Sheena Southam have teamed up
with Northland Inc to create content advertising Te Tai Tokerau’s top growers, producers, restaurants, cafes and craft beverages.
“Long Lunching, Northland Style” launched in core domestic visitor markets this month.
Northland Inc created four itineraries on which the Southams – renowned foodies and travellers from Chasing A Plate – based their videos, going behind the scenes of 30 businesses to showcase Northland’s “bold flavours and warm hospitality”.
The Southams have spent the last month eating their way around Northland and filming their foodie road trip, which covers icons like the Duke of Marlborough and Mangonui Fish Shop to gems like Biggie Bagels in Whangārei and Matich’s Fish Shop in Dargaville.
“The videos see us travelling all over the region and taking viewers behind the scenes including short interviews with the local characters,” Sheena said.
“Meeting all these owners and operators… we had such a great time really engaging with them about the Northland food scene,” Thomas said.
“They’re all so passionate about living here and their produce and ingredients. That really shone through when we spoke to them.”
The new Northland series includes five foodie videos:
1. Kaiwaka, Mangawhai, Waipū, Whangārei and Tūtūkākā
2. Bay of Islands on the Russell side
3. Bay of Islands on the Kerikeri side
4. Doubtless Bay, Houhora and Kaitāia
5. Hokianga to Dargaville.
“We covered a lot of ground; chocolate factories, breweries, fine dining, pies, fish and chips,” Sheena said.
“They highlight Northland as a food destination and the ability to just jump in the car and spend one to three days and build this amazing food journey.
“You can do as much or as little as you want. There’s everything on there – cafes, producers, restaurants, markets – the whole gamut.”
Northland Inc general manager of destinations Tania Burt said the food and beverage scene in Te Tai Tokerau “has been growing in quality and depth for some time”.
It was an important drawcard for visitors to the region, she said.
“In addition to some of Tai Tokerau’s more recognisable dining locations, we’ve been able to uncover and showcase experiences which aren’t as well-known, encouraging visitors to stay longer and experience more of what Northland has to offer.”
Burt said the development of the campaign and supporting content fall within Northland Inc’s Taitokerau Northland Food and Beverage Action Plan.
“Our regional visitor spend sits just over $1 billion per annum, making the visitor industry a significant contributor to Northland’s economy.
“The potential of the food tourism market is largely untapped for us, so continuing to evolve our visitor offering remains a core focus.”
The Southams have long travelled the world in search of the best local eateries in their plight to discover different cultures through food.
The Southams video their experiences and share them on the YouTube channel, blog and social media platforms Chasing A Plate.
The last time they were in Northland was in 2020, shortly after Covid-19 put a stop to their lifestyle.
They quickly pivoted their business and filmed a New Zealand series to showcase Aotearoa’s food culture which included several episodes in Northland.
The couple, who moved to the Far North several months ago, began filming their latest project in mid-September and had wrapped up by mid-October.
The first video was released on October 16 on YouTube and on Northland Inc’s website, with other videos released every Sunday over the next several weeks.
“It was incredible fun, we’ve met so many great people and ate so much good food,” Thomas said.
“As new residents to the Far North, it gave us the opportunity to really get out and discover the region,” Sheena said.
Sheena and Thomas’s most memorable meals
“I love Matich’s Fish Shop in Dargaville. The fish and chip shop has been there since 1930 and Justine and Rick have recently taken it over but kept the whole vibe. The fish are dropped off by local fishermen fresh off the boat.” Sheena
“The Duke of Marlborough is such an icon. I love what chef Tana is doing with traditional Māori food with local ingredients. Where else can you get a boil-up at a place like that? It’s special.” Sheena
“The winery meals at Marsden Estate near Kerikeri and Sage at Paroa Bay. They both offer gorgeous meals with beautiful outlooks, stunning food, and great friendly service.” Thomas
“Schnappa Rock in Tutukaka is such a fun meal. We got to go to their garden in Maungatapere, they’re growing to order so they’re super sustainable and organic. It’s fascinating seeing them work in tandem with the garden and the food is delicious. Thomas
“Biggie Bagels – I loved them, the whole vibe, the team and the food. The house-smoked meats and salmon and hand-rolled bagels… it’s just a really cool place to have in Whangārei. Sheena