North Otago, of which Oamaru is the largest town, and which includes the Waitaki District, is one of New Zealand’s prime agricultural areas, with countless producers growing some of the country’s finest vegetables and raising some of the best meats. The area is famed for being the home of New Zealand’s iconic Oamaru Jersey Benne potatoes, the new potatoes that everyone in NZ wants on their Christmas table, and their arrival in the shops signals that summer is on the way. The glasshouses of Kakanui produce some of the tastiest tomatoes, and there are growers who are bringing forth exciting and delicious chilies, capsicums, and other produce more typical of much warmer parts of the world.
The meat producers of the area are renowned not only for the excellence of their product, but also for the humane way in which they raise their animals. A prime example of this is Havoc Farms, which, though technically in South Canterbury just over the Waitaki River from us, is, in my view at least, an ‘honourary’ North Otago producer. All the finest shops and restaurants in the area–and throughout New Zealand–pride themselves on offering Havoc Farms products, and the reason is simple. Not only are their bacon, ham, and pork products delicious, but their pigs are all free-range, and they make minimal use of any ‘interventionist’ approaches, so they use no antibiotics, hormones, or growth stimulants. Havoc has been recognised countless times for their excellent product, winning numerous awards from all over the country. Their bacon especially is a real knock-out, and the variety that they have on offer is astounding.
Riverstone Kitchen, Oamaru’s multi-award-winning restaurant, not only has Havoc pork on their menu, but you can also buy pork products to take home from their shop. And Pen-y-bryn Lodge uses Havoc pork exclusively, so you can sample their bacon with your breakfast, or enjoy lodge-cured chorizo made with Havoc pork, or try their sous-vide porchetta, made with Havoc pork belly.