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Our next stop in the Tauranga region was Kiwifruit Country. We’d seen kiwi orchards all along our drive. The plots are often surrounded by barrier trees that have been trained to be tall and thin. The barrier trees block noise and wind to protect the trees.
The kiwi farm had a small store where we got to do a tasting. We tasted fresh kiwis, jams, chutney, juice, and dried fruit – but not just one of each. We got to taste all of those items in two different varieties – green and gold. I didn’t know that gold kiwis existed but they are delicious, sweeter and less tangy than their green counterparts.
Once the tour officially started, our guide led us around the orchard. The trees grow straight up and they are trained to create a ceiling down each row. The kiwifruits hang down, creating a canopy.
We learned so much about the process of growing kiwis. About 65% of the kiwis grown in New Zealand are shipped to Europe. A majority of the gold kiwis go to Asia, where people pay a premium for the sweeter flavor. The kiwis are harvested over several months, in which entire rows are stripped at once. The unripened fruit is put in cold storage for up to 9 months before it gets shipped out. The kiwis are ripened via ethylene while underway.
We bought some dried green kiwis and fresh gold kiwis to enjoy while road tripping, and took off to drive through the center of the north island into the Taupo Volcanic Zone.