Natural Wonders

Travel bites: New Zealand’s best sandwich is tucked away on the West Coast

The Hokitika Sandwich Company has queues most days.

Hokitika Sandwich Company/Supplied

The Hokitika Sandwich Company has queues most days.

Natural wonders, human-made monuments and cultural experiences typically serve as the headline points of interest when venturing beyond borders and hopping over oceans. For some, it’s local delicacies that rise up like Michaelangelo’s David and make the journey entirely worth it.

France has its fries, Belgium has its biscuits and Australia has its dark brown yeast spread, but in this series we’ll be highlighting food worth travelling around New Zealand for. Stamp these culinary delights in your passport – just don’t expect pineapple-flavoured lumps.

“A 45-minute wait!” The person in front of us walked out.

All of us in the queue grinned. Those in the know would never walk out. Ever.

There is only one place in all the West Coast you’ll routinely find a queue, come rain or shine. It’ll be outside the Hokitika Sandwich Company, and this humble little shop sells the best sandwiches I’ve ever tasted.

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How good can a sandwich be? I compare it to chocolate. It’s as if you’ve been eating cooking chocolate your entire life and suddenly discover Whittaker’s.

A few years ago, Kiwi Joseph Walker left his award-winning restaurant in the US to open a sandwich bar in Hokitika, which fast became a local institution. The last time I visited, I queued up with a lady from Wānaka who had decided to bring her family back to the West Coast for their second holiday in a row – because she wanted to try more flavours. Yes, they are that good.

It’s hard to pin down why we all get so excited about a sandwich. Part of the reason is the shop uses as many local ingredients as possible – such as ciabatta bread baked in Hokitika, free-range meats, South Island cheeses, organic greens and home-made sauces.

Joseph Walker’s shop is now the most popular in Hokitika.

Jase Blair/Supplied

Joseph Walker’s shop is now the most popular in Hokitika.

The way the crunchy bread works with the meats, warm cheese and delicious sauces is wizardry.

Part of the attraction is also seeing Walker in action, who is like an artist putting the sandwich together. If you have any particular requirements, he launches a series of probing questions to make sure he delivers just what you’re after. You can tell he has an enormous passion – and it comes through in the flavour.

While the wait can be long, bottomless Havana coffee is there to help tide you over.

Part of the shop’s success is a focus on top quality ingredients.

Hokitika Sandwich Company/Supplied

Part of the shop’s success is a focus on top quality ingredients.

And if you can’t wait for your next trip to Hokitika, in November, Walker will launch an outlet in Christchurch.

But, there’s nothing quite like tasting the original, made by the maestro himself. And you’ll only get that on the West Coast. A trip across the Southern Alps is always an adventure; now it can be for your taste buds as well.

Fact file

Where to eat: Hokitika Sandwich Company is located at 83 Revell Street, Hokitika. Sandwiches start from $10 for half size or $19 full.

Staying safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. For the latest travel rules, see covid19.govt.nz.

Do you have a favourite snack worth travelling for? Email us at travel@stuff.co.nz or let us know in the comments.


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