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Visitors to South Otago will be able to more easily unearth the region’s hidden culinary gems after the launch of a new food trail.
For the past nine months, economic development agency Clutha Development has been working on new ways to tap into the "massive" volume of tourists travelling through the district to other major destinations.
District marketing manager Toby Bennett, said the "Taste of Clutha" food trail was just one initiative intended to make Clutha more "sticky".
"At present, we’re a major route to other destinations. But we believe if we give visitors more reasons to stick around in Clutha, such as the food trail, more of them will make that choice and go on to learn of the many other fantastic attractions the region has to offer."
Taste of Clutha was inspired by Mr Bennett’s own travels around the district as he learnt about his "new patch" on arriving in Clutha from North Otago three years ago.
The district had "fabulous" produce that many people were unaware of, he said.
"Although we’re sometimes reluctant to sing our own praises, Clutha embodies the real New Zealand for visitors. The truth is our artisan producers are doing it as well as or better than anywhere in the country, and that’s something we need to shout about a bit more."
One of 25 "boutique" producer-vendors on the new trail is Kaka Pt Honey Co beekeeper Louise Thompson, who runs the business from her seaside home in the Catlins township.
While selling the bulk of her clover and kamahi honey varieties through wholesalers and local shops, Ms Thompson also runs an honesty box stall at her gate, made from an old beehive.
This gave her the opportunity to meet her customers face-to-face, she said.
"A theme of the trail, and something we’ve always done, is that personal touch of allowing people to meet the producers and find out more about their food story.
"I love meeting our customers and hearing their excitement at buying a little piece of the real New Zealand through our honey. It’s their enthusiasm that feeds your own passion for what you do."
Ms Thompson agreed South Otago people often underplayed their abilities, and hoped to see a culture change through initiatives like Taste of Clutha.
"It’s great that Clutha Development are leading the charge with this project. I’d love to see a food community begin to take off down here."