Jimmy Doherty goes on a New Zealand escape

Jimmy Doherty (Photo: ugc)
Jimmy Doherty (Photo: ugc)

Back in 2015, Jimmy Doherty travelled Down Under to film his travel documentary series Jimmy’s Australian Food Adventure.

Now, eight years on, the farmer and food lover is visiting the Aussies’ Antipodean neighbour New Zealand, to shine a light on a country which he believes is home to some of the planet’s finest and most surprising foods.

When asked why he chose the ‘land of the long white cloud’ as his destination, Jimmy explained to Stuff: “I thought it’d be a fantastic thing to do because I think, for most Brits these days, and when I started, you have a sort of a very narrow view of New Zealand.

“We get snippets of news and often see how progressive New Zealand is, but we still have this stereotypical view of it.

“I’ve done lots of shows about agriculture in the past and, obviously, loads of shows on food and that’s often a gateway into a culture.

“I jumped at the chance because I thought lots of people have done tours of New Zealand before, but not necessarily from the grassroots level.

“The other thing I like about it is you can walk through New Zealand without worrying about getting bitten by a poisonous snake. When you go to Australia, everything wants to kill you.”

During the four-part series, Jimmy will travel from New Zealand’s frozen south to the tropical north, exploring the extraordinary beauty of Kiwi-dom as the country shakes itself from its world-shunning Covid lock out.

Along the way he meets, works alongside, and mixes with the farmers and produce-makers who are turning their passion for great food into an enviable lifestyle.

In tonight’s first edition, he sets off from the southernmost island of New Zealand, where he learns to gravity-fish in the pristine waters off Stewart Island.

Then, after a ride on a beach motorcycle to a women-only farm that specialises in sheep and deer, he heads inland to New Zealand’s oldest distillery, and discovers that they are still making superb malt whisky.

Despite being well travelled and hosting the likes of Jimmy’s Farm, Food Unwrapped and Friday Night Feast with his childhood friend Jamie Oliver down the years, the 48-year-old presenter admits he had his eyes well and truly opened on the trip.

Perhaps his biggest takeaway is how New Zealand is incorporating te ao Māori more into people’s thoughts about the natural world, concepts he’d like to see spread wider.

“The one thing that really struck me is the idea that a river or a mountain is its own being.

“And I think from a Western culture it’s always seen as just a resource to harvest.

“By giving something an identity and affording it the respect it deserves, then we talk about preserving our natural resources. It makes perfect sense.

“We talk about the natural world as a bank that we all write a cheque from and you can’t exhaust it. And I think you guys really understand that.”