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Lovely Grub and the Great New Zealand Trek

If you wish to learn about location catering this is the story to read.

This story started some seven years ago when Gavin heard this trek that was travelling from Cape Reinga to the Bluff, 8 days per year. He pitched three years running for the job in the North Island and gained a meeting with the trek principals during the last North Island leg.

Lovely Grub had just returned from 12 days at Twizel catering for Maadi Cup rowers when Judy, Pat and Gavin packed a new set of clean clothes and headed off for a 3 day road trip to Martinborough to learn about how to service the trek in the coming years. It was a fun trip combining work with pleasure - as is our way. (Lots of wine tasting and some sightseeing along the way). We believe what sets us apart from other caterers is the way we enjoy what we do. Being part of our client’s collaboration to make their event a success is another thrill.

It was to be another two years before we were successful in securing the first trek.  Read on for photos and accounts of the last two years

Video 1024Watch us on location - Some of the 2016 Great NZ Trek is shown here. 

2016 - Three hundred and thirty trekkers catered for three meals per day.

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  • Day One 20th Feb - Annavale Station, 6029 West Coast Road, Springfield (about 4 kms. past Springfield)
  • Day Two 21st Feb - High Peak Station, end of High Peak Road, Windwhistle
  • Day Three 22nd Feb - Glenarn, very end of McFarlane's Road, Alford Forest
  • Day Four & Five 23rd &24th Feb - Surrey Hills Station, Surrey Hills Road, Mount Somers
  • Day Six 25th Feb - Peel Forest Estate, 1 Brake Road, Peel Forest
  • Day Seven 26th Feb - Blue Mountain Station, Blue Mountain Road
  • Day Eight 27th Feb - Clayton Station, 2170 Lochaber Road, Fairlie

 dsc07317 great nz trek 20170914 1002010163Trekkers climb out of Blue Mountain Station on their final leg of the 2016 Great NZ Trek

  • Hepa addressing the "muster" at a social hour before dinner.

  • The ablutions semi-trailer

  • Dinner service has just startrd at High Peak Station, Windwhistle.

  • The gear all set up in at Mt Peel.

  • The trekkers led by the horse riders out of Blue Mountain Station on the final leg of the trek

  • Digging into the tucker

  • Lovely Grub goes everywhere

2017 - Three hundred and thirty trekkers catered for three meals per day

dsc01956 great nz trek 20170914 1757683712The trekkers and Lovely Grub stopped at the Historic Vulcan Hotel where the boss shouted coffee.

  • Saturday 4th March - Bauchops Hill, 846 Rollesby Valley Road, Burkes Pass
  • Sunday 5th March - 36 km shift to Gray’s Hills, 3249 Haldon Road, Lake Benmore
  • Monday 6th March - 116 km shift to Glenbrook Station, 2132 Twizel Omarama Highway
  • Tuesday 7th March - 25 km shift to Ben Omar Station
  • Wednesday 8th March - rest day
  • Thursday 9th March - 20 km shift to Twin Burn Station
  • Friday 10th March - 202 km shift to Two Runs Station (part of Dunstan Burns), Hawkdun Runs Road, Saint Bathans – campsite is 5 kms up Hawkdun Runs Road from Loop Road
  • Saturday 11th March - 25 km shift to Hopehill, 765 Lauder Flat Road, Becks
  • Sunday 12th March - GO HOME!!!!!!

dsc01857 great nz trek 20170914 2064343555Mobile kitchens set up at Ben Omar for the 2017 Great NZ Trek.

  • Marquee being errected at Gray's Hills Station to cover us for dinner in 3 hours time.

  • Eagerness at the buffet

  • Staff taking a break from driving

  • Set up at Ben Omar

  • Camp at Ben Omar

  • Patiently waiting for the boss at Twin burn station.

  • Lunch break for the Lovely Grub staff

  • Lovely Grub fleet parked for lunch in the Cromwell Gorge during 5 hour drive from Twizel to St Bathans

  • The trekkers and Lovely Grub stopped at the Historic Vulcan Hotel where the boss shouted coffee.

  • Staff having coffee at the Historic Vulcan hotel

  • Trailer with 'gull wings' open for action

  • Giving the pot a good stir

2018 - Starts at Ophir on March 3 2018 and finishes at Laurence on Sunday the 12 th.

Then the team drives to Twizel to have 2 days off before catering for 500 Maadi Cup rowers... but that’s whole new story!  

A typical day

The alarm goes off for the breakfast crew at 3.30 am. The last thing I remembered was the phone said its alarm will go off in five and a half hours’ time. Well that time has arrived.

So it’s 'turn the ovens on' and off for quick shower in the really cool trek showers on the back of one of the semis. Then, into preparations for the full cooked breakfast for 3.30am. Porridge, cereal fruit and toast are included. 5.30am and the third breakfast staff member joins us with two of the lunch team. Mac has already got the front of house sorted along with the toast.

Two buffets are set up, one for the trekker’s breakfast, other for their lunch. The early-birds start eating and lunch packing any time after 5.00am when food is ready.

The rest of the team is now on board for breakfast service.

Our staff get to eat at around 7.45am while the Trek volunteers have already got the walls off the marquee and all the tables and chairs except ours are back on another semi. Once we have eaten, we pack down, ready to move out to the next camp site around 9.30am. Then there is usually a short drive, maybe an hour long, to the next site. Lunch is often eaten on the way.

dsc01816 great nz trek 20170914 1279992062The heart of the trek operation. In 3 hours’ time, this marquee will be erected at Gray's Hills Station, covering us for dinner. You will see the spreadsheet print-out of the menu used for ordering and preparing meals. Above are the tasty herb and spice jars, below, an obligatory water bottle for staff hydration.

Our team of vehicles arrive to a line in the paddock. The white truck and trailer move in to position and the rest of our gear shuffles into place. By 1.00pm the kitchens are already onto making the evening meal. The marquee is nearly erected by the very slick team from the trek.

Dinner is served at 6.00pm after the “muster”, a social time for a few drinks and stories from the day’s events by the trekkers. We are usually cleaned up and have the breakfast prep done by 9.30pm.  Then it's time to start the cycle again.

Part of a team.

At Lovely Grub we know how good our staff are and how well they perform. We have the equipment and the know how to get the job done. But it is a real pleasure to work with a client who also has a top set up.

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There are several independent contractors like ourselves doing the hard-yards to providing services to ensure tasty meals are ready on time, allowing the trekker’s to have the time-of-their lives, enjoying the best New Zealand has to offer.

  • Our potable water is bought to us in a bulk tanker
  • Our bulk power needs are taken care of once the camp is set up Until then we function off our own generators If a connection is needed for the toaster or some other bit of equipment, we only need to ask
  • Lovely showers are a must when working hard and it is a pleasure to use the toilets which are kept immaculate on their semi
  • Our staff are accommodated 3 to a caravan which are like a home away from home

dsc07236 great nz trek 20170914 1368058060High standard ablutions on the semi-trailer

dsc07237 great nz trek 20170914 1686725817Dinner service starting at High Peak Station, Windwhistle 2016

We work with an amazing team of contractors and volunteers from the Great NZ Trek and we feel valued as a central part of the team. This is no better demonstrated by the fact that when we have finished breakfast and lunch service we sit down to have our own meal. The marquee team has already removed all the tables and chairs as well as the marquee walls. You will find our group of eight eating a well-earned meal in the middle of an empty tent. They marquee team will never ask us to move until we get up to do our own pack out. In fact they insist we have our break no matter how rushed they are.

In summary, those early years of repeated pitches for this business were difficult at the time but the trek business has grown into a wonderful partnership which epitomises the way Lovely Grub operates.