Although New Zealand has some beautiful beaches dotted with palm trees, sometimes people don’t realise that it is not a tropical country at all. In fact, our winter in the North Island tends to be cold, windy and rainy. In the mountains and in the South Island we even get snow. That’s why it’s surprising that three New Zealanders have managed to start growing vanilla here.

Non-tropical vanilla

John Ross, his daughter Jennifer and her husband Garth Boggiss first started growing vanilla in Tonga as an aid project designed to give locals a new means of income. It was successful. Part of the success was because a greenhouse in Tauranga, in the North Island of New Zealand, was able to be used to cultivate the plants.

Because of the amount of volcanic activity here in New Zealand, the greenhouse could be heated through geothermal power. With this in mind the entrepreneurs thought why not try to actually grow the vanilla to full size, harvestable plants here. Luckily for New Zealand, the plan worked and we now have the first vanilla in the world that was grown outside of the tropics.

Technically, you could call it volcanic vanilla!

To find out more about the project, visit the website at Heilala Vanilla. They even have a video and some delicious looking recipes.

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About the author

Marie lives in Auckland, New Zealand but was born in the United States and is a dual-national. She has lived in five countries altogether but sees New Zealand as her real home base. She loves travel, and living in multi-cultural Auckland is the next best thing to being out there.