This Gisborne orchard’s award-winning orange juice is summer in a bottle


Squeezy does it for this family-owned Gisborne orchard, who took home the 2022 Drink Champion award for their orange juice.

Cath Carter reckons the vibrant valencia orange juice she and her husband Matt produce is the authentic taste of Gisborne in summer. The former vineyard manager says she thinks of Hill Road Orange Juice like wine, deserving respect for its multi-layered flavour and seasonal variations.

Judges agreed, naming Hill Road Orchard this year’s Drink Champion and awarding it a gold medal. The unpasteurized, pulp-free juice, which judges described as “fantastic egg yolk orange”, is squeezed from valencia or navel oranges grown within a stone’s throw of the juice “factory”.

The Carters launched their Hill Road Fresh Orange Juice in 2011, a year after they purchased a seven-hectare orchard in Ormond. Making juice was a side-hustle while they pursued day jobs (Cath was in the wine industry, Matt in horticulture).

The juice is a hyper-local, hyper-fresh product in more ways than one. Once picked, Hill Road’s oranges travel no more than 300 metres to the juice room, where they’re cleaned, chilled and juiced. The lack of additives means the juice has a short shelf-life, and as such, it’s only available in the Gisborne region.

The Carters are no strangers to accolades in these awards — they were awarded a gold medal for their orange juice (and named Drink Champion) in 2018, followed by a gold medal for the juice in 2021 and a silver medal for their finger limes. They received a gold medal for the finger limes this year. “We love our weird citrus and being part of Gisborne’s food culture,” Cath says. “We’re never going to get any bigger than what we can grow and control ourselves.”

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About the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

The winners of the sixth Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards make some of the most delicious food and drink Aotearoa has ever tasted. Salute the medallists and winners and show your support by buying their gourmet treats.

CATEGORY CHAMPIONS

Supreme Champion: Pure Pāua, Chatham Island Food Co, Chatham Islands
Giesen Paddock Co-Champion: Organic Free-Range Marinated Butterfly Chicken, Bostock Brothers Organic Free-Range Chicken, Hawke’s Bay
Giesen Paddock Co-Champion
: Lamb Short Ribs, Middlehurst Delivered, Upper Awatere Valley
Emerson’s Dairy Champion: Marinated Cloud Fresh Goat Cheese in Oil, Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese, Te Hauke
Seafood New Zealand Water Champion: Pure Pāua, Chatham Island Food Co, Chatham Islands
Farro Earth Champion: Uncut Raw Comb Honey of Aotearoa, J. Friend & Co, Christchurch
Label & Litho Drink Champion: Hill Road Orange Juice, Hill Road Orchard, Gisborne

Find the full list of winners here, and medallists here.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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