When somebody say’s “Mate, I’ve just found the best burger”, you instantly think it’s either in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, or even Hamilton. You would never once believe that a burger so good could be hidden away from the masses in rural Manawatu. Well, I’m here to tell you that you’ve thought wrong your whole life – because possibly the tastiest burger joint I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting is nestled right in the middle of Ohakune, or, as many Kiwis know it, the place with the giant carrot – The Blind Finch.
After tackling one of New Zealand’s great walks, The Tongariro Crossing, I was seriously hungry. 6 hours or pure uphill/downhill walking in multiple weather conditions really takes it out of you. Luckily, The Blind Finch was just a stone’s throw away from our lodge in Ohakune – and you know when you’re starving, nothing fills you up better than a beastly burger. So, with our minds set on the meal ahead, we scooted out to Ohakune and arrived at this cute little cabin-like establishment that was absolutely humming with happy customers. When you walk inside, the sight is truly spectacular. The seats, floors and bar could’ve been taken right from a 50’s diner, however the walls are scattered old school kiwi memorabilia. But the cherry on the cake is the massive burger wall-to-wall custom burger grill they’ve got blasting in the kitchen, with as many dine-ins and takeaways these guys get, they definitely use every corner of it.
Now we’ve introduced you to the place, let’s introduce you to the burgers. Because we were absolutely starved, we ordered 2 of their large burgers and a colossal bowl of chips, which after chowing down on, I had absolutely no regrets about. Our chips were larger than life, and were absolutely smothered in rich kewpie mayo, sweet teriyaki and crunchy bonito flakes – not one chip was left un-sauced. Then we have the burgers – two toppling towers of truly tasty stuff. One was the Bombay Express, with a tandoori spiced dahl patty paired with fresh lettuce, tomato, coriander, raita and a sweet mango chutney – and then the other was the Casablanca, a Moroccan themed beast, with a fat falafel patty sandwiched between fresh salads, creamy harissa mayo, apricot tagine and fresh mint yoghurt. Which one I liked the best? I seriously couldn’t tell you – both burgers blew my mind with their unconventional vegetarian flavours and ingredients – and they really put standard mushroom burgers to shame.
So, how does a burger hub so good end up out here? Two reasons – ski season and walking season. Ohakune is right next to New Zealand’s Tongariro national park, whose Tongariro crossing walk becomes more popular than the beaches over summer. Then we have Mount Ruapehu which sits right next to the Tongariro Crossing, a well-known hotspot for skiers and snowboarders from all corners of New Zealand. So, you could say they have a pretty big fanbase all year round, which is the key to their success – along with their drool-worthy burgers. If you find yourself shredding down Ruapehu or hiking the hills of Tongariro, make sure you end your day with the biggest feed at The Blind Finch.
See The Blind Finch’s menu here.