Meet the little site in Taranaki behind New Zealand’s favourite cheese


A touch of fierce but friendly competition heated up yesterday, as cheesemakers from across the country eagerly awaited the results of the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards. 

More than 250 cheeses were judged by a panel of expert judges, and our Kāpiti and Mainland cheeses were some of the favorites – taking home an impressive 39 medals.

The secret weapon to the Co-op’s success? Our small but mighty team of six trained cheesemakers (and two trainees) at our site in Eltham, Taranaki.  

Kāpiti Artisan Cheese being flipped by hand

Our Fonterra Brands New Zealand (FBNZ) site on Bridge Street has been in the Eltham community making cheese for over a century – including beloved Kiwi brands like Kāpiti and Mainland. 

The cheese which comes from Bridge Street is special because it is made by hand.

In open cheese vats, our cheesemakers add ingredients, set the milk into a curd, cut the curd (with wire cutters), add the curds into the cheese hoops, and turn and salt it – all by hand. 

All except one of the gold winning Kāpiti specialty cheeses are made at our site on Bridge Street. 

This includes Kāpiti Bridge Street Blue and Ash Brie, which are both from the new Kapiti Artisan range cheeses – recently created by our Master Cheesemaker Cathy Lang

“We are so thrilled that our very new cheese range were medal winners the first time they were entered in the awards,” says Cathy.

Last year, Cathy won the title of NZ Champion Cheese maker at the awards, and has since been invited to judge at this year’s International Cheese & Dairy Awards held in the UK in June.

A small vat is used for Kāpiti Artisan Cheese

Blue cheese ages in cool, damp maturation rooms for four to eight weeks

Cathy says a huge amount of work goes into preparing for these awards, so she is very proud to see the team at Bridge Street recognized for their efforts. 

“The team first work out what cheeses will be entered and start the planning process months ahead – so it’s at perfect maturity in time for the judging” she says.

See our full list of gold winning cheeses below: 

And a special shoutout to our foodservice business Anchor Food Professionals and our ingredients brand NZMP, who received Gold awards for the following products:

  • Anchor Food Professionals Traditional Cream Cheese
  • Anchor Food Professionals EasyMix Cream Cheese
  • NZMP Traditional Cream Cheese             
  • NZMP High Solids Cream Cheese             
  • NZMP Special Reserve Cheddar Bulk or large block cheddar
  • NZMP Epicure Bulk or large block cheddar
  • NZMP Brine Salt Gouda  Dutch Style Cheese