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A taste of Bavaria in Wairarapa

Sebastian Nebel

Sebastian Nebel makes sausages out the back of a Wairarapa farm.

Beneath the towering Tararuas, on a 44-hectare farm, a weathered shipping container has found new life as a small butchery. Here, 25-year-old Sebastian Nebel handmakes hundreds of sausages and Bavarian-inspired smallgoods to sell each week at farmers’ markets across Wellington and the Wairarapa.

Becoming a butcher was a natural step for Nebel, who grew up eating home kill from his family’s beef and sheep farm near Carterton, and loved hunting at the weekend with his mates.

His parents hail from Bavaria, in Germany’s southeast, and when Nebel left school, he headed for Wartenberg (near Munich) to trace his heritage. He quickly got an apprenticeship there in a family-owned butchery, learning the craft from some of the best butchers in the region. “They’ve passed these recipes down over generations,” he says. “They’ve been following these techniques for 300 years.”

Once qualified, he returned home with his German partner, Lena Donandt, and an ancient Bavarian recipe book his employer gave him as a parting gift. Keen to blend authentic Bavarian recipes with Kiwi meats, he launched BavariaNZ, and carted this shipping container onto the family farm, where the couple now live (Nebel’s mother takes care of the farm, while his father works in IT).

Aided by Donandt, Nebel spends his days making mānuka-smoked ham, a Bavarian meatloaf called leberkäse, and fennel, pork, cheese, chilli and curry sausages in traditional southeast German style, where the banger – especially the curry sausage – is as iconic as the Kiwi pie. “There are laws on how to produce sausages in Bavaria; they don’t experiment with flavours like we do here.’’

Nebel uses free-range beef and pork, and everything he makes is totally natural: meat, herbs and spices, water and natural casings are the only ingredients you will find in his shipping container. A finalist in the 2018 New Zealand Artisan Awards, he’s now working on producing a German-inspired salami.

This article was first published in the January 2019 issue of North & South.

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