Species of truffle in New Zealand

New Zealand is a world leader in the introduction and production of some of the world’s most sought after truffle species. The first Perigord black truffle to be harvested in the southern hemisphere was produced in Gisborne in 1993. A thriving industry now produces commercial quantities of extremely high quality:

  • Perigord black truffle (Tuber melanosporum)
  • Burgundy truffle (Tuber aestivum syn uncinatum)
  • Bianchetto truffle (Tuber borchii)
  • Winter black truffle (Tuber brumale)

Although the extremely expensive Italian white truffle, Tuber magnatum, has never been produced in truffle plantations, keen growers continue to experiment to see if they can add this delicious truffle to their harvests.

The most common host trees for truffles in New Zealand are English and evergreen oaks, hazels, and some species of pine.

Truffles are grown throughout New Zealand except for the sub-tropical far North and very wet West Coast of the South Island. Truffières (truffle orchards) have been planted from Whangarei to Southland, but there are larger clusters of growers in the Canterbury and Bay of Plenty regions. Bianchetto and Burgundy truffles can tolerate cooler climates than the Perigord black truffle, which prefers plenty of sun and warmth.  However, good production of truffles has been found in truffières throughout New Zealand.

A survey carried out by the Association in 2012 identified that 90% of New Zealand’s truffières have been planted for Perigord black truffle production.  A further 23% of truffières are planted in bianchetto.  These varieties are grown on hazel (Corylus avellana), English or common oak (Quercus robur), evergreen oak (Quercus ilex). The Italian stone pine, Pinus pinea and the Monterey pine, Pinus radiata, are also used for bianchetto production.

There are also couple of experimental plots with trees inoculated with Tuber magnatum in New Zealand.  These elusive truffles are still resisting attempts to cultivate them outside naturally occurring areas.