Catherine and James are Whangarei locals living on a lifestyle block at the beautiful Whangarei Heads.
Catherine worked in HR and James in engineering, but being nature-lovers and cheese obsessives, they decided to follow their passion and dive into cheesemaking. It started with Catherine doing a cheese course (we are pleased she rejected artisan chocolate!) and beginning to experiment, but quickly turned into a small business with big intentions.
They marked their twin interests by naming their cheese company after the green geckos you’ll find on the kanuka and manuka on their property. They are charming and beautiful creatures and it’s a charming name for their beautiful cheeses.
Theirs is a classic artisan story. They only use top quality, export-standard, certified organic milk from a single local herd of Ayrshire cows. They collect the milk early each morning as the cows are being milked, and start pasteurising it within an hour. They batch pasteurise, meaning maximum goodness is retained, and use non-animal rennet. The cheese is all made by hand and aged on site.
They mostly use cows’ milk. They are keen to use more organic sheep, goat and buffalo milk to broaden their range still further, but reliable supply is challenging. We’re sure this will be sorted as ever more Kiwis join the cheese movement!
Their range of cheeses has grown over the years, as has their collection of awards, including from the prestigious International Cheese Awards in Nantwich, England. They have a mischievous side too – it must be that grinning gecko – with cheeses like Hatea Ma, which is a white Red Leicester style.
The sense of whānau is also typical of committed artisans. They work to guidelines they have set to give the wairua of Grinning Gecko, being firmed anchored in Northland but providing cheese across Aotearoa and overseas.