Food culture in New Zealand has evolved since the 1900s, and today, the land of the Kiwis offers a delectable cuisine that you would enjoy. So you’ve got your itinerary ready to travel to New Zealand, but you know nothing about the local cuisine. No need to worry, Kiwis are polite and don’t mind answering questions like, “What food is New Zealand famous for?“
However, if you’re a little shy or you prefer to be prepared and ask for food that you’ve read about, read on. Consider this article your go-to guide on the top New Zealand foods you should discover.
Before we get down to any of the real food, it’s best to get the sweet tooth out of the way.
Named after Anna Pavlova, a Russian prima ballerina who visited New Zealand in 1926, this delicious dessert is the source of many Aussie-Kiwi rivalries as both nations stake their claim on the origins of this dish (we stand with you, Kiwis).
This dessert is meringue-based and looks like a cake. It usually has some whipped cream on its flat top and is served with sliced kiwi fruit or berries.
For all the meat lovers, this traditional Maori dish has got your back.
Meat and vegetables sizzled in an underground cooker and slow-cooked.
It takes a whole day to prepare and was a standard method of cooking for the Maori for years.
3. Whitebait Fritters
The question on most travelers’ lips, “Is the food in New Zealand expensive” can be answered by this delicacy. You can find this seasonal dish on roadside stalls served with a refreshing slice of lemno. Whitebait are freshwater fish juveniles found in rivers and streams.
Kiwis have varying opinions on how to fry this dish, but the essential ingredients are salt, pepper, and egg whites.
4. Hokey Pokey
Tasted a crunchie bar before? Then you know what we’re talking about because Hockey Pockey is the main ingredient. A favorite of the kiwis, the best way to eat this honeycomb toffee is in ice cream.
One of the best things to do as you travel through New Zealand is to relieve your childhood summers as you relish this treat.
5. Huhu Grubs
Whether you eat Huhu beetle larvae raw or cooked, this is not a dish for the faint-hearted traveler. Some kiwis say it tastes like peanut butter, and some say it’s just like chicken.
Hubu grabs can be enjoyed at the annual New Zealand celebration of unusual foods.
6. Fish and Chips
Enjoy common fish options such as terahiki, kohi, and snapper at a beachside picnic.
If you’d like to try more seafood options with your chips, ask your vendor for oysters, scallops, mussels, or squid rings.
7. Cheese and Wine
Don’t be fooled by the exotic snacks on roadside stalls. New Zealanders love cheese and wine too.
If you travel to Whitestone, Puhoi Valley, or Kapiti you will be able to savor excellent merlot options, sauvignon, or pinot noir
New Zealand is known worldwide for its lamb industry.
Served with steamed vegetables on the side and flavored with rosemary, New Zealand lamb is a tasty option, whether grilled or roasted. You’re likely to find lamb on the menu in most restaurants.
New Zealanders go all out when making their pies, and you should try out as many options as you can during your stay.
Some places serve vegan and vegetarian options, but if you’d like to try more traditional flavors, you can try out cheese, steak, or mince.
There’s a lot of seafood in New Zealand, and Tuatua is a popular one. This shellfish is tasty and presented in restaurants mainly as fritters o chowder. Compared to other types of shellfish, Tuatua is soft, and eating it is a long Maori tradition.
11. Green-Lipped Mus
The abundance of seafood in New Zealand dictates that you should try as much as you can.
These shellfish are native to New Zealand even though you can find them in other parts of the world. They’re freshly cooked and served as chowder in many restaurants
You would know this dish as sweet potatoes. Although traditionally served in a Hangi, Kiwis love them as snacks such as chips, wedges or croquettes.
Feijoa is a common egg-shaped fruit that’s also known as ‘gauvasteen’ or pineapple guava.
It has a tasty, juicy flesh, and a tantalizing aroma.
New Zealanders like to eat it raw even though it’s stewed with sugar during the winter months.
You’ll find it in most local fruit stalls and supermarkets.
14. Kiwi Fruit
You can’t travel to New Zealand and not taste their national fruit. I mean, if the question on your mind is, “what is New Zealand’s national dish,” this fruit should be at the top of the list.
New Zealand is the world’s biggest exporter of Kiwi fruit, and the fruit can be used as a meat tenderizer or topping for Pavlova. It’s an excellent source of vitamins K and C.
15. Spaghetti on Toast
Before you go on a rant about how spaghetti originates from Italy, hear me out. Putting a twist on a dish gives you some bragging rights.
Kiwis put a twist on the regular spaghetti by adding a piece of grilled toast and cheese. It’s a delicious breakfast meal that you can eat as a midday snack.
This meal is really unusual to find in any restaurant or lunch bar in New Zealand.
16. Manuka Honey
Taking a bottle of this warm honey back home with you will give you some nostalgic memories of your trip. New Zealand has an abundance of the manuka tree whose pollen is responsible for the distinct smell and heavy aroma.
Purchase authentic Manuka honey from a local farm and experience the pride of the locals: healing benefits.
You either love Marmite, or you hate it. Either way, you’ve got to try it to know which side you fall on. Yeast extract that’s mixed with different spices and herbs makes Marmite.
Kiwis love it on crackers or bread.
Don’t be fooled by the name. These crunchy chocolate cookies are originally from New Zealand.
The ingredients for making afghans include cornflakes, butter, sugar, and flour. Once baked, the texture-dense cookies are topped with some chopped walnuts and are best with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
19. Lolly Cake
If you’re touring New Zealand with your kids, they’d love this dessert.
It traditionally has ingredients such as sweetened condensed milk, melted butter, and crushed malt biscuits. However, recipes today use a lot of sweets, candies, and marshmallows.
20. Sausage Sizzle
Though named after a snack, the word sausage sizzle could mean two things in Kiwi land. A local fundraiser or a snack.
The dish has sausage drizzled in mustard or tomato, with some fried onions served on white bread.
21. Bluff Oysters
Seafood lovers will go crazy for these oysters. They aren’t cheap, though, and are found in a small town in New Zealand known as Bluff.
These Oysters are only available from March to August, and their taste is an intense fishy flavor.
Have them fried with a dash of pepper and salt or eat them raw with a splash of lemon.
For those who’ve never visited the land of the long white cloud, you may have heard that people who’ve traveled to New Zealand always have something to say about the blood-curdling “war dances” or the Haka, breathtaking natural scenery, and the vast sheep population.
If you’re planning to travel all around New Zealand, you’ll be glad to know that one of the ways through which you can connect with the local culture, as you might have guessed, is through food.
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Safe travels 🙂