Not Just Fish & Chips: An Intro to New Zealand Cuisine

When you think of New Zealand, you think of adventures! But how about gourmet cuisine and wild foods? It's time to take your tastebuds on an adventure...

Did you know that much of New Zealand cuisine has been influenced by the British?  Think meat pies, fish and chips, tea and beer.

However, New Zealand has its own spin on these traditional meals, using more lamb, fish and venison. With an extensive coastline, the landscape creates a wonderful environment for deer, as well as the 30 sheep per person that make up New Zealand - making it much easier and more useful to cook using these meats, rather than beef.  You’ll also notice that fresh fish is a major staple in the Kiwi diet, as well as crustaceans like crawfish and mollusks like mussel.

New Zealand has also been heavily exposed to Polynesian, Maori and Asian influences, lending itself to a fusion style of cooking.  A delicious example of the Maori influence is the popularity of hangi, which is a Maori meal consisting of meat and vegetables cooked in an underground oven.  This fusion style of cooking has more emphasis on New Zealand produce, such as kumara (a sweet potato) and feijoa (a fruit).  There are also loads of Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Malay and other Asian influences found throughout the country.

Kiwi gourmet cuisine is on par with the rest of the world; gourmet-cooking TV shows and foreign influences have popularised modern cuisine, focusing on fresh and local ingredients.  Delicious, high-end restaurants are plentiful in major cities and some small towns.  You’ll also find that cafes are extremely popular, providing an inexpensive alternative to traditional heavy pub food.  If you get the chance, check out a farmer’s market - here you’ll find wonderful local growers and makers with cheeses and olive oils to die for.  If you’re travelling the South Island in March and can make it over to the West Coast, check out Hokitika’s Wild Foods Festival.  This annual festival celebrates exactly the wildest of foods.  Be adventurous and tantalis  e your taste buds by trying some grubs, fish eyes, or gumboot milkshakes.

You can’t forget about the amazing wine New Zealand wine industry.  This award-wining industry offers a variety of wonderful wines, including sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs. With four major wine areas in New Zealand, you’re sure to find some great wine tours and tastings. 

Here are some fun facts about Kiwi cuisine:

-They call dinner ‘Tea,” and they aren’t referring to mid-afternoon teatime.  It’s actually the full evening meal.

-Hamburgers usually have beetroot on them, and often fired eggs as well.

-A black coffee is called a “long black.”

-Coffee with milk is called a “flat white.”  The milk is beaten, giving it a frothy latte or cappuccino quality.  Delicious!

- Barbecue is as popular in New Zealand as it is in Australia.

- The national dessert is the Pavlova; similar to a meringue this dish is best served with fresh fruit and cream.

- Another popular desert is Hokey Pokey ice cream.  This vanilla ice cream is full of honeycomb toffee chunks.  Yum!

- They call cotton candy “fairy floss.”

Are you ready to take your taste buds on an adventure?  Check out some of our sample itineraries here, or give us a call at 312-951-8517 and speak to a Down Under Endeavours travel expert.

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