Fresh, diverse and delicious, Kiwis love their food. While you’re in New Zealand, seek out a few of the following quintessential Kiwi foods and drinks.
With more than 14,000 kilometres of coastline, it's no wonder New Zealand is home to some of the best seafood in the world. Known for it's amazing crayfish, the small town of Kaikōura has ‘seafood caravans’ dotted along the coast. The most famous is Nin’s Bin(opens in new window), which is operated by a local family who have been selling crayfish there since 1977. Creamy green-lipped mussels can be found in Marlborough, especially in Havelock. And Mount Cook is known for delicious king salmon.
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Succulent and tender, roast lamb is a favourite for Kiwi's. New Zealand lamb(opens in new window) is held in high esteem throughout the world and is one of the country’s top export meats. Best enjoyed flavoured with rosemary and served alongside plenty of seasonal roasted vegetables, roast lamb is a meal that is sure to impress. You'll find it featured on the menus of our best restaurants nationwide.
The Māori hāngī is a traditional earth oven style of cooking. Now saved mainly for special occasions, foods cooked in a hāngī include chicken, pork and mutton, as well as pumpkin, potato and kumara (sweet potato). One of the best places to enjoy this cultural feast is Rotorua, in the central North Island, where you can also taste food that has been steam-cooked in naturally heated geothermal pools. You might also get to savour a delicious hāngī-steamed pudding for dessert.
Best enjoyed while sitting by the beach on a balmy summer evening, fish and chips(opens in new window) are a Kiwi favourite. Consisting of fresh fish, coated in a crispy batter then deep fried, along with a generous serving of hot chips. You can find fish and chips in almost every town in New Zealand. This take-away meal is usually accompanied by fresh white bread and tomato sauce. You'll find fish and chips on most restaurant menus too, usually served with seasonal salad.
In terms of wine, New Zealand punches above its weight. Enjoy full-bodied pinot noir, light and fruity sauvignon blanc and the deep, peppery flavours of a New Zealand syrah. Craft beer breweries are gaining popularity, as are cideries(opens in new window). Created in 1907, Lemon & Paeroa (better known as L&P) is a non-alcoholic soft drink made from lemon and carbonated water, the name stems from originally being created in the town of Paeroa. Feijoa juices, healthy kombucha creations(opens in new window) and other fruit drinks(opens in new window) can be found in shop fridges throughout the country.
Call it a ‘barbie’, barbeque, barbecue or BBQ – the act of cooking outside is an essential part of Kiwi culture. Lamb, beef, sausages and poultry are usually barbecued at home in the backyard during the summer months. Potato salad, garlic bread and fresh vegetable salads are also prepared. Then, family and friends come together to enjoy the the meal together outside on the deck. To experience a Kiwi BBQ in style, take the Earnslaw cruise to Walter Peak Gourmet BBQ in Queenstown.
Kiwis are passionate about good ice-cream, be sure to try hokey pokey(opens in new window) (creamy vanilla ice cream with tiny balls of crunchy honeycomb). New Zealanders also love pavlova. A meringue-based dessert that’s topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, pavlova is a permanent fixture at the Christmas table. For something a bit healthier, try some New Zealand stone fruit or a fruit salad featuring delicious kiwifruit, feijoas and passionfruit(opens in new window).
Ask any New Zealander what their favourite chocolate is and the answer will likely be, Whittakers chocolate(opens in new window). Individually wrapped, the Cookie Time Cookie(opens in new window) is a range of different sized biscuits with flavours such as triple chocolate, gingernut and macadamia and white chocolate. Pineapple Lumps and Jaffa's are other favourite New Zealand lollies (sweets or candy). Kiwi's celebrate the Jaffa each year when thousands of small Jaffas are raced down Dunedin's Baldwin St, rumored to be the steepest street in the world, as part of the annual Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival(opens in new window).
Traditionally, the only available pie flavour would have been mince. Today, pie flavours in New Zealand are only limited by the imagination of the baker. Always encrusted in a buttery flaky pastry and often served in a brown paper bag, it's easy to find a good pie in New Zealand. Be sure to try 'hāngī' in a pie' or a creamed pāua pie(opens in new window). Bacon and egg, steak and cheese and potato-top pies are Kiwi classics. However, salmon and bacon(opens in new window), butter chicken, bacon and egg, lamb and mint and venison pies are award-winners at the annual New Zealand pie awards(opens in new window).
New Zealand has several world-class cheese companies, and we have our striving dairy industry to thank. But, its not just cows milk used to make artisan cheese. Sheep and goat milk cheeses are also common. Famous for blue cheese, sharp vintages and creamy soft cheeses, Kāpiti Cheese(opens in new window), Whitestone(opens in new window) and Puhoi Valley(opens in new window) are New Zealand made favourites. There are many boutique cheese companies in New Zealand. Relax with cheese-tastings at The Cheese Barn(opens in new window) and the Gibbston Valley™ Cheesery & Deli.(opens in new window)