Fresh, diverse and delicious, Kiwis love their food. While you’re in New Zealand, seek out a couple of the following quintessential Kiwi foods.
With more than 14,000 kilometres of coastline, New Zealand is home to some amazing seafood. From green-lipped mussels to oysters, you'll be in seafood heaven.
One of the most famous seafood spots is Kaikoura. In Maori, the word ‘Kai’ means food and ‘Koura’ means crayfish – so it’s not hard to guess what Kaikoura is famous for!
Feast on fresh crayfish from one of the many ‘Seafood Caravans’ that dot the highways surrounding Kaikoura. The most famous is Nin’s Bin, run by a local family who have been selling crayfish here since 1977. Located 20 minutes North of Kaikoura township Nin’s Bin is a favourite with the locals. Sitting on the beach devouring crayfish cooked with garlic and butter and looking out to the Pacific Ocean is a special kind of kiwi bliss.
Make sure you take note of which types of seafood are sustainable, though. For example, Queen scallops, commercially caught snapper, and whitebait are all fished unsustainably, despite being common menu items. Check out the Forest and Bird Best Fish Guide(opens in new window) for more information.
Succulent and tender, roast lamb is a Kiwi favourite. New Zealand lamb is held in high esteem throughout the world and is one of the country’s top export meats. Best enjoyed flavoured with rosemary and plenty of seasonal veggies, roast lamb is a meal that is sure to impress. You'll find it on the menu 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 hangi include chicken, pork and mutton, as well as various vegetables. 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 pools. You might also get to savour a delicious hāngī-steamed pudding for dessert.
Best enjoyed while sitting on a New Zealand beach on a balmy summer evening, fish and chips is a Kiwi favourite. Consisting of battered and deep fried fish, along with a generous serving of hot chips, you can find fish and chips in almost every town in New Zealand.
As with other types of seafood, make sure you choose sustainable options. Tarakihi, snapper and hoki are some of the most common types of fish used in this dish, but they are all unsustainably fished.
Other options, such as kahawai, trevally, or blue mackerel, are all better and more sustainable choices.
If you’re after award-winning wines and cheeses, look no further than New Zealand. We’ve got several world-class cheese making companies, famous for blue cheese, delicious vintages and creamy soft cheeses. Kapiti, Whitestone and Puhoi Valley are some of the top brands to look out for. In terms of wine, New Zealand punches above its weight. Enjoy full-bodied pinot noir, light and fruity sauvignon blanc and mouth-filling merlot.
Call it a ‘barbie’, barbeque, barbecue or BBQ – the act of cooking outside is an essential slice of the New Zealand culture and culinary experience.
The great Kiwi barbie most often happens at home in the backyard, but keeping the heat out of the kitchen appeals so much in summer that most houses are usually equipped with the vital accessory.
Kiwis are passionate about good ice cream - hokey pokey (creamy vanilla ice cream with pieces of honeycomb) anyone? New Zealanders also love their pavlova. A meringue-based dessert that’s topped with cream and fresh fruit, pavlova is a permanent fixture at the Christmas table. For something a bit healthier, you can’t go past the delicious kiwifruit – small and furry and green on the inside, it's best eaten by scooping the sweet, juicy flesh out of the middle.
For those with a sweet tooth, the indigenous chocolate fish has been a long-time favourite. The chocolate-coated marshmallow fish comes individually wrapped.
The Pineapple Lump is another favourite New Zealand treat. A square pineapple candy coated in chocolate, the Pineapple Lump has been on sale since 1935.
The Jaffa, a hard-coated orange flavoured candy with a chocolate centre, is a must for every Kiwi lolly jar. We even celebrate this unique Kiwi treat each year when thousands of Jaffas are raced down Dunedin's Baldwin St, the steepest street in the world, as part of the annual Cadbury Chocolate Carnival.