New Zealand is not a country world renowned for its foods. Unlike the likes of France with its delicious savoury treats and Asia with its authentic dishes packed with explosive tastes, New Zealand’s food is a little more casual…
It’s not that the food isn’t tasty, it certainly is, it’s just more the fact that people come to New Zealand for the adventure and the scenery rather than to try out all of the best dishes.
But, Kiwi food is certainly not food that should be overlooked. So let this guide that we have put together of the food you must try in New Zealand be an adventure for your taste buds. Gorge yourself on these tasty Kiwi treats and complete your Kiwi holiday!
If you’re a fan of carbonated drinks then you’re no doubt a fan of L&P. L&P is the nectar of New Zealand, the drink that Kiwis love to reach for out of the chiller at the local dairy. It’s been described as tasting of “good lemonish stuff” and in its heydey was made by combining lemon juice with carbonated mineral water. It’s hard to accurately describe the taste of L&P. It’s absolutely nothing like other ‘lemony’ type fizzy’s such as 7-Up or Sprite, or Schweppes Lemonade and then absolutely nothing like other flavours of soft drink. It’s really in a unique playing field and that is probably why Kiwis love it so much.
Onion Dip is an absolute must at any Kiwi social situation. BBQ’s, dinner parties, farewells, birthday parties, family get together, boys trips, wines with the girls and especially while watching a rugby game at home – Onion Dip is a compulsory staple item. Made by using Maggi Onion Dip, Nestle Reduced Cream and either a lemon or a few dollops of vinegar, this dish is best paired with Salt N Vinegar Chips. Chicken, Green Onion and Ready Salted are all suitable to eat with the Onion Dip too.
Mince Pies are a common lunchtime snack for many Kiwis, especially on cold winter days. While they are best saved for when in a hungover state, mince pies are the perfect food for when you’re craving a greasy snack. One of the best pies in the south is Jimmy’s Pies in Roxburgh. Jimmy Pies are an icon throughout Otago although you can find many other delicious pies brands around New Zealand. If you want to really delve into a good mince pie, try a mince and cheese pie. It’s a step up in flavour from the iconic mince.
New Zealand’s signature coffee, the flat white is a single or double shot of espresso topped with flat, foamy milk from the bottom of the steaming jug. Think latte, only smaller with a higher proportion of coffee than milk. If you’re a coffee connoisseur you will have a great time in New Zealand’s small, independent cafes. Kiwis love to support the little guy and funky, offbeat cafes are much more popular the Starbucks.
Pineapple lollies covered in delicious chocolate may not be the most appealing taste to the average joe, but once the lumps of pineapple touch your taste buds there’s no stopping you and you will devour the whole bag in one sitting. It’s a fact. For an even better twist on the Kiwi favourite, try freezing them overnight first.
If there is one Kiwi food that is world renowned, it would be New Zealand’s lamb. Lamb roast, lamb chops, leg of lamb, lamb shanks you name it and you will enjoy it. Succulent and tender, it is a standout 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.
Whittaker’s Peanut Slab
No one does chocolate quite like Whittaker’s. It’s an iconic, family brand that has been in NZ households for decades. While all of their chocolate is delicious, it’s the peanut slab that is a standout. Chunky peanuts are scattered generously throughout the thick slab of dairy milk chocolate. It is good for the soul but perhaps not so good on the teeth.
As New Zealand is, in fact, an island surrounded by water, this list would not be completed without some seafood. Paua is one of the delicacies from the ocean that surrounds the country. Paua meat is best served in paua patties, slapped between two bits of bread with a bit of butter and lemon squeezed in there too. You just can’t beat it.
Cheese rolls are a distinctive Southland treat. Made from a mix of onion soup mix, evaporated milk and a bunch of cheese (everyone’s recipes differ slightly) and slathered onto some white bread – this southern icon is a staple to every Southlanders winter diet and can be found at all good cafes in the Southland area.
Malt biscuits, condensed milk, butter and a packet of fruit puffs or Eskimos is all you need to complete this Kiwi sweet treat, often located in school lunchboxes. This treat can be enjoyed with a cup of tea and is discovered at most pot-luck lunches or casual gatherings.
Fish & Chips
It’s a crime if you visit New Zealand and don’t get some fish and chips from the local takeaway shop and eat it at the beach. This meal is super cheap – under $10 for a decent meal for 2 – and is perfect for a hungover feed or when you cannot be bothered cooking.
In the late summer months, feijoas are so readily-available in New Zealand that neighbours trade them by the buckets and people throughout the country figure out new and inventive ways to use the green fruit. No product has been left unfused everything from chocolate to crumbles, ice-cream to vodka with the feijoas distinctive, soapy-citrus flavour.
Kaikoura in the South Island has claimed to be the best place in New Zealand for crayfish, which is marked with the town’s giant crayfish sculpture. A good crayfish has a delicate, slightly sweet flavour, and a meaty, succulent texture similar to tiger prawns. Crayfish are probably the priciest item on this menu, but well worth it.
Head to the local Bunnings Warehouse, The Warehouse or a local rugby club and no doubt there will a BBQ cranking with a load of volunteers behind the hot plates turning some great NZ sausages. People flank the BBQ, armed with a slice of buttered bread, napkins tomato sauce and tongs to provide you with the option of added onions. At just a gold coin donation, this Kiwi snack is a delicious treat and a way of helping out the community.
Whitebait flows through the rivers of the West Coast, South Island. After catching the Whitebait in giant nets, chuck it in some batter and fry it up to make to die for Whitebait patties. Put some lemon and salt on it and for added value, put it in between two bits of bread for a Whitebait Pattie Sammie. Just try not to look into the eyes of the little fisheys as you bite into the goodness.
Hokey Pokey Ice Cream
Hokey Pokey is the best Kiwi summer treat, although you are not judged if you’re spotted eating one in winter. Years ago some smart Kiwi saw some vanilla ice cream and decided to spice it up by putting little balls of hokey pokey throughout it and since that pivotal moment in New Zealand history, a kiwi icon was born.
Like the cheese rolls, Southland really provides with it’s breathtaking, mouth watering Bluff oysters. No other oyster compares to the taste of these. They’re so good that they’ve earned their own festival that sells out every year. Large, plump and juicy one is never enough. Neither is half-a-dozen. Nor a dozen to be honest…
A traditional Māori way of cooking using heated rocks buried underground in a pit oven. Meat is paired with roast vegetables and cooked underground. The resulting food has a distinctly earthy, smoky flavour.
A lot better than Vegemite. Best served lightly on buttered toast or combined with cheese to make a sandwich. For those not raised eating Marmite, the first taste-test can be described as stomach-turning experience…
What iconic Kiwi foods have we left off of the list?