Foodie Delight (Kiwi edition): New Zealand Food Everyone Needs to Try

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Since New Zealand is quite a remote country, not many people mention its food. We have all heard of Italian, Mexican, and Chinese cuisine, but how often do you hear people talking about New Zealand food? The truth is that it is an overlooked cuisine, even though it includes amazing dishes and heavenly delicacies. And the fact that it does not really reach overseas is a great loss for many foodies out there. 

To ensure that you do not miss out on anything exceptional, we have prepared a quick guide on the most glorious New Zealand foods. It is a list of delightful traditional foods that will steal your heart. Moreover, they will be your ultimate chance to experience New Zealand food culture most uniquely.   

Astounding Seafood

New Zealand seafood is one thing you cannot miss out on when you reach the country. Due to its magnificent coastlines, it can offer delightful dishes with fresh sea produce. Those who love seafood delicacies will fall in love with what New Zealand seafood has to offer. The local cuisine is proud of its special dishes, including salmon, crayfish, whitebait, paua, and bluff oysters.

oyster, shellfish, bluff, new zealand

If you are a fan of this kind of food, then looking for places that offer the best is a must. New Zealand cuisine has different features in various parts of the country, and when it comes to seafood delicacies, the small town of Kaikōura is the main one you are looking for. This amazing small place situated on the northern, east coast of the South Island, offers the most incredible food New Zealand can give. Moreover, it comes with a gorgeous sight of lined seafood caravans that prepare the tastiest seafood you have ever tasted. One of the most popular places in this area where the crayfish tastes heavenly is Nins Bin – a family-operated business established in 1977.

However, in other parts of New Zealand, you will also find some extraordinary specialities. For instance, Marlborough is known as the best place for delightful creamy green-lipped mussels, while Mount Cook is the best spot to savour king salmon.

Seafood Restaurants

Now you’re craving fresh seafood? Try some of these:

salmon, fish, seafood

Whatever you decide to try from the vast choice of New Zealand foods, ensure you do not miss your opportunity to try the seafood. There is a reason why Kiwis are crazy about these dishes, so make this your priority. Plus, there are many seafood festivals you may enjoy, so you can really make the most of your experience.

Aotearoa New Zealands Seafood Festivals


New Zealand Lamb 

Another thing that Kiwis enjoy is meat, specifically roast lamb. In fact, roast lamb is among New Zealand’s favourite foods. It is a world-famous dish, but New Zealanders prepare it in their own authentic way, hence the popularity around it.

Sheep farming is one of the most popular industries in the land of the Kiwis, so it is no surprise that lamb is among the most common dishes. Nonetheless, lamb is prepared in many different ways, so you will be able to find different variations of this kind of meat. If you are determined to have the ultimate experience of traditional New Zealand food, then choose rosemary-flavoured roast lamb combined with roasted vegetables or, in some cases, sweet potato chips. If you match it with a fine New Zealand wine, it can make the perfect dinner to remember.   

leg of lamb, new zealand

Manuka Honey

If you want to try something unique from the Kiwi cuisine, then you should put Manuka Honey on your list. Even though it is a type of honey, Manuka Honey is entirely different from the honey you are accustomed to eating. It is probably one of the most interesting delights in New Zealand food and something you will not find elsewhere in the world. 

Manuka Honey does not only differ in taste but also in look and smell as well. It is made of bees that pollinate the well-known Manuka tree found in the country. The strong aroma and the earthy flavours are traits that make it an authentic delicacy that must be tasted. 

You can find Manuka Honey all around New Zealand since there are many dedicated honey shops. However, make sure you eat it raw. This is a way to preserve its aroma and taste its ultimate flavourful tones. 

    manuka honey, jars, harvest

    Manuka Honey Health Benefits

    This stuff is so good it is even turned into all sorts of cosmetic and medicinal products, such as wound dressings, lip balms, face cream, and throat lozenges! Manuka has in fact been used for centuries for wound healing – it’s no wives’ tale.

    Manuka honey is:

    • Antibacterial

    • Full of antioxidants

    • Has anti-inflammatory properties

    Fish and Chips 

    Even though it is a well-known fact that fish and chips is a dish of British origin, New Zealanders claim that this is their traditional New Zealand delicacy. It has been their signature dish for decades, and its flavours are quite different from those present in British cuisine.  

    While the British typically opt for cod, haddock, or plaice when preparing the fish component of a dish, New Zealanders go for using tarahiki, hoki, red cod, blue warehou, or elephant fish. It is readily available in nearly every town across New Zealand. Moreover, this popular take-away meal is commonly served with fresh white bread and tomato sauce. 

    fish and chips, french fries, tartar

    Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

    In New Zealand, “hokey pokey” is the local term for honeycomb toffee and is particularly associated with a distinctive flavour of Kiwi ice cream. This sweet delight features creamy vanilla ice cream infused with small, solid nuggets of toffee.

    It belongs in the group of traditional New Zealand food, and it is absolutely a must-try treat. Hokey pokey ice cream is one of the most commonly sold flavours, meaning you should give it a go when visiting. If you want to experience the aromas of homemade hokey pokey ice cream, then you should definitely go to Giapo. This ice cream shop in Auckland is known as one of the best in New Zealand, with world-famous experience in creating delightful sweet treats.


    When it comes to desserts, genuine sweet tooth lovers should try Pavlova as well. Kiwis love this amazing dessert with fresh fruit and whipped cream, especially for Christmas. It is the signature sweet food for the holidays, meaning you should not miss out on the chance to see why they love it so much. 

    Even if you are trying to avoid sweets and whipped cream, you should make an exception for this meringue-based dessert. Corelli’s Cafe is one of the best places in Auckland for this delicacy, so it would be worth it to give it a go. Plus, you can combine it with coffee and enjoy a delicious snack in one of New Zealand’s greatest coffee shops.

      mixed berries, pavlova, pie


      The Māori hāngī represents a traditional method of cooking using an earth oven. While now typically reserved for special events, the hāngī involves preparing a variety of foods such as chicken, pork, mutton, pumpkin, potato, and kumara (sweet potato). These are usually combined with different ingredients and additives, such as vegetables or tomato sauce.  

      Maori Villages in Rotorua, situated on the central North Island, are known as prime locations to enjoy this cultural culinary experience. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to taste dishes steam-cooked in naturally heated geothermal pools and perhaps conclude the meal with a delectable hāngī-steamed pudding for dessert.

        Hangi, Maori, new zealand food

        New Zealand Wine and Other Drinks

        New Zealand has a lot to offer when it comes to wine since it is home to a diverse variety of extraordinary wine types. You can enjoy the heavenly notes of pinot noir, savour the light and fruity tones of sauvignon blanc, or relish the peppery features of the New Zealand Syrah. Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, and Central Otago are places where you can taste fantastic kinds of wine and even experience the glorious food feasts that New Zealand has. Savouring wine in this remote land completely differs from everything you have experienced before.   

        Best wineries in New Zealand

        There are so many, however here is snap shot of some of the best wineries in New Zealand – you can’t go wrong.

          vineyard, new zealand, grapes

          However, the country’s craft beer breweries are gaining widespread popularity, and cidery’s are also making their mark. So, if you are not really into wine, then you can taste something different and let yourself be amazed.

          Best Craft Beer Breweries in New Zealand


          Other New Zealand Drinks to Try

          Lemon & Paeroa (commonly known as L&P), a non-alcoholic soft drink crafted from lemon and carbonated water since its inception in 1907, has its origins in the town of Paeroa, situated in the North Island. You can explore the beverage landscape further with feijoa juices, health-focused kombucha creations, and a variety of other fruit drinks available in store fridges throughout the country. In short, even if you are not a wine and craft beer fan, you can undoubtedly find something you will like.

          winery, new zealand, mercury bay

          Meat Pies

          When it comes to traditional meals in New Zealand cuisine, you should not ignore the meat pies. The introduction of meat pies to the country traces back to the British, who adopted this culinary delight from the ancient Romans and continued to enjoy it over the years. 

          Simply put, the true essence of the Kiwi pie lies in its practicality — a convenient, handheld snack perfect to eat on the go. However, New Zealanders added their own features to these pies by crafting signature fillings, including classics such as steak and cheese or mince and vegetables. By embracing inspiration from diverse cuisines, Kiwis have elevated the meat pie game with innovative fillings like Thai green curry or Indian butter chicken.

          The popularity and creativity of this dish have grown as far as special awards being dedicated to it each year! That said, this year’s winner meat pie, prepared by Tauranga baker Patrick Lam, was made with roast duck, onions and mushrooms.

          meat pie, puff paste, flaky pastry

          Things You Can Try from a Store or Cafe

          While the best way to enjoy a national dish is by visiting New Zealand restaurants, some things you can buy in local stores or cafes around the country. This can be your chance to try something that you do not have at home but also purchase some foods to take back home and allow friends and family to enjoy something special directly from New Zealand.

          There are amazing stores both on the South Island and North Island. You should look for:

          • Pineapple lumps

          • New Zealand Marmite Spread

          • L&P (fizzy drink)

          • Whittakers Chocolate

          • Lolly cake

          • Cheese roll (you’ll on find these heavenly little heartwarmers in the bottom of the South Island, cheese rolls are also known as Southern Sushi!)

          The Ultimate New Zealand Cooking Experience

          Kiwis enjoy the experience of great quality cuisine, so when you get there, do not be surprised by the abundance of restaurants and lounge bars that offer traditional New Zealand dishes. There are unique places to eat authentic meals, and taste some incredible flavours. 

          If you want to be ready and avoid searching for the best restaurants when you are already there, we have some great suggestions. For instance,

          New Zealand Cooking Schools

          New Zealand Cooking Schools are the perfect chance to experience the traditional cooking methods of this glorious remote country and match it with some exceptional New Zealand wines. Get a taste for Aotearoa New Zealand foods with these cooking schools:

            • Akaroa Cooking School – Inspired by local produce and seafood delicacies, this cooking school can show you how Kiwis cook the worlds cuisine

            • Homeland Cooking SchoolWhat’s guaranteed, no matter what group, is an afternoon or evening of fun, laughs and great kai.”

            • Farmhouse Kitchen – “Our wide variety of classes offer something for everyone, from beginner to experienced cooks, using quality, seasonal local Hawke’s Bay produce, and from our own gardens.”

          Foodie Inspo Delight

          We hope your little foodie hearts are happy and inspired, and tummy’s rumbling after this epic guide of Aotearoa New Zealands unmissable and beautiful food scene. Food helps us to catch a glimpse of the culture of a land, and this list definitely highlights the quality cuisine, yet casual atmosphere of New Zealand. We hope you love it as much as we do!

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