New Zealand Food: 37 foods from New Zealand to try!

Last Updated on November 8, 2023

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New Zealand is a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines.

But when someone asks me what New Zealand food is, it’s hard to differentiate between traditional Kiwi and a mixture of weird but delicious meals that Kiwis have invented.

So, what kind of food is New Zealand known for?

There is definitely a New Zealand food culture, but NZ food is hard to pin down. Authentic New Zealand food does exist, but your typical dinner in New Zealand varies from household to household.

However, with all the diversity in the food in New Zealand, you’ll most certainly find a dish you love!

After all, if you try enough traditional New Zealand recipes, you’re sure to fall in love with some of them!

There’s a mixture of Maori cuisine, delicious New Zealand seafood dishes, and lots of uniquely Kiwi meals.

We also have meals that are sometimes considered to be traditional in other places, such as fish and chips and one of our most beloved Kiwi desserts, Pavlova!

It’s time to find out what food is New Zealand famous for – here are 37 different New Zealand foods you must try on your trip to NZ.

From traditional Maori food to lots of bread-related ‘meals’, iconic New Zealand food snacks and delicious New Zealand desserts, here’s 37 of the best!

An Insight into New Zealand Food

Try some food you can only get in New Zealand today, two people lowering bags of Hangi into a prepared pit in the ground for cooking
This is one of the tastiest food from New Zealand! Photo credit @James Heremaia

1. Hangi

A mainstay of the traditional food of New Zealand, a Hangi is traditional Maori food that is cooked in the ground.

The meal itself contains meat and vegetables (usually potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots).

The food is placed in a hole in the ground which is then covered with rocks and a fire is started on top. This usually cooks for at least a few hours until the food practically can melt in your mouth.

If you only try one food in New Zealand, it should be the Hangi. However, you won’t find a Hangi cooked often so if you do have the opportunity to join one and try it out, make sure you do!

If you do a tour of New Zealand, they will usually include a Hangi during one of your stops, which is good because Hangi in New Zealand is delicious!

Try out your new favourite New Zealand typical dishes, brown paper containing fish and chips meal with battered fish and fried potatoes

2. Fish and Chips

When someone asks me, what is a typical New Zealand dinner I say fish and chips! This is definitely New Zealand national food.

I’m from a very small town in the north island and we have at least 4 fish and chip shops which is absurd (but amazing at the same time!). It’s some of the most popular food in New Zealand.

The fish is either battered or crumbed and then deep-fried and served with chips.

You can find many other deep-fried goodies at the shop including potato fritter, hotdog and deep-fried Moro bar! Fish and chips for a Kiwi is easy, affordable and delicious!

Many people think of Fish and Chips as being a traditional British meal, but it’s also a staple of New Zealand cuisine!

Discover delicious dishes from New Zealand, closeup of a New Zealand mince pie with flaky pastry crust on a blue and yellow patterned plate

3. Mince Pie

A classic NZ food item is a mince pie! The pastry is filled with mince, finely chopped vegetables and a thick meat sauce. A mince pie is available nearly everywhere, in bakeries, supermarkets and cafes.

Another popular flavour of pie is steak and cheese, but you can find other flavours including potatoes and mince, bacon and eggs, vegan pies and lots more!

These delicious items are a staple of New Zealand typical dishes. These meat pies in New Zealand are usually a favourite food for a quick lunch or even breakfast!

Enjoy New Zealand native food, plate containing crushed ice with oysters in their open shells set on wooden table in a restaurant

4. Seafood

New Zealand has world-class seafood! Because New Zealand is an island you will find many places serving fresh seafood.

Food culture in New Zealand has always been closely tied to seafood, and plenty of New Zealand traditional food dishes contain seafood in some form.

As New Zealand has some of the richest waters, we have some of the best tasting seafood in the world!

Some of the must-try seafood options are:

  • Crayfish
  • Bluff Oysters
  • Mussels
  • Whitebait
  • Salmon
  • Paua
  • Scallops

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5. Whitebait Fritters and Paua Fritters

Following on from New Zealand sea food, Paua and whitebait are commonly made into fritters. Along the coastline, you will find many people cooking them like this.

Squeeze some lemon and dip them in a bit of aioli, you have the perfect snack! These are a must eat in New Zealand!

6. Lamb

If you know any facts about New Zealand you’re likely aware that the country has an impressive ratio of sheep to person.

So, it’s no wonder that with a huge ratio of sheep that New Zealand also produces a lot of lambs! As such, there are plenty of lamb dishes from New Zealand.

New Zealand lamb is some of the most famous in the world. A common meal for Kiwis is a roast lamb. Cooked with some potatoes and vegetables this is very traditional New Zealand food for a Sunday.

7. Marmite

When I try and explain Marmite to foreigners, they look at me with disgust.

So please tell me the look on your face when I tell you that Marmite is a popular breakfast spread that’s made from yeast and is a thick black texture.

I can almost see your face as I write this because if I wasn’t from New Zealand and heard that I would be put off. But, trust me, it’s delicious!

The best way to experience this is to cook some toast, then spread the toast with butter (a lot), wait until it’s melted into the toast then apply a little Marmite.

Don’t apply as much as you would if you were having jam or something else. It’s a strong taste so it’s better with only a small spread (around 1 teaspoon).

Marmite is considered a weird New Zealand food by many tourists. Some enjoy it so much they consider it a national food of New Zealand, others think it’s horrible.

It’s certainly one of the more risky New Zealand breakfast ideas for newbies!

8. Kiwi Dip

Another classic New Zealand food is the ol’ combo of dip and chips. This popular combo must be eaten at all BBQs or get-togethers.

How to make the dip: Grab one tin of reduced cream and one soup packet (onion flavoured). Mix the two and put it in the fridge. You can add a squeeze of lemon to the dip to intensify the flavour.

I also use it with pumpkin and garlic soup packet which is my favourite combo!

Experience the food of New Zealand, closeup of a pile of vibrant green feijoa fruit
Photo by Elena G on Unsplash

9. Feijoa

This interesting fresh fruit can not only be found in New Zealand but also some countries in South America too.

Although it’s not uniquely New Zealand it’s the most popular New Zealand fruit and grows like crazy in NZ, so it’s worth a try. A lot of people make it into jam too which is delicious!

10. Sausage Sizzle

An absolute New Zealand classic! The sausage sizzle is a BBQ sausage in bread with onions and tonnes of tomato sauce.

You find a sausage sizzle anywhere from the warehouse to mitre 10 and Bunnings. Usually, they are organised by schools or organisations who are raising money for something.

You will find these at local fairs and markets too! This fast food is a favourite in New Zealand cuisine.

A proper sausage sizzle is one food you can only get in New Zealand.

Try out the New Zealand national food, top-down view of a flat white coffee in a black mug with a floral pattern drawn into its foam stood on a wooden table
Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

11. Flat White

Many New Zealand meals can be complimented with a good flat white. But its origin is contentious. A famous New Zealand and Australia competition is who invented the flat white.

One theory is that is was invented in Auckland, by someone trying to find an alternative to the latte. This would make flat whites an Auckland traditional food!

A flat white is essentially an espresso with microfoam. It has more coffee than a latte and is a popular coffee for Kiwis to drink.

They can be enjoyed while on the go, but also many Auckland best restaurants offer it as an accompaniment to dessert after your meal.

Make sure you try a flat white upon your visit to New Zealand; if you want good food to eat in Auckland (or anywhere else), follow it with a flat white!

Have you tried the national dish of New Zealand? Beekeeper in traditional white coveralls holding up a section of hive covered in honeycomb with other box hives behind surrounded by green trees
Photo by REVOLT on Unsplash

12. Manuka Honey

It’s time to move on from one of the famous drinks that was clearly invented in one of the great restaurants in Auckland.

Manuka honey actually is one of the world famous products of New Zealand, but most people don’t realise it’s from NZ.

This honey comes from the manuka tree which is native to New Zealand. The honey is very expensive but very delicious. Kiwis use manuka mostly as medicine.

A spoonful of local honey is thought to help with allergies and be good for long-term health, so make sure you pick some up when you do some New Zealand shopping!

13. Spaghetti or Creamed Corn on Toast

I remember eating this classic New Zealand dish for lunch nearly every day when I was younger! In New Zealand, you can get canned spaghetti or creamed corn.

Put that on bread and grate some cheese over the top then stick it in the oven until the cheese is melted. Super easy lunch and a classic NZ cheap (not healthy) meal!

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14. Fried Bread

Fried bread is a traditional Maori food.

It’s one of the most flexible of the traditional New Zealand dishes; it can be eaten as a savoury complement to a Hangi or a sweet with a dollop of jam or honey!

15. Boil Up

The boil up is another traditional Maori food that consists of pork bones (or whatever meat you have), vegetables and potatoes but you can use whatever is in the fridge.

There are no strict New Zealand lunch recipes for a boil up. It’s a good way to use up food that needs to be eaten!

16. New Zealand Kiwiburger

Despite the name, this isn’t the New Zealand national dish, but if you go to a burger joint, you will most likely find a Kiwiburger on the menu.

It usually consists of a meat patty, lettuce, tomato, beetroot, a sauce and a fried egg. New Zealand native food at its finest!

17. Kumera

Kumera is the Maori word for sweet potato and is a super popular New Zealand food. The Kiwis love sweet potatoes! Although this is not uniquely Kiwi, it’s a food that’s eaten a lot.

I highly recommend trying sweet potato fries while you’re in New Zealand – they are delicious!

18. Mousetraps

This is another classic quick lunch and consists of Marmite and cheese slapped on a bit of bread and put under the grill.

I used to have this traditional NZ food a lot growing up and so did most other Kiwi kids I imagine – this Kiwi style lunch is a staple!

There’s also another variation of mousetraps that consist of cheese, bacon and egg on a bit of toast and then grilled!

19. Southland Cheese Rolls

If you’re from the South Island you will be familiar with the cheese roll. As I grew up in the North Island, I didn’t know about these until my sister who lived in the south told me about them.

A cheese roll is made with grated cheese, evaporated milk, some onion soup packet, chopped onions, and some garlic.

The mixture is spread on a piece of bread and rolled and then baked for 5 – 10 minutes.

Making these delicious rolls is one of the most unique things to do in South Island New Zealand, and so is eating them!

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20. L&P (Lemon & Paeroa)

This is a favourite drink for New Zealanders (except me, not a fan)! It’s lemon mixed with carbonated mineral water which is from the town of Paeroa (hence the name).

You can get this drink everywhere, from supermarkets to cafes and bakeries, and some bars will even mix in some New Zealand gins for an added kick.

Experience some of the traditional food in New Zealand, closeup of front of bottle of Johner brand 2014 Pinot Noir wine from New Zealand sat on a wooden table

21. New Zealand Wine

New Zealand is known for its wine, particularly it’s pinot noir! Make sure you visit one of New Zealand’s wine regions to taste some world-renowned wine.

Some notable ones are Marlborough, Nelson and Martinborough.

Delicious New Zealand Desserts You Must Try

Kiwis love dessert! Desserts are an important part of any food culture, and New Zealand cuisine is no different!

Here are some delicious New Zealand desserts to try when you visit, and I hope you love them all as much as we do!

22. Lamingtons

One of my favourite bakery items is a lamington! A lamington is an extremely light sponge. It’s then dipped in either chocolate or raspberry flavouring and then dipped in coconut flakes.

This is definitely one of the best New Zealand desserts, and you can find these delicious New Zealand delicacies in every Kiwi bakery!

Learn what you must eat in New Zealand, tub of Tip Top brand Hokey Pokey ice cream

23. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

One of the most popular New Zealand desserts is Hokey Pokey flavoured ice cream! It’s essentially vanilla ice cream with hard caramel balls and caramel swirls within it.

Make sure you don’t break your teeth on those caramel bits though, they can be super hard!

Enjoy the national food of New Zealand, closeup of New Zealand custard square dessert with large bites taken out of it held in someone's hand

24. Custard Squares

This is my favourite sweet treat and a popular one you will find in any bakery. A custard square is a layer of pastry then set custard, then pastry and finally a sweet icing on top.

It’s gooey, delicious and one of the most loved New Zealand desserts!

Find your favourite New Zealand delicacies, picture of wrapper of Whittaker's brand Original Peanut Slab Milk Chocolate Bar

25. Peanut Slab

In my opinion, New Zealand does the BEST chocolate and the best brand to try is called Whitakers. They do an NZ classic chocolate bar called a peanut slab with peanuts and milk chocolate mixed.

It’s a classic New Zealand snack and a must-try!

Enjoy crowd-pleasing popular food in New Zealand, tub of Tip Top brand Goody Goody Gum Drops ice cream

26. Goody Goody Gum Drop Ice Cream

If I had to pick one ice cream flavour for the rest of my life it would be this one. This flavoured ice cream has a lime flavouring with little lollies in it which are called goody gumdrops.

New Zealand desserts and ice creams are so unique, and this one is a must-try in my opinion!

27. Lolly Cake

Another quintessential New Zealand sweet treat is the lolly cake. It’s a sweet mixture made with butter, condensed milk, malt biscuits and of course lollies!

The most popular lolly to use for this is the Eskimo which I have no idea how to explain better than a harder marshmallow.

You can find lolly cake (and Eskimo lolly cake) in most bakeries and some supermarkets, however Kiwi sweets like this are super easy to make too!

28. Milk Bottles

This is another New Zealand classic lolly. It’s a semi-hard lolly (sweet) that tastes like milk. To be honest, I am not a fan of the milk bottle but still, it’s worth a try as may do love it!

29. Fairy Bread

Fairy bread was essential at every New Zealand kids’ birthday party. If you didn’t have fairy bread, what the hell were you doing?!

Fairy bread is just bread with butter and then hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top, glamourous I know.

This is the best food in New Zealand if you’re a kid, though, you can’t convince me otherwise!

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30. Buzz Bars

Buzz bars were a super popular New Zealand food back in the day. It’s a small chocolate bar which contains marshmallow and a layer of caramel then covered in Cadbury chocolate.

31. Jaffa’s

There are a few New Zealand desserts that are really just elaborate biscuits. The yummy Jaffa Cake is one of them.

These are made up of a hard layer of orange with soft chocolate inside. They are delicious and a must have food when you go to the movies!

Iconic New Zealand food you have to try, white plate holding a large white pavlova cake covered with raspberries, pomegranate pieces and mint leaves

32. Pavlova

Australians are going to hate me for this but here goes. Pavlova is a New Zealand dessert made from meringue. The outside is supposed to be a little hard and the inside is gooey meringue.

On top, we normally decorate it with whipped cream, strawberries and kiwifruit.

It’s a dessert that has long been in dispute between Australia and New Zealand about who thought of the pavlova first.

Regardless of who first made it, though, Pavlova is one of the most popular New Zealand desserts. In fact, it’s considered by many to be the national dish of New Zealand – and you can find it everywhere!

33. Pineapple Lumps

These chocolate sweets are one of New Zealand’s most popular confectionery! They have a layer of chocolate with a ‘pineapple’ inside but to me, they don’t taste like pineapple at all.

Whatever they taste like, they are good and a Kiwi classic!

34. Anzac Biscuit

The Anzac biscuit has a hard consistency and made from oats, golden syrup and a load of other ingredients.

The history of the Anzac dates to World War 1 where wives and others would send their sons and husbands these New Zealand desserts because the ingredients wouldn’t go off in transit.

35. Afghan Biscuit

Afghan biscuits are traditional New Zealand biscuits made from flour, butter, sugar, cornflakes, cocoa and walnuts.

This chocolaty, walnutty, crispy biscuit is a favourite amongst Kiwis and a must-try New Zealand food!

They make great New Zealand food souvenirs, and are a perfect accompaniment to your morning tea. If Mikado biscuits are for strawberry fans, Afghan biscuits are for the chocolate lovers!

Learn all about the food culture in New Zealand, closeup of the cross-section of a kiwifruit complete with green flesh and black seeds

36. Kiwifruit

Another New Zealand food that’s not uniquely Kiwi but it’s eaten a lot, plus we dose our favourite Kiwi dessert (pavlova) in kiwifruit AND Kiwi is the slang word for New Zealand people.

So, did new Zealanders invent kiwifruit? No, but just go with it! There’s a kiwifruit mad town in the North Island called Te Puke where there’s lots of kiwifruit farms and a giant kiwifruit too!

This isn’t strictly a dessert, but it’s sweet and often eaten with pavlova.

37. Chocolate Fish

You weren’t a good New Zealand child if you didn’t get rewarded with a chocolate fish at some point in your life!

So, next time you’re in New Zealand reward yourself by buying a classic New Zealand chocolate fish! A chocolate fish has a gooey marshmallow centre with milk chocolate on the outside.

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ What is the popular food in New Zealand?

For main meals, fish and chips or roast lamb are popular choices. When it comes to snacks, New Zealand food choices become more varied, with plenty of sweet and savoury options.

✅ What is a typical New Zealand breakfast?

Breakfast is a smaller meal in New Zealand, usually consisting of cereal, toast, maybe some eggs, juice and tea or coffee.

✅ What time is dinner in NZ?

Kiwis often have dinner (their evening meal) between 6-7pm, which is much earlier than a lot of other countries.

✅ How much is a coffee in New Zealand?

The average price of a coffee in New Zealand is around $4.65 in New Zealand Dollars, which is around €2.58 or $2.84 in US Dollars. Remember, if you’re working out what to eat in Auckland, add on a New Zealand flat white coffee!

✅ What do Huhu Grubs taste like?

Popular still among the local Maori population, Huhu Grubs are one of the native New Zealand foods, often eaten on New Zealand holidays and at annual festivals. They are said to taste of buttery chicken, and have also been compared to peanut butter. Be warned: they are one of New Zealand’s hardest eating challenges, seeing as they’re the larvae of Huhu beetles!

So, there’s your wrap up of the best New Zealand food you must try including some delicious New Zealand desserts!

I honestly think that the food in New Zealand is some of the best in the world and can be enjoyed by everyone, so I hope you found something on here that appeals to you.

Tell me below what you have and haven’t tried. Kiwi’s – tell me your favourite one below or one that I have missed!

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