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New Zealand is a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines so 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.
There is definitely a New Zealand food culture, but NZ food is hard to pin down. With all the diversity in the food in New Zealand, you’ll most certainly find a dish you love! 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!
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’ and delicious New Zealand desserts here’s 37 of the best!
An insight into New Zealand food
A Hangi is traditional Maori food which 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!
2. Fish and chips
When someone asks me, what is a typical New Zealand dinner I say fish and chips! 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!).
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!
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! A mince pie is usually a favourite food for a quick lunch or even breakfast!
New Zealand has world-class seafood! Because New Zealand is an island you will find many places serving fresh seafood. 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:
- Bluff Oysters
5. Whitebait fritters and Paua fritters
Following on from New Zealand seafood, 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!
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!
New Zealand lamb is some of the most famous within 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.
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 think, what the actual fuck. 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).
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!
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 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.
11. Flat white
A famous New Zealand and Australia competition is who invented the flat white. 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. Make sure you try a flat white upon your visit to New Zealand!
12. Manuka Honey
This is actually a world famous New Zealand food that most people don’t realise is from NZ. Manuka 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!
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 overtop then stick it in the oven until the cheese is melted. Super easy lunch and a classic NZ cheap (not healthy) meal!
14. Fried bread
Fried bread is a traditional Maori food. 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 which consists of pork bones (or whatever meat you have), vegetables and potatoes but you can use whatever is in the fridge. It’s a good way to use up food that needs to be eaten!
16. Kiwi burger
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 kiwi burger on the menu. It usually consists of a meat patty, lettuce, tomato, beetroot, a sauce and a fried egg.
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!
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!
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.
20. L&P (Lemon & Paeroa)
This is a favourite drink for New Zealanders (except me, not a fan)! Its 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.
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!
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 this delicious sweet treat in every Kiwi bakery!
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!
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!
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!
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 in most bakeries and some supermarkets however it is 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!
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.
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 when you go to the movies!
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 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
The Afghan biscuit is a traditional New Zealand biscuit 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!
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.
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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