10 Essential Dishes You Have to Try in New Zealand

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When in New Zealand, eat as the Kiwis do. Travelers should definitely try to get their hands on some of the country’s quintessential dishes – from seafood to dessert and everything in between. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few local staples to add to your taste list.

10 Essential Dishes You Have to Try in New Zealand

1. A New Zealand pie

New Zealanders take their pies very seriously. There’s even an annual competition to find the very best in the country. The more traditional flavors include mince, steak and cheese, bacon and egg, and potato top. That being said, all gourmet pies from cafés and bakeries are worth trying – you might even find vegetarian and vegan options in some places.

10 Essential Dishes You Have to Try in New Zealand
10 Essential Dishes You Have to Try in New Zealand

2. The original flat white

Kiwi ingenuity brought the flat white to the coffee guzzling world. Make sure to visit your nearby café to get a taste of the real thing – it’ll be much better than the Starbucks version. Wellington punches well above its weight when it comes to coffee, and Auckland will give you your fill of great cafés too. But really, any local coffee shop will have trained their baristas to froth and brew everything to perfection.

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3. Fish and chips

If you’re around for the summer, head to the local chipper to buy some fish and chips. Then sit by the beach, and revel in a seafood-filled picnic. Common fish options include snapper, terakihi and kohi. You can usually order one scoop of normal potato chips or kumara (sweet potato) fries. Fish and chip shops will sell more than just those two must-try staples – you could also opt to buy some mussels, oysters, scallops, squid rings, and whitebait fritters.

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4. Roast lamb

Succulent and tender, roast lamb is a Kiwi favorite. 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.

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.

5. Māori hāngī

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 savor a delicious hāngī-steamed pudding for dessert.

A traditional technique filled with ingenuity

 6. Crayfish

Another traditional New Zealand food is Crayfish! Crayfish, also known as lobster, is a Kiwi favorite mostly because it something many fishermen and divers pride on catching themselves. Known to cost NZ$80 for a full crayfish, it’s not exactly the most affordable food, but it’s definitely worth a try when the opportunity presents itself! Then you’ll understand why Kiwis go cray for crayfish!

7. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Known by many overseas as “honeycomb toffee” ice cream, Hokey Pokey can almost be described as vanilla ice cream 2.0 and who would’ve ever thought vanilla could get any better! It offers the best of both worlds with that smooth vanilla ice creamy texture but with the surprise of bite-sized honeycomb pebbles. With a scoop of it in your hand, you’ll be the envy of everyone struggling under the summer heat!

8. Whittaker’s Chocolate

Ever since the release of her ad, we have been convinced that the key to Nigella’s success must be Whittaker’s Chocolate, right?! It’s the kind that sells out in supermarkets with the anticipated release of whatever magical flavor they whip out next. Wrapped up in that signature golden foil, Whittaker’s Chocolate is the best New Zealand has to offer!

9. Pavlova

New Zealand Pavlova

Although it sounds like a Russian delicacy, the pavlova was originally created in New Zealand to honor a visiting Russian ballet dancer named Anna Pavlova. Linking back to its Eastern European inspiration, the base of a pavlova is meringue prepared with cornflour. However, the addition of fruits like kiwis and passionfruit make the pavlova a true New Zealand dessert.

Since we love meringue, trying a pavlova is a must. Finding one topped with kiwis will be an extra bonus in the land of kiwis.

10. Kumara

Tuatua at Culprit
Kumara is a variety of sweet potato that is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins.  It’s usually served roasted or mashed with red meat dishes and is available as a healthier alternative to potato fries at upscale fast food joints.  Try Rosie’s fire-cooked kumara with herb butter and stracciatella; Ortolana’s kumara gnocchi with lamb, yogurt, olive, and mint; or Culprit’s kumara soup with pork bacon.


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