Best New Zealand Food & Drinks: 27 Delicious Things to Try

Food in New Zealand

When you dream about the best food in New Zealand what comes to mind? Is it the delicious lamb and grass-fed beef? How about the fresh fruit and vegetable stands dotted through the rolling green hills? Well, we’re here to tell you that the traditional food in New Zealand is far more diverse than you might have imagined. Let us take you through the best New Zealand foods, where to eat them, and more fun tips. We hope you’re hungry!

Best New Zealand Food 

1. Kiwi Burger 

Let’s start off with a local favorite. You might be wondering what separates a kiwi burger from a classic one. Welp, that all starts with the fixings!

Typically kiwi burgers are topped with a healthy portion of tomatoes, lettuce, and onions, but the real star of the show is the beetroot. You can also add toppings like streaky bacon or a fried egg to elevate this New Zealand classic.

New Zealand Food

2. Meat Pie 

As far as traditional food in New Zealand goes, it doesn’t get more kiwi than a meat pie! Meat pies are found at virtually every dairy, grocery store, and bakery across the country. While there’s nothing wrong with a good mince and cheese, there’s actually a huge variety of meat pies to taste on your New Zealand food journey.

Some of our other favorites include pepper steak, lamb, and veggie curry. From our experience, the best meat pies can be found at the local bakery. We also appreciate the ones that have a thin and flakey crust. 

Best New Zealand Food

3. Sausage Sizzles

Have you ever thought about throwing every type of meat possible on a grill and seeing what happens? That’s exactly wha a New Zealand sizzle is!

You may already be able to tell that much of the most popular food in New Zealand is meat-based. At cookouts and community events it can be common to see a meat sizzle with sausage, steak, burgers, lamb, ribs, and everything under the sun! 

4. Sausage Roll 

On the surface, the idea of a sausage roll might not sound so appetizing. However, if you hit the right bakery they can be some of the best food in New Zealand! Whenever we enter a bakery we always take a gander at the meat pies and sausage rolls.

You can typically tell if they are looking fresh. So if the outside is light and crispy you have a winner! Sausage rolls can be hit or miss, but when you get a good one it’s undeniably delicious.

New Zealand Food Sausage Roll

5. Cheese Rolls 

So what other types of New Zealander foods come in rolls? One item commonly ordered at cafes are the delicious cheese rolls. The gooey cheese melts between the crisp outside of the white bread, creating a cheesy roll for you to enjoy. Definitely grab one if you’re on the go, or looking for something to pair with your white flat coffee.

Traditional Food in New Zealand

6. Potato Topper 

We’ve talked about meat pies, but honestly the Potato Topper deserves its own category! It basically adds everything you love about a typical meat pie with soft whipped potatoes swirled on the top.

Each bite of this will leave you drooling, but be careful. It may be hard to go back to a normal meat pie afterwards!

Food in New Zealand Potato Topper 

7. Fish n’ Chips 

Aside from meat pies, fish n’ chips might be the most traditional food in New Zealand. This country has some of the freshest fish in the world and that’s displayed proudly at its local fish spots.

Usually they cheapest option will run you a few NZD and then they’ll have others such as snapper or cod for a little bit more. Whatever fish you decided on make sure to order it with a healthy serving of chips (french fries). 

New Zealand Food Fish and Chips

8. Hāngī

When it comes to unique New Zealand foods, Hāngī is an absolute must try! This is the old Māori way of cooking that goes back hundreds of years. The ancient technique is done by steaming the meat and vegetables in the ground.

The first time we tried Hāngī was from a small stand cooked by a local women who made it at her house. It was full of chicken, Kūmara, cabbage, and more! If you don’t get lucky seeing a side of the road stand you can also take a tour of a Māori village.

Best Traditional Food in New Zealand

9. Lamb 

New Zealand is full of amazing meats, but in our opinion lamb is absolutely #1! And want to know the best part? While you can easily get this popular New Zealand food at a restaurant, it’s just as easy to cook at home.

During our time in New Zealand we would buy a whole lamb leg at the grocery store any time we had access to an oven. All you need is to get your basic ingredients of mixed herbs, rosemary, and surround it with a healthy serving of potatoes and salad.

Best Food in New Zealand Lamb

10. Whitebait Fritters

Ready for more of the best food in New Zealand? These tiny fish are plucked from the water, and served up to happy customers from August to November.

Often they are prepared with eggs like an omelette, but the seasoning and crispy texture gives it a much different taste. You can find the local delicacy everywhere from small fish n’ chips stands to high end seafood restaurants. 

New Zealand Food Whitebait Fritters

11. New Zealand Salmon

New Zealand Salmon is known as some of the best in the world. Prepared and served in a variety of ways, this was our go-to breakfast while traveling New Zealand in our campervan.

If you’re traveling near Mount Cook make sure to stop at the High Country Salmon Farm. We guarantee you wont regret it after trying this popular food in New Zealand!

New Zealand Food Salmon

12. Local Fruits 

The list of scrumptious fruits is endless, and you’ll see them grown fresh on the farms everywhere on your New Zealand food journey. From apples and apricots too fresh cherries and grapes, you’ll never run out of fruits to snack on.

We recommend always having cash on you so you can stop at the many roadside farm stands. Most people may associate this New Zealand food to the popular kiwi fruit, yet there’s actually another one you might have not heard of!

The feijoa is native to New Zealand, and is described as a cross between a strawberry and pineapple. They’re used to make juices and also as a mixer in alcoholic beverages. Other fruits you can find in NZ are cherries, apricots, peaches, apples, pears, and grapes.

New Zealand Food and Fruit

13. Kūmara

Aside from the diverse selection of fruits, some of the best food in New Zealand also includes vegetables! Kūmara is something we’d never heard of before we arrived, but it would be included in many of our meals.

The root vegetable is specific to the North Island of New Zealand and is their own version of sweet potato. This traditional food in New Zealand is best served with chicken, but is a tasty addition to any dinner!

14. Paua

Paua is a shellfish that is found attached to the rocks on the beaches of New Zealand. Surprisingly, it’s meaty inside tastes almost like a steak rather than fish.

Many divers will try to get them on their own. However, it takes a skilled chef to cook them correctly. This native seafood is very sought after internationally so we felt honored to try it on the shores of Kaikōura! 

New Zealand Food Paua

15. Bluff Oysters

The small seaside town of Bluff on the South Island has fresh oysters that any seafood lover would dream of. One thing that we didn’t realize is that it’s common in New Zealand to buy the oysters pre-shucked out of a small tub!

This may be a little weird if you’re used to shucking them yourself, but it definitely saves you some time. You can also go out and grab them at restaurants nearby and have your oysters fried.

Best Food in New Zealand

16. New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels 

Moving onto our next delicious seafood, we have the Green lipped mussels. These are the most popular mussels in New Zealand and are sooo tasty. The best part is you don’t have to go out and get them at a fancy restaurant.

They’re found at almost any big supermarket in New Zealand with the price being very reasonable. If you do want to eat them out head to Havelock. This town is known as the mussel capital of New Zealand and it definitely lives up to the hype!

Food New Zealand

17. Tua Tua Clams

Our love for oysters and mussels has been well documented over the years, but we developed an affection for these special clams in New Zealand. The Tua Tua’s are found in abundance in the Bay of Plenty on the North Island.

The most fun part about this New Zealand food is you can go find and collect them yourself quite easily. In fact, when we were staying in Pukehena Beach we went out almost everyday to collect some for dinner!

Fun traditional food in New Zealand

18. Crayfish

By now you can tell there’s plenty of seafood in a New Zealand diet. Just know these aren’t your typical crawfish! Honestly when we heard the name we thought of a Louisiana or Texas bake, but they’re nothing like that.

Crayfish in New Zealand are more like a small lobster than anything else. Mostly found in the beautiful town of Kaikoura, this delicious sea creature will cost you a pretty penny to try.  The cheapest we’ve seen crayfish for was around 40-50 NZD.

Desserts to Enjoy After Your Food in New Zealand 

19. Chocolate 

Okay were finally onto the sweets! Let’s just say the chocolate in New Zealand is almost indescribable to someone that hasn’t had it. Whitakers is a staple of every New Zealand household, and this delicious treat melts in your mouth instantly. Some other must try brands include Purelicious and Donovans. 

Chocolate in New Zealand

20. Manuka Honey 

If you’ve ever been to New Zealand in the summertime then you’ll notice the insane amount of bees! Still, you’ll be happy to know they actually produce some of the best honey in the world. Manuka honey is actually so sweet you’ll only need a dab to get your fix.

It goes great in tea, on yogurt, and really everything else. You can even see it being paired together with wines and cheeses around the country. Manuka honey makes for a great gift to send home for friends and family, too!

Traditional Food in New Zealand

21. Hokey Pokey

You can’t write a New Zealand foods blog without mentioning ice cream! Far and away, the favorite on both the North and South Island is hokey pokey.

This is a vanilla ice cream with chunks of honeycomb toffee mixed in. Hokey pokey is perfect on a hot day or when you need a sweet treat after lunch.

22. Real Fruit Ice Cream

Not a fan of the hokey pokey? Don’t worry, New Zealand has an amazing alternative for fruit fans! Once the weather gets warmer, the real fruit ice cream stands pop up in numbers.

How it’s made is regular ice cream blended with fruits of your choice and served on a cone or cup. The best one we had was actually in the Cherry growing region of Central Otago. Believe it or not, it was at a local farm right out of someones garage!

23. Pavlova

Now you know that kiwis have a sweet tooth, and that can be seen in their ice creams, chocolates, candy, and cakes! Pavlova is a must try when looking to the dessert side of New Zealand food. This special cake is made with a base of meringue, and includes whipped cream, kiwi, and other fruits stacked on top. 

Best Food in NZ Pavlova

Drinks to Enjoy With Your New Zealand Foods

24. L&P

This is easily the most drank soda in New Zealand. When at your local fish n’ chips spot it’s just as common to see someone popping open an L&P soda as an ice cold beer. Think sprite with a kiwi twist! 

25. Flat White 

Simply put, this is New Zealand’s version of a latte. The milk is steamed instead of being frothed, which leaves a creamy texture on top.

A flat white hits just right on a cold winter morning. This is just another example of how they use the prime dairy to their advantage in New Zealand!

New Zealand Flat White

26. New Zealand Wine 

There are literally hundreds of wineries in New Zealand and it’ll be hard to drive more than a few miles without running into an incredible vineyard. Some of the most famous wine regions are Marborough, Central Otago, and Waiheke Island.

They all specialize in different types of wine but sauvignon blanc and pinot noir are the most popular. We took many tours in between looking for the best food in New Zealand and can’t say enough about it!

New Zealand Wine

27. Craft Beer

While wine is the most well known alcohol from New Zealand, the craft beer scene is thriving, too! There’s many craft breweries popping up around the country all with their own twists and flavors.

Some of the very best breweries in New Zealand are located in the capital city of Wellington. There’s even a craft beer trail that takes you to over 15 different breweries in the capital city.

New Zealand Beer

Have any questions on this article or want to share your favorite traditional food in New Zealand? Let us know in the comments below!

→ Explore All Our South Island and North Island New Zealand Travel Guides

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

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Food New Zealand

New Zealand Travel Planning 

Jucy Van: The best way to explore New Zealand is with a Jucy camper! We spent over six weeks driving around the North and South Islands in a van and loved every moment.

 Rental Car: If you’re not renting a van you’ll still need a vehicle to get around. We use Discover Cars when traveling and enjoy having the freedom to get around.

 Flights: It’s easy to find cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we got flights from Auckland to Queenstown for $40 USD, and New Zealand to Fiji for less than $150! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites for the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over New Zealand! They have everything from a Milford Sound cruise with underwater observatory, to a Otago wine tour with gourmet wine & lunch, and even a Kaikoura whale watching cruise

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for insurance the last few years and they are always there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

South Island New Zealand

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1 Comment

  1. December 15, 2023 / 12:21 pm

    To cook good food not all people know that to cook good food, the mind should also be clean and I have seen your post and the recipe you have made is very beautiful, I sincerely hope that when I make these recipes, I will very happy i will definitely try it.

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