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New Zealand food – 20 popular NZ foods you need to try

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Are you planning a trip to the beauty that is New Zealand and are a bit of a foodie?? Excellent! We have compiled a list of the best New Zealand food and drink items you need to seek out during your NZ visit!

New Zealand food and drink

1. Whittakers Chocolate

Whittakers are New Zealand’s most loved brand and the number 1 confectionary manufacturer. Their large golden wrapped blocks of chocolate bars are heavenly and available in a large variety of favours. We recommend the dark chocolate Ghana Peppermint …yum! 

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

2. Green lipped mussels

These large fatty mussels are only found in New Zealand and the hint of emerald green colour on their outer shell gives them their name. You can enjoy eating them steamed with white wine, garlic and bacon, or place them under the grill with a topping of cheese and garlic. The Mussel Kitchen in the Coromandel is one of our favourite places in New Zealand to eat them!

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

3. Hāngī

Hāngī is a traditional Maori dish consisting of meat, potatoes and root vegetables, wrapped in flax leaves, and cooked for hours in a covered pit lined with hot stones and a hot wood fire.

This long process results in tender off-the-bone meat and vegetables infused with an earthy smoky fragrance. Hāngī is not usually found on restaurant menus in New Zealand, so the best place for visitors to sample this is in Rotorua, where large feasts are cooked up in the city’s natural thermal steam and water.  

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4. Meat pies

The humble meat pie is an iconic comfort food for Kiwi folk. The most popular filling of this hand-sized savoury snack is minced meat, gravy and cheese. Fish and veggie options are widely available too. 

You won’t have any trouble finding them as many supermarkets, cafes, bakeries, service stations and dairies (newsagents) have warming cabinets filled with them. The New Zealand pie is so popular they even have a famous annual award ceremony to find the country’s best recipe!

5. Hokey Pokey Ice cream

Hokey pokey is the New Zealand term for honeycomb toffee. Tip Top is the biggest and most popular ice cream manufacturer in the country and one of their most successful flavours combines solid lumps of hooky pokey with creamy vanilla ice cream – delicious.

6. Wine

New Zealand has 10 large wine producing regions and 376 wineries, so there is an abundance of cheap and beautiful wines to purchase. Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines are award winning and world renowned, so make sure you make try some wine tasting at a vineyard whilst you are visiting.

We recommend a visit to Auckland’s Waiheke Island to check out the boutique wineries!

7. Whitebait fritter

Whitebait is a teeny tiny little fish, thats is strong in flavour and a New Zealand delicacy. During whitebait season (August – September) you’ll find many places selling fritters.

The fritter is a combination of whitebait, eggs and flour – (fried together omelette style), then seasoned with salt and pepper and a squirt of lemon. The dish is usually served up with some bread and is so delicious!!

Image via flickr

8. Kumara

Globally known as ‘sweet potato’. Kumara was brought to New Zealand by early Maori when they migrated from Polynesia. This root vegetable is commonly used in traditional Hāngī cooking, and also enjoyed widely in the form of wedges, fries and croquettes. 

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try
Image via flickr

9. Fish and chips

Fish and chips were not actually invented in New Zealand, but this traditional takeaway dish is extremely popular with kiwi folk. However unlike in the UK, in New Zealand you can usually find some amazing seafood items on fish and chip shop menus – think battered scallops, squid, mussels, oysters etc – beats boring old cod eh?

When ordering this dish you will need to pronounce it just like the locals do – spoken as ‘fush n chips’. This classic takeaway dish is possibly the most popular food in New Zealand.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

10. Pineapple lumps

An example of ‘Kiwiana’ (a term used to represent “iconic” and kitsch New Zealand elements). These bags of pineapple favoured chewy sweets covered in milk chocolate are an all-time New Zealand favourite and have been around since the 1950’s. You can find them in pretty much every supermarket and convenience store across the country.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

11. Craft beer

Be crafty with your beer choices and get away from the likes of the mass market ‘Lion Red’ and ‘Speights’ by trying a number of incredible Aotearoa ales from the smaller boutique breweries.

Two particular favourites are Wellington’s Garage Project (with their beautifully designed labels and cans) or Auckland’s Hallertau Brewery (where you drink your beers practically straight from the tanks). A special mention also goes out to Mike’s Chocolate Milk Stout.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

12. Feijoa

The Feijoa (“pha-joe-a”) is an extremely verstalite, green, egg-shaped fruit, commonly used in baking, juices, smoothies, confectionary and even alcohol! It is a tropical fruit with a texture similar to kiwi fruit and is in season from March to June each year.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

13. Bluff oysters

Bluff oysters are New Zealand’s South Island’s most famous delicacy, They are more juicer and larger than regular oysters and said to be the tastiest in the world. They are only in season from March to August each year and will cost you approx $30 for a dozen. 

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

14. L&P (Lemon & Paeroa)

L&P is a very popular and iconic soft drink combining lemon and carbonated local mineral water and only available in New Zealand. The drink was created in the small north island town of Paeroa in 1907, and it is a Kiwi institution to have your photo taken next to the giant 7 metre tall bottle of L&P that stands there. Whittakers even produce an L&P flavoured chocolate bar!

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

15. Chocolate fish

Made by Cadbury’s, this iconic treat is a strawberry flavoured fish shaped marshmallow that is covered in milk chocolate. In Kiwi culture this confectionary item is a common reward for a job well done.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

16. Tuatua clams

Tuatua are highly regarded by the Maori people and are part of the clam family. They are creamy, milder and meaty in texture and taste great in pasta dishes or served raw.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

17. Golden Kiwi fruit

The kiwifruit is found all around the world –  however New Zealand you can find the golden kiwifruit. These are much milder, sweeter and yellow in colour.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

18. Jaffas

Jaffa are small round milk chocolates with a hard red covering of orange flavoured confectionery. The name derives from the Jaffa orange. Once a year in the town of Dunedin in New Zealand’s south Island, 30,000 Jaffas are released and raced down the world’s steepest residential street – Baldwin Street, as part of the Cadbury Chocolate carnival.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

19. Lamb

There are approximately six sheep to every person in New Zealand, so Lamb is a very cheap and popular dish on these shores. The meat is world renowned for being succulent and tender due to the sheep being reared on fresh green pastures. It is highly sought after overseas and a large amount are exported to Europe.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

20. Pavlova

A Kiwi invention (although the aussie’s claim they were first) – the Pavlova is a delicious New Zealand dessert consisting of meringue, cream and a pile of fruit on top. It is available all year round but most popular at Christmas and other summer celebrations.

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

Did you enjoy our New Zealand food blog post? Let us know in the comments or by sharing it on social media. Follow us on Instagram!

Check out our other New Zealand blog posts:

Watch our New Zealand South Island video!

Best New Zealand food – add to Pinterest!

20 New Zealand food and drinks items you need to try

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  • Reply
    Leticia Bernardes
    November 6, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Just a quick correction: kiwi call sweet potato as kumara, not kumura.

    I’m from Brazil, but currently living in NZ and I started a blog. I wrote a list of my favorite foods and we agree in many itens!
    L&P, hokey pokey ice cream and whittakers peanut slab are my favourites.

    • Reply
      November 6, 2018 at 9:23 pm

      Hey Leticia – thanks for the heads up about spelling mistake! I’m back in NZ soon and cannot wait to eat some of these things again 🙂 – great looking post by the way!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Number 18 shouldn’t be confused with the other type of JAFA in New Zealand…!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2019 at 10:08 am

    and you absolutely need to have Lewis Road Creamery chocolate milk on your list too Caz!

    • Reply
      February 14, 2019 at 10:15 am

      oh yeah! Good call 🙂 I’ll try and get a photo when I arrive in Auckland next month

  • Reply
    Neon Nights
    July 10, 2022 at 2:53 am

    Hey Caroline,

    Your photos are fantastic, you totally capture the Kiwi experience. This is the best list I’ve seen but come back for another visit to try south Island those cheese rolls. My favourite is paua fritters are a local delicacy, you should them to the list. If you don’t wanna make it at home, you can order this at Hot Kiwi Food in CHCH.

    My favourite paua fritters

    minced paua
    3 eggs
    1 cup of flour
    1 Tsp
    a hand full of oats
    1 tsp of truffle oil
    4 slices of bacon chopped
    wisteria sauce

    • Reply
      CK Travels
      July 10, 2022 at 9:35 am

      Thank you! What a great recipe, will have to try that sometime. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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