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New Zealand’s Iconic Foods You Must Try - and Where to Find Them

March 10, 2020

Whenever I visit a new country, my first thought is to find out what the locals eat. To get a true feel and authentic experience of a city or country, one of the best places to start is with their cuisine. For anyone heading across to New Zealand, here are some of their most famous dishes and snacks [sweet & savoury] and where to find them to get you started on your Kiwi adventure.  


Sweet

Whittaker’s Chocolate

In 1896, Whittaker’s Chocolate company established itself in the heart of New Zealand, stretching over 4 generations of the Whittaker’s family. This chocolate is even endorsed by Nigella Lawson - so you know it’s good. Walk down the confectionary isle of any major supermarket and a golden bar of Whittaker’s will stand proudly on their shelves. Once you have tried any of their classic or inventive flavour combinations, a shopping trip will be hard to finish without picking up a bar or two.

I would personally recommend their Dark Salted Caramel flavour for a rich indulgence or Berry and Biscuit for the perfect texture and flavour combination.

Where to find? Any major supermarket in New Zealand but it is best to get from pak’n’save - as it always comes up cheaper and they usually have a large selection.  

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Aside from the name being absolutely fantastic, this is a favourite flavour of ice cream amongst New Zealanders. Consisting of creamy vanilla ice cream laced with solid lumps of honeycomb toffee. This ice cream is a must try for anyone visiting the country. Bonus points for anyone who tries the ice cream and seeks out the Whittaker’s special Hokey Pokey flavour for your traditional New Zealand fix.

Where to find? For the most immersive ice cream experience of your life, head to Giapo Ice Cream Parlour in the heart of Auckland. If you can stand the wait in the queues you will get a hands on tailor made experience where you will be talked through the making of the ice cream whilst sampling their creations. They create pieces of ice cream art as opposed to your standard waffle cone and scoop and are sure to leave you sprinting to take ‘pics for the ‘gram’ before it melts!

Ice cream | Auckland | $$$ | Instagram: @giapokitchen | picture credit: @thejoynextdoor
Real Fruit Ice Cream

In the balmy summer months throughout New Zealand, fresh delicious fruit comes into season and fruit picking becomes a fun tourist attraction. One of the most perfect ways to cool down in the heat, and make use of the abundance of fresh berries, is to sample some real fruit ice cream. Made with either ice cream or frozen yoghurt, real fruit is crushed and combined to create the ultimate sweet, sour, creamy and refreshing ice cream for a Summer day.

Where to find? For the freshest and homemade real fruit ice cream, make a stop at a fruit market or farmers market, there will usually be a stall churning out some fruity delights.

Savoury

Savoury Pies

You might traditionally imagine a bakery as a place producing glorious freshly baked bread, or decadent pastries. However, in New Zealand, a classic bakery should always hold one thing - a savoury pie. Either encased in golden flakey pastry or topped with creamy mashed potato, most bakeries or supermarkets are sure to hold a stock of some classic NZ savoury pies. From classic Mince and Cheese, Steak, Chicken and Mushroom to more inventive flavours such as Thai Green Curry, Chicken and Camembert or Chicken Satay. Vegetarians don’t have to miss out either, a personal favourite of mine was always a veg curry pie, or butternut squash, spinach and feta. Think of Cornwall as being famous for pasties, you can’t travel New Zealand without giving one a try.  

Where to find? In my time travelling New Zealand, we spent many lunchtimes sampling their pie offerings, but the bakery who took the crust for us has to be Raglan Bakery. Huge variety of flavours, reasonably priced and a traditional NZ pie experience at its best.

Pies, Baked Goods, Pastries | Kaikoura | $$ | Picture credit: @lifeofmanypies

Fish and Chips

Although we see it as a British seaside classic, Fish and Chips has actually become a New Zealand classic too. Unsure of the origin, the crispy golden battered fish has become the Kiwi takeaway of choice, and the holiday makers perfect low-cost delicious dinner. Nothing screams New Zealand like grabbing some ‘fush’n’chups’ and sitting on the sea front (but just like Britain, watch out for the seagulls).

Where to find? For a traditional fish market experience and a flavour worth waiting the long queues for head to Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market in Tauranga. For a brilliant cheap lunch deal grab a bite at The Chippery in Wellington.

BurgerFuel

BurgerFuel is a chain of fast-food burger restaurant and takeaways throughout New Zealand. Focused on not just the taste and speed, BurgerFuel set out to make gourmet burgers with fresher and more natural ingredients to ‘fuel the human engine’. They have a huge range of delicious burgers from grass-fed beef, chicken, fish and an extensive vegetarian and vegan menu to satisfy the masses. Making a pit stop to BurgerFuel? Arrive hungry! Their burgers alone are huge, packed full of plenty of salad and flavour. Add a side portion of fries and you are good to go for the rest of the day. I recommend you order the Kumara fries with aioli dip- a BurgerFuel specialty.

Where to find? You will find a BurgerFuel in most major cities across New Zealand.

A good bottle of New Zealand wine

If I am ordering a glass of Sauvignon at home, it’s always a win when the wine is from New Zealand. They are famed for their hundreds of vineyards producing high quality wines, and so where better to become an expert in wine than New Zealand. Most vineyards have a cellar door you can visit for tastings and to see where the magic happens. A trip to New Zealand is seldom complete without a trip to a vineyard or a cheese platter and a cold crisp bottle of wine.

Where to find? For some of the most famous vineyards in New Zealand, take a trip to the Marlborough region. For a truly unique experience, catch the ferry over to Waiheke Island from Auckland harbour for an island literally full of wine and cellar doors.

Cellar Door, Wine | Waiheke Island | $$ | Instagram: @mudbrick_nz

Pies, Fish and Chips and Burgerfuel for mains, ice cream and chocolate for dessert, all washed down by a beautiful glass of home-grown New Zealand vino. This was your full-proof guide to New Zealand’s classic dishes for your next adventure across seas so you can come home feeling like a true Kiwi.


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