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Must Try New Zealand Food: A Comprehensive Guide

Must Try New Zealand Food: A Comprehensive Guide

Food is one of the main reasons I love to travel. It’s probably one of the main reasons I love life!

As much as I adore curling up with a good book and a plate of Pillsbury cookies, there’s something uniquely satisfying about eating your way through a country.

Which is exactly what I’ve done in New Zealand.

Must Try New Zealand Foods

Living in New Zealand for the past 9 months has allowed me to sample almost every national delicacy the country has to offer. While my waistbands are certainly suffering for it, the rest of me is extremely proud to have conquered so much food.

And what a waste it would be to not share the must eat food of New Zealand with you!


1. Hangi

Must Try New Zealand Foods

Hangi isn’t really a food – it’s a style of cooking. In the New Zealand Maori tradition, food is cooked on heated stones in a covered pit. This smokes the meat and softens the vegetables without risk of overcooking.

You can have basically anything in a hangi. Meat and root vegetables are most popular, but even fish can be cooked this way. Lamb cooked in a hangi is supposed to be delicious (I tried it, but my hatred of lamb kept me from enjoying it.).

Although it’s delicious, it’s not very popular in the cities. You’ll need to go to a Maori restaurant or a retreat like the Tamaki Maori Village to try some good hangi.

While you’re there, try out the Maori fried scones. They’re deep-fried scones that are airy and oily and absolutely perfect with a spot of jam.


2. Meat Pies

What would the world be without meat pies? A place I wouldn’t want to live in, that’s for sure!

Meat pies are HUGE in New Zealand (in popularity, not size). You can find individual sized pies at every dairy (convenience store), gas station, small shop and grocery store in the country.

And they aren’t just meat. Sure, there’s the standard mince or mince and cheese pie. But there’s also vegetable, butter chicken, chicken and mushroom, and more to choose from.

At around $6NZD per pie, these are a great snack or cheap meal while travelling.

To get a real Kiwi pie, find one with mashed potatoes on top. Not only are the potatoes delicious, but they soak up the sauce in a mince pie so well. …and now I’m drooling on my keyboard.


3. Manuka Honey

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Anzeige: Bei dem Manuka Honig handelt es sich um einen Honig, der in seiner Wirkung bislang einzigartig ist. Der echte Manuka-Honig  stammt aus Neuseeland und kleinen Teilen Australiens. Manuka Honig ist innerlich und äußerlich anwendebar. Als natürliches Antibiotikum wirkt er gegen eine Vielzahl von Bakterien, Viren und Pilze. Er ist ein effektives Mittel zur Behandlung von Wunden, Verbrennungen und Hauterkrankungen. Es eignet sich für die Anwendung von inneren und äußeren Entzündungen. Haut: Bei der Hautpflege punktet Manuka Honig sowohl bei gesunder als auch bei kranker Haut. Hautkrankheiten wie Neurodermitis und Schuppenflechte durch Juckreiz und entzündete Stellen. Eine Hautpflege mit Manuka Honig kann helfen, die Haut zu beruhigen, die Entzündungen zu reduzieren und den Juckreiz zu lindern. Müde Haut erlangt mehr Strahlkraft. Außerdem wird die Haut vor dem Austrocknen bewahrt. Erkältungen: Bei Schnupfen, Husten und Halsschmerzen lindert der Honig (innerlich angwendet) die Entzündungszeichen im Hals und stärkt das Immunssystem. Schnupfen kann gelindert werden, indem die Naseninnenwand mit Honig bestrichen wird. Immunsystem stärken: Mit der regelmäßigen Einnahme von Manuka Honig können die Abwehrkräfte gestärkt werden. Verdauungssystem: Sind entzündliche Magen-Darm-Beschwerden Schuld an der Störung des Verdauungstraktes, kann man mit der Einnahme von Manuka Honig gegen die Beschwerden ankämpfen. Es stärkt zusätzlich die Darmflora. …Und viele weitere Eigenschaften hat das Wundermittel Manuka Honig… Manuka Honig verwende ich auch in meinen Behandlungen. Sicher Dir jetzt einen Termin 🌿💚 #manukahealth#manuka#manukahonig#entzündung#livingnature#naturkosmetik#organicskincare#honig#wundermittel#immunsystem#neuseeland#manukahoney#manuka

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Honey’s not that special. You can get it anywhere. Right?


New Zealand honey is on a different level. The honey is made from the pollen of the manuka plant (the same one we get tea tree oil from). It lends a slight floral note to the honey.

Manuka honey is said to have antibacterial or alternative medicinal properties. While none of this is proven, that doesn’t stop pharmacies from selling jars of honey.

Because manuka honey is a delicacy, it’s more expensive than regular honey. Jars range in prices. The cheapest ones you’ll find will be at the grocery store – but they still won’t compare with regular old honey.


4. Flat White

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I can’t handle it😭 @olives_.o


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New Zealand—much like its neighbour, Australia—is coffee obsessed.

Seriously, you should see how much my coworkers drink. It’s a wonder they don’t vibrate right through the floor!

The most common coffee ordered in New Zealand is a flat white. It is an espresso drink with micro-foam.

As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I’m not sure what that means. But it looks frothy and pretty when everyone else drinks it.

Apparently, coffee here really packs a punch, so a cup here might equal 2 or 3 in Canada. Be careful ordering or you might never sleep again.

The second most popular coffee is a long black, which is like an American. It’s a double-shot of espresso poured over hot water.

(Disclaimer: I haven’t had a flat white or a long black since I don’t drink caffeine.)


5. Candy

Must Try New Zealand Food

New Zealand has a lot of amazing cookies, candies and chocolates to indulge in.

One of your first stops in the country should definitely be the candy aisle of the grocery store to snag lots of goodies for your visit.

My personal favourites are Griffith’s malt biscuits (a sweet digestif style biscuit) and afghan cookies (a chocolate and Weetabix cookie with chocolate frosting and a walnut on top).

My sister’s favourite is Tim Tams. I’ve already been told to bring home boxes for her or she’ll kick me out of Canada.

For the candy lovers, try minties (chewable mint candies), milk shakes (I hate these but they’re a cult favourite over here), pineapple chunks (pineapple flavoured marshmallow dipped in chocolate), jaffas (small orange balls of chocolate) and Anzac biscuits (oat and coconut cookies).

An iconic Kiwi ice lolly is a Jelly Tip. It’s a vanilla ice cream bar topped with a pink jelly tip and then covered in chocolate. It’s surprisingly refreshing, even though the jelly tip a very fake red-fruit (there’s no other way to describe it) flavour.

If you’re looking for amazing chocolate, go for Whittaker’s. The bars are huge, so they cost more than most. But the chocolate is absolutely divine. I love a peanut slab (a small sized chocolate bar with peanuts), the dark chocolate peppermint and their peanut butter filled bars.

Can’t decide which flavour to get?  Grab one of their mixed mini packs.

I’ll definitely be buying a few (dozen) bars for the plane ride home!

Must Try New Zealand Food


6. Pavlova

Must Try New Zealand Food

Pavlova is the quintessential Kiwi dessert. It’s basically the only food (besides kiwifruits) that I knew was a thing in New Zealand. My grandma even called me to tell me about the ballerina it was named after.

After all that, I was so excited to finally try one.

Turns out, I hate them. Pavlova is incredibly sweet since it’s hardened meringue. Basically it’s a firm pile of sugar that’s whipped to look pretty. Which, while delicious, is very difficult for someone with trouble processing sugar (like me!). I was bouncing off walls one second then falling over the next.

It still tasted amazing, but the sugar-hangover I had for the next day was enough to keep me away from them.

If you’re going for a pavlova, be prepared for a sugar high or to not eat a 2-portioned one alone!


7. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Must Try New Zealand Food
Note: It’s not always served with chocolate on top.

I’ve never heard the term “hokey pokey” used to refer to anything other than the dance before. Is that just me??

Because Brits and Kiwis looked at me like I was insane when I laughed at this label.

Hokey Pokey is British/Kiwi for honeycomb – a thing we don’t generally put in our candy back in Canada seeing as it’s insanely sweet. They have no qualms about that here!

While hokey pokey chocolate physically hurts my teeth, hokey pokey ice cream is well balanced. I could definitely plow through a full container before I started getting the sugar-twitches.

On a hot summer day in New Zealand, a hokey pokey ice cream is an amazing way to cool down.


8. L&P Soda

We’re at our 2nd not-a-food item on this list. But I had to include New Zealand’s two most famous drinks: the flat white and the L&P soda.

L&P is a soda sold in a brown plastic bottle. You can get them basically everywhere.

The flavour is kind of lemon-meets-cough-syrup-meets-sugar.

I wasn’t a fan.

Some people really love the stuff. Maybe it’s because I’m not big on soda? Or because the two times I tried it were on hot days where all I wanted was water?

Who knows!

Try the soda while you’re in New Zealand and see how you feel about it. Maybe you’ll taste something completely different (and hopefully more pleasant) than I did.


9. Unique Produce

These won’t be unique to someone from New Zealand, but I was pretty shocked by them.

I assumed that the US grew every type of produce imaginable, so we must get it all in Canada, too.


There’s tons of fruit and vegetables out there that I’ve never even heard of. New Zealand (and later Singapore) really proved that.

6 really stuck out to me in New Zealand:


Must Try New Zealand Food

A green fruit that is shaped like an egg and tastes like green apples.


This egg-shaped, red fruit tastes tangy and sweet, like a kiwifruit or a tomato.


A vegetable similar in taste and shape to a sweet potato. It comes in purple (less sweet), orange (mild) and white (sweeter).

Golden Kiwifruit

The best new fruit I found in New Zealand. Golden kiwifruit are slightly sweeter than the green ones. The flesh is a bit more yellow and it is less acidic.

Red Kiwifruit

Must Try New Zealand Food

Even Kiwis don’t know about these. Red kiwifruit are red inside and have a berry-like sweetness to them. They’re delicious, but the bright red colour in a kiwifruit is so strange that is kind of put me off.


That’s right: they even have kiwifruit in berry form! These grape-sized fruits taste exactly like a kiwifruit. They have no fur on the outside, but otherwise look just like a miniature kiwifruit.

10. Lamb

New Zealand has more sheep than people, so of course it’s known for its lamb.

As someone who detests lamb, I didn’t partake very often. I tried a lamb hangi and a bite of stewed lamb during my time here. Both nearly ended up spit into a napkin.

So, I’m not the best person to advertise the lamb of New Zealand.

But sometimes it’s not all about me (shocking I know!).

If you like lamb, make sure to try some in New Zealand. It’s very popular!


11. Kiwifruit

Must Try New Zealand Food

It’s impossible to talk about the land of Kiwis and not mention the kiwifruit.

The rest of the world simply knows them as kiwis. Here, you’ll got mocked horrendously for saying that. In New Zealand, “kiwis” are people. “Kiwifruit” is the fruit. And “kiwi bird” is the bird.

It took me months before I managed to change over.

Kiwifruit is easy to find in New Zealand. They’re in every grocery store all year round. They even sell them in large bundles with a special kiwi spoon (it’s a spoon with a knife for a handle so you can eat your kiwifruit on the go).

They’re also some of the most reasonably priced fruits at the store. So load up on kiwifruit while you explore the land of the Kiwis!


12. Tuatua

Must Try New Zealand Food

Tuatua is the Maori name for clams. In New Zealand, they can range in size from something as big as your thumb to something as big as your palm.

People go hunting for them on beaches and boil them up for a quick meal.

If you’re not looking to dig for your food, some restaurants serve tuatua. Head to a fish and chips shop for fried tuatua or to an Italian restaurant for tuatua on pasta.


13. Whitebait Fritters

Whitebait are fried young fish. At this point the fish are still small so their meat is tender. People here eat the entire fish fried in an egg omelette. This omelette is then served on a sandwich.

These fritters are hard to find in major cities, but more regional areas offer them.

The look of the squiggly fish put me off too much to try them, but they’re supposed to be delicious.



There’s so much more food I considered adding to this list, but it had to end somewhere!

This list will guide you through the main Kiwi cuisines that everyone should try to experience while they’re in New Zealand. Maybe they’ll lead you to other discoveries, like New Zealand’s thriving Asian food scene. Or maybe you’ll become so addicted to one item you’ll stop eating anything else (like me with meat pies for the first two weeks I was here).

Either way, I wish you a delicious exploration of all New Zealand has to offer.



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