Here are traditional New Zealand foods and snacks you should try if you’re visiting or moving. Discover which of these popular dishes of New Zealand are your favourites.

Thinking about a trip to New Zealand, or planning to move there? Wondering which of the local delicacies you should try? Why not start with our list of the 25 most popular foods in New Zealand and try all of them.

Renowned chef Peter Gordon eloquently captures the essence of New Zealand cuisine, stating “New Zealand’s food scene is vibrant and diverse, with a unique fusion of traditional Maori flavours and modern culinary techniques. The freshness of the ingredients make dining there a truly unique experience”

Kia ora! New Zealand is well known for its incredible pristine landscapes and vibrant multi-cultural lifestyle but it’s also a hidden gem for food lovers! A Mecca in fact. From deliciously creamy dairy products to interesting Maori classics, the Kiwi food scene is a scrumptious melting pot of richly diverse cultures.

If you are looking for assistance with removals to New Zealand, make sure to visit PSS removals. Now, here are 25 popular Kiwi foods you SHOULD NOT miss out on if you are planning to visit, or move, to the Land of the White Cloud. Try them all, and decide which is your favourite. Warning: they’re all delicious!

1. Pavlova – Australian or Kiwi? Delicious either way…Pavlova

No list of New Zealand foods would be complete without the iconic Pavlova. Named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, this meringue-based dessert is coolly crisp on the outside and marshmallow-soft on the inside. It comes topped with fresh whipped cream (New Zealand does dairy products like nowhere else on earth!) and a variety of fruits like kiwifruit (of course!) and strawberries.

The ‘pav’ in fact is not just a dish; it’s a cultural Down Under icon, sparking friendly debates with close neighbours and mates across the ditch over its origins. Either way, it’s a must-try when in New Zealand.

Fun fact: the pavlova is also Australia’s national dessert. You can spot an Aussie pav by the selection of fruit on top. In Oz, it will always have fresh passion fruit squeezed directly over the whipped cream to add a touch of tartness that offsets the sweet meringue. The Kiwi pav may or may not have the passion fruit but is big on fruit like kiwifruit.

2. Meat and Vegetables – Cooked in traditional Hangi method.Hangi

The Hāngi is a traditional Māori way of cooking food using heated rocks, either buried in a pit oven or piled above ground. The food is covered in protective leaves (traditional) or foil (modern) before the pit or mound is covered in soil.

The slow-cooking technique infuses a smoky, earthy flavour into the meat and vegetables. Where the food has been wrapped in leaves, usually banana, this flavour also permeates the food for an added layer of deliciousness.

Hāngi, and similar, cooking is so much more than just food. It also has cultural and ceremonial significance in NZ. If you’re lucky enough to experience one, enjoy it

3. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream – Sweet nostalgia in a cone

If you thought New Zealand‘s climate was mostly too cold for ice cream, think again! Kiwis love their ice cream just as much as anyone else.

The favourite icy treat by far though is Hokey Pokey ice cream. This much-loved New Zealand classic can be found in ice cream parlours all over the country – they wouldn’t dare not have it!

Hokey Pokey ice cream is made from oh so creamy vanilla ice cream mixed with crunchy chunks of honeycomb toffee (yum), and is a staple in Kiwi households. A simple yet delightful indulgence, it’s something every visitor has to try, at least once. It’s pure Kiwi joy in a cone.

4. Kūmara – The versatile, super healthy, sweet potatoKumara

You say sweet potato, some say kaukau, and Kiwis say kūmara.

However, you say it, the sweet potato is a core food amongst indigenous cultures throughout the region. New Zealand is no different.

The tasty root vegetable that, despite its name, is not related to potatoes has been used in Māori cuisine for centuries. The gold, red, orange, or white vegetable is often roasted, mashed, or used in soups and stews.

Served up as a side dish or incorporated into a main course, when you have a piece of kūmara you’re adding a touch of Kiwi tradition and agricultural heritage to your plate.

5. Feijoa – Unique kiwi fruit (but not a ‘kiwi fruit’ per se)Feijoa_1

Feijoa, or the pineapple guava, is a South American native now widely grown in New Zealand. It has a fragrant, sweet, slightly tart flavour – ideal for offsetting some of those sweet sweets Kiwis are fond of.

Feijoas are enjoyed fresh, in desserts, or as a delicious jam. If you visit during the feijoa season, be sure to try this distinctive fruit. As an added bonus, it doesn’t just taste great; it’s also packed with vitamin C.

6. Whitebait Fritters – A seasonal delicacy, and not just for other fishWhitebait Fritters (1)

You’re probably more familiar with the type of whitebait that goes on the end of your fishing hook but… whitebait fritters are a coastal cuisine gourmet delicacy in New Zealand.

The tiny, translucent fish are mixed with a simple but tasty batter of eggs and flour before being fried into golden, crispy fritters. Eaten on their own, the fritters have a light, delicate flavour and crispy texture. However, they taste even better with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of salt.

7. Cheese Roll – Arguable the South Island’s all time favourite snack

Cheese Roll

The ‘Southland sushi’, or cheese roll, is great comfort food, made from a slice of bread spread with a mixture of cheese, onion, and seasoning. The tasty treat is then rolled up and toasted until crisp and toasty. A take on the proverbial cheese toasty or toasted cheese sandwich…

Southland cheese rolls make a perfect snack or side dish. They are a blend of irresistible savoury cheesy goodness! Indeed, the only thing better than a hot cheese roll is a hot cheese roll with a hot cuppa (tea of course),

If you’re visiting from the UK, you’ll no doubt feel right at home with this unique take on tea and hot scones! Hot cheese roll and tea, anyone?

8. Jaffas – Iconic Down Under confectionery with a fine racing pedigree

 

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Who doesn’t love an orange-coated, orange-flavoured chocolate ball, especially when you’re sitting in a theatre watching a movie! The crunchy sweet is so highly regarded it’s actually trademarked in Australia and New Zealand.

The Kiwis though have taken their love of the humble jaffa a step further and have, or used to have, highly skilled, specialist racing jaffas. Each July, some 75,000 tiny orange athletes were let loose on Baldwin Street in Dunedin for the annual ‘running of the balls’.

The aim? To run the race of their tiny chocolate lives. And raise money for charity.

All the jaffas were bred in captivity at the local chocolate factory and each one was numbered for the race. It cost its owner the princely sum of one Kiwi dollar. As there were 3 races all up at the Jaffa Racing Carnival, the jaffas wore different coloured jackets depending on which race they were entered in.

Baldwin Street incidentally has the dubious honour of being the steepest street in the world (according to the Guinness Book of Records at least).

9. Afghan Biscuits – Crunchy chocolate delight

Afghan Biscuits

The first recorded recipe of Afghan biscuits as we know them today appeared in the Edmonds Cookery Book in the 1940s. Unfortunately, the authors did not provide an explanation of the name or source of the recipe.

Needless to say, there are a few theories about the name. One is that the biscuit supposedly resembles the Afghanistan sandy, mountainous landscape.

It may also have been associated with British and New Zealand forces in the Anglo-Afghan wars or during the First World War. Or it could be a clue about the origins of the recipe itself.

Regardless, the classic biscuit, made from flour, butter, cornflakes, sugar and cocoa powder, topped with a dollop of luscious chocolate icing and a walnut, is a firm Kiwi favourite. They have a buttery texture and flavour, juxtaposed with the rich chocolate flavour and icing.

Don’t forget to order one with your morning, or afternoon, cuppa.

10. Pāua Fritters – Gourmet seafood treat

 

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Pāua (you would know it as ormer or abalone) is a highly prized seafood delicacy in New Zealand. The vibrant blue-green shell is also widely used in jewellery and ornaments.

The meat is particularly popular when made into a fritter. Finely chopped meat is mixed with an egg and flour batter, and then fried to crispy, crunchy golden perfection.

The result is a fritter redolent with the distinctly rich flavour of the Pāua. They are delicious either eaten on their own, or served with a fresh bread. A must try, particularly for seafood lovers.

11. Māori Bread (Rewena Bread) – Traditional and tasty

Māori Bread

Māori bread, or Rewena bread, is a traditional type of sourdough potato bread, popular in Maori cuisine and widely adopted by Kiwis in general. It has a long tradition in New Zealand’s culinary history.

The bread is made from a fermented potato starter. This gives it a distinct slightly sweet flavour and lovely soft texture. It is a perfect side dish for a hearty meal, like a casserole or stew.

12. Colonial Goose – A festive lamb dish

This dish harks back to New Zealand’s early colonial days when European settlers had to settle for something other than the traditional Christmas roast goose. They decided on lamb, which was in plentiful supply thanks to early livestock breeding programmes.

The name is obviously a humorous reference to this ‘make do’ substitution, a clear example of Kiwi ingenuity and resourcefulness.

However, the lamb is given the same reverent treatment as the traditional Christmas bird, so is not your ordinary roast lamb! Rather, like the real deal, it is stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, dried fruits, and herbs, and roasted to perfection.

13. Kiwi Burger – Unique twist on a classic fast food staple

The Kiwi Burger is one of those foods New Zealanders consider they’ve adapted enough to call their own.

Take one standard beef patty made from the finest New Zealand beef (of course). Top it with a slice of fresh creamy New Zealand cheese. Add a few other things, including beetroot, a fried egg, and perhaps a slice of pineapple and voila – the average global burger turns into one that has ‘Kiwi Burger’ stamped all over it.

Available from all reputable Kiwi hamburger joints if you’re interested in trying one!

14. Sausage Sizzle – Community staple and fund raiser extraordinaire

Sausage Sizzle (1)
The ubiquitous sausage sizzle is a staple at fundraisers and community events. Although you might sometimes get a hot dog instead, the true sausage sizzle is a sizzling grilled sausage served in a slice of bread. Onions are optional, and you have a choice of several topping sauces – tomato, barbeque, mustard and so on.

A more ‘upmarket’ less messy version swaps out the bread for a roll but either way the simple, tasty treat is a must-have addition to any outdoor community event. From sporting events to fairs, weekend markets, and outside large shops on weekends, the sausage sizzle is a familiar and welcome sight for parents with a brood of hungry offspring in toe!

15. Bluff Oysters – The cream of the crop

Bluff Oysters

It’s official – New Zealand’s Bluff oysters are among the best in the world. Their plump, creamy texture and rich flavour make them a prized gourmet delicacy, and one you simply must try when on their shores.

Bluff oysters grow in the cold waters of Foveaux Strait, a narrow stretch of water at the very southern tip of the South Island. The Strait, acknowledged as one of the roughest in the world, separates mainland New Zealand from Stewart Island.

Even if you don’t eat oysters, a trip to Invercargill and Bluff should rank highly on your itinerary. This is an area of great natural beauty and biodiversity, renowned for its marine mammals and seabirds. Many of these species are either threatened or endangered so some parts of the Strait, and areas along the South Island coast, are protected habitats.

Bluff oysters are often served on the half-shell with a squeeze of lemon, and can be enjoyed raw, grilled, or as part of a seafood dish

16. Lolly Cake – Colourful sinful Kiwi treatLolly Cake

Did we mention Kiwis seem to have a very sweet tooth?

Yet another sugary concoction makes our list of the 25 most popular foods in New Zealand. This time it’s the lolly cake (yes, there is such a thing in New Zealand). It’s also called a lolly log (more appropriate given its shape) and can be made as a slice too.

A lolly cake is made from crushed malt biscuits, soft colourful chopped lollies (often marshmallows or nougat type lollies), melted butter, and condensed milk. The sweet gooey dough is rolled into a log (or pressed into a slice) and coated in coconut then chilled before serving.

It’s a perennial favourite with kids, often taking pride of place at birthday parties. You’ll likely also see it served up wherever, and whenever, people with a sweet tooth, gather.

17. Whittaker’s Chocolate – A Must Try For Chocolate Lovers

Whittacker's chocolate

This is some seriously fine chocolate. Even fussy Europeans admit that it’s amazing and at Christmas, there’s the joy of the traditional Whittaker’s Sampler…an old-fashioned box of chocs which looks just like a sewing box!

They are the biggest chocolate brand in New Zealand and have been crafting their wonderful chocolate since 1896. They have so many delightful flavours to try out such as Coconut Block, Creamy Milk, Hazella and even Peanut Butter Jelly flavour.

All their products are made in their factory in New Zealand and are available in all supermarkets. If you are moving to New Zealand, and thinking you may miss Cadbury Chocolate, no need to worry when you have Whittakers!

18. Crayfish (Lobster) – Luxurious seafoodCrayfish (Lobster)

From Bluff oysters in the south to crayfish at Kaikoura, closer to the top of the South Island…

As befits a country where nowhere is very far from an ocean, we have another seafood delicacy on our list. New Zealand crayfish, particularly from the Kaikoura region, are a very popular dish with locals and visitors alike.

The sweet, tender crayfish meat can be enjoyed in various ways – grilled, boiled, or even as part of a luxurious seafood platter.

Kaikoura is renowned for its abundant and diverse marine life, including its wonderful crayfish. So again, even if you don’t like eating seafood, it’s well worth a visit just to see the fauna.

19. Anzac Biscuits – A tale of two countriesAnzac Biscuits

Anzac biscuits make the list of top foods in both New Zealand and Australia. They are a patriotic symbol of the heroism displayed by Australian and New Zealand soldiers during World War I, most notably at Gallipoli.

There are several stories about how Anzac biscuits came to be. One version is that they were originally called Soldier’s biscuits because they last for ages. This made them ideal for sending to soldiers overseas. After Gallipoli, they were renamed Anzac Crispies in New Zealand to honour the troops that fought there before morphing into the Anzac biscuit we have today.

Another version is that they were sold at home during the war to raise funds for the war effort. The ingredients were readily available, even during wartime, and the biscuits themselves easy to make.

Today, the simple rolled oat biscuit is still easy to make and a firm favourite around Anzac Day (April 25th).

20. Kiwi Meat Pie – Ultimate comfort food classicNew Zealand-Meat-Pies

Filled with savoury minced New Zealand meat and gooey New Zealand cheese in a flaky pastry shell, it’s the perfect snack or meal on the go. You’ll never get bored eating it either because every bakery in the country has its own version. But they all share the same key quality. Rich, hearty, filling, and satisfying!

21. Fish and Chips – Firm beachside and takeaway favourite

Fish and Chips

If you ever want to hear the Kiwi accent in full swing, talk to them about ‘fush and chups’. Their unusual way of saying ‘i’ is instantly identifiable, and a source of friendly ribbing from Aussie mates.

Almost every country has some type of fish and chips meal. The Kiwi version though often features fresh local fish like snapper or terakihi. The latter, is also called the deep-sea perch is particularly prevalent in the waters around New Zealand.

Kiwis love their Fish and Chips with a squeeze of lemon and generous dollop of tomato sauce! In fact, they love it so much it muscles out all other types of takeaways foods to reign supreme at the top of the ‘Most Popular Takeaways’ list.

22. Pineapple Lumps – Chewy pineapple chocolate treat

New Zealanders may raise their eyebrows at the thought of pineapple on their pavs (more common on Aussie pavs) but they are nonetheless the inventors of the pineapple lump.

Pineapple lumps have a chewy pineapple-flavoured centre coated in dark chocolate. Now who would have thought such a combination would take on Kiwiana status but it has! Indeed, it has overtaken its parent sweet, the chocolate fish, in the popularity stakes.

So, whilst pineapple may not belong on a true Kiwi pav, there’s no denying the deliciousness of a Kiwi pineapple lump! As for how it came to be…

23. Chocolate Fish – Marshmallow chocolate delightChocolate Fish (2) (1)

How one iconic Kiwi lolly spawned another, literally!

If you’ve done a favour for a Kiwi friend, expect to be thanked with a chocolate fish. The chocolate covered, fish-shaped pieces of flavoured marshmallow are a common Kiwi reward or treat, or just simply a fun, edible gift.

Now for the interesting part of this fishy tale – chocolate fish predate pineapple lumps. However, the manufacturer noticed that pineapple flavoured fish seemed to create the most marshmallow waste. So, in a classic case of ‘waste not, want not’, they covered the scrap pieces of pineapple flavoured marshmallow in chocolate and the rest, as they say, is Kiwiana history.

24. Seafood Chowder – A Hearty Bowl of ComfortSeafood Chowder

With such a rich seafood culture, it’s hardly surprising that another seafood dish makes our top 25 Kiwi must try list.

This time it’s an excellent seafood chowder, a creamy soup filled with fresh fish, mussels, prawns, and often a dash of white wine. Great for warming the soul, and perfect for a cold New Zealand day.

It’s a staple at coastal restaurants and cafes, where the freshest catch is often used to create this comforting bowl of Kiwi goodness.

25. Lemon & Paeroa – Iconic Kiwiana soft drink

 

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Last but not least, we leave you with a favourite Kiwi soft drink that has also joined the Kiwiana ranks.

You could think of lemon & paeroa as a regional take on other popular fizzy lemon drinks, but L&P’s point of difference is that it uses carbonated mineral water from the town of Paeroa. This, it is claimed, is what gives the iconic Kiwi beverage its unique and refreshing flavour, quite distinct from other fizzy lemon drinks.

Are they right? Give it a try and let us know…

Which Kiwi Treats Makes Your ‘Must Have Again’ List?

From popular Kiwiana treats to gourmet cuisine, with the odd Kiwi take on a popular take away, New Zealand has a veritable bounty of gastronomic delights that are sure to delight your taste buds.

Her rich volcanic soils have spawned a diverse agricultural industry and the surrounding oceans are teaming with seafood. Combined, they produce a unique culinary scene quite unlike most other places.

Whether you’re planning to make a permanent move to New Zealand or simply want to visit, our advice is ‘make the most of the opportunity’.  New Zealand’s food is seriously delicious, not all that strange to the palate on the whole, and well worth trying.

Moving to New Zealand permanently? Contact us for help with your relocation needs. In particular, check our shipping to New Zealand guide for rules and regulations about what you can and can’t take into the country with you.

 

Photo Credits:

DO’Neil, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons