As a country, New Zealand may not be known for its cuisine, but that needs to change. While the beautiful nation is well-regarded for its rolling hills (which have notably inspired certain classic film franchises), there are plenty of amazing restaurants in New Zealand that serve up some truly incredible food. If you’re thinking about taking a trip to New Zealand in the near future and you’re worried that your gourmet palette won’t be satisfied, then worry no more. Here are the best foods to experience when you’re visiting New Zealand.
At first glance, kina doesn’t even look remotely edible. It’s a sea urchin that has a spiky outer shell, so it looks pretty off-putting, but it’s actually a New Zealand delicacy. You see, when you crack open that spiky shell, you get some tender, delicious flesh underneath, and you can cook that flesh for a unique and delectable taste. You can experience kina in New Zealand seafood and street markets all over the country, and you’ll also find it on quays and piers, so if you’re staying near the sea, give this one a try.
If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth and you’re looking for some great New Zealand candy, then look no further than Jaffas. These little hard, round balls are orange-flavoured confectionery (hence “Jaffa”) that also sport a sugared shell, and they’re utterly delicious. You won’t be able to eat just one of them, because the chocolate that surrounds the orange centre is delicious. Jaffas should be pretty easy to obtain no matter where you are in New Zealand, as they’re common in stores.
Naturally, you shouldn’t stay in New Zealand without trying traditional Māori food. Hāngī is essentially slow-cooked meat or vegetables, but the oven is stored underground, which gives the flavours more time to intermingle. Once upon a time, hāngī only consisted of fish and potatoes, but now, you’ll find all kinds of different meats, so you’ll be catered for no matter what your tastes might be. Make sure to head towards the north of New Zealand if you want to try this, as the southern Māori population is smaller.
There’s a good reason that manuka honey is expensive around the world. It’s one of New Zealand’s most famous exports, and you’ll often find it being used for medicine and other purposes outside of food. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t find opportunities to try it as a sweet snack, so make sure to seek it out. New Zealand has plenty of honey stores that will sell you high-quality manuka honey, and it’s well worth trying to get hold of some while you’re in the country.
New Zealand is an island nation, so it stands to reason that one of its biggest culinary exports would be crayfish. This shellfish can be highly expensive, but it’s worth paying the extra for high-quality food, so don’t settle for less! You’ll often find crayfish served battered alongside chips, baked in the oven, or grilled, and these are all delicious ways to prepare the fish. You will need something of a taste for the vulgar, though, because there’s no delicate way to eat crayfish; you’ll need to get in there with your hands.
Don’t worry – chocolate fish aren’t anywhere near as disgusting as they sound. Actually, they’re a rather tasty little sweet snack that, just like Jaffas, you can find pretty much anywhere you care to mention in New Zealand. Chocolate fish consist of a marshmallow centre surrounded by a chocolate coating, and they’re excellent. They might not count as “traditional” New Zealand food, but they are enjoyed up and down the country nonetheless!
Fish and chips
You might think of fish and chips as a UK delicacy, but the fact is that this food is enjoyed all over the world, and nowhere is it more loved than New Zealand (except, perhaps, good ol’ Blighty). You’ll find all kinds of fish available cooked in the most delicious batter; New Zealand is a nation with a strong fishing economy, so there will always be plenty of seafood to avail yourself of. The chips are fluffy and crisp, too, so what are you waiting for?
Hokey pokey ice cream
In essence, hokey pokey ice cream is pretty simple; it’s just standard vanilla ice cream shot through with pieces of honeycomb. However, you’d be amazed at just how effectively those extra pieces completely transform the ice cream and make it even more delicious. Make sure to get hokey pokey from a proper ice cream retailer if you can; find one of New Zealand’s dairies and get it from there, as the experience of eating real hokey pokey is unmatched.
The Australians are convinced that they’re the originators of the pavlova, but it’s arguably just as much of a New Zealand dish as it is an Aussie one. This traditional Australasian dessert is enjoyed up and down New Zealand, but it’s more commonly known as a Christmas delicacy, so if you want the best pavlova around, head to New Zealand during the month of December. Pavlova is a very simple dish, but it’s absolutely worth experiencing the New Zealand version of it.
The Kiwi burger does not actually have any kiwi in it. Rather, the word “kiwi” is a reference to the demonym for New Zealanders, and the burger itself is often found in restaurants around the country, including fast food joints like McDonald’s. So, what makes a burger a “kiwi burger”? Simple: it contains beetroot and a fried egg as well as the other classic burger ingredients you’ll find in most burgers. It’s well worth a go, as it’s more delicious than it sounds!