From fresh seafood delicacies to a creamy blend of honeycomb toffee ice cream goodness, there always seems to be something new to try in the Land of The Long White Cloud. Read on to discover your next mouth-watering addiction when venturing through the natural wonders of New Zealand!
When I think of New Zealand, the first thing that comes to mind is the ocean. Similarly, when I talk about its cuisine, I’m reminded of the freshest food (especially seafood) produced locally and enjoyed in the most natural settings. Although the country might not be world-famous for its culinary delights, there are certainly some hidden gems that Kiwis are proud to claim as their own. Why not try it out for yourselves on your next visit to the Land of the Long White Cloud? Read on for more!
Image Credits: PauaCo
Referring to New Zealand’s unique variety of Black Foot abalone, Paua is a seafood delicacy that every visitor must try. Belonging to the Haliotidae family, most might describe Paua as a herbivorous sea snail that clings to exposed boulders and feed on seaweed.
When cooked, the Paua gives off an incredible flavour like no other. Salty and rich, yet balanced with a subtle sweetness, the texture can be described as a combination of a scallop and calamari. There are several styles to enjoy this sea snail — from tasting its freshness raw to enjoying a minced dark green patty, you’ll definitely fall in love with this delicacy.
While you can find all forms of Paua in local restaurants, enjoy a special Paua Ravioli with coriander, basil, and lime beurre blanc at Logan Brown. Or take your tastebuds for a spin and sample Paua Pie with Manuka Smoked Potato at Amisfield!
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more about Paua here
2. Whitebait Fritters
Image Credits: Boulcott Street Bistro Restaurant
For those who are a fan of Ikan Bilis, you have to give these fritters a go! Whitebait is a collective term for immature fish, usually around a few inches long. While some might mistake these tiny fish for an albino version of the local Ikan Bilis, they come from completely different species and taste differently too.
Rolled in flour and pressed into an eggy batter, the omelettes made are savoury and remind one of Oyster Omelettes except with tiny fried fish. If consuming a fish omelette makes you squirmish, fear not as most Kiwis will tell you that whitebait does not actually have any flavour! Even eggs seem to overwhelm their taste. For the best Whitebait Fritters, head to Curly Tree Whitebait in Wakefield for their signature omelettes (and a little education on Whitebait catching)!
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more about Whitebait Fritters here
Image Credits: Culture Trip
Not forgetting some of the best in traditional Maori cooking, Hangi involves slow-cooking meat, vegetables, and seafood in an underground oven. Wrapped in mutton cloth, aluminium foil, and wire baskets, the Hangi is placed on hot stones at the bottom of a hole dug into the ground. The food’s covered with a wet cloth while a mound of dirt traps the heat from the stones.
Leaving the Hangi to cook for up to four hours results in tender meat and delicious vegetables infused with smoky and earthy flavours. While it might have been a common cooking method for hundreds of years in New Zealand, modern-day Hangi is usually saved for special occasions due to the amount of time and effort required to prepare the dish.
To experience Hangi and Maori culture at its finest, head down to Rotorua – a region rich in Maori culture and heritage. The geothermal properties of the area also mean that local tribes have a unique way of cooking this special dish — in natural thermal steam and water!
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more about Hangi here
4. Kiwi Burger
Image Credits: New Zealand Story
Introduced in 1976 by Bryan Old, the burger (that does not contain any kiwi, fruit, or bird) blew the minds of locals and has been adapted as the country’s national burger ever since.
Containing a juicy beef patty (I told you no kiwis were harmed!), a fried egg, beetroot, tomato, lettuce, cheese, onion, mustard, and tomato sauce on a toasted bun, the burger might scare visitors with its unique fillings. After all, it’s beetroot and fried egg in a burger! However, as a staple of New Zealand cuisine, it’s definitely something you have to experience at least once in your life. Most pubs and restaurants (even McDonald’s) serve a version of the Kiwi Burger. But the best has got to be at Fergburger in Queenstown.
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more on the Kiwi Burger here
Image Credits: Beck & Bulow
No matter where you go in New Zealand, you’ll always find lamb on the menu. As the country’s biggest export, there’s an oft-repeated statistic that the country has 4 million people and 40 million sheep.
One thing’s for certain, and that’s the fact that you just can’t find another dish in the world that beats the New Zealand Lamb Roast. While the nation has found other ways to incorporate the gamey meat into other cooking styles, the traditional Lamb Roast consists of tasty tender meat from grass-fed lamb that is slaughtered at a younger age. For an amazing roast, head down to Mokoia Restaurant in Rotorua or the Cashmere Lounge in Wellington!
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more about New Zealand Lamb here
6. Greenshell Mussels
Image Credits: Delectabilia
Native to the country, these green-lipped mussels are another fishy favourite you can delight in! Revered for their nutrient-rich density, these mussels are packed with minerals, essential amino acids, glycoproteins, and omega-3 fatty acids — EPA and DHA. Compared to their black-shelled counterparts, green-shelled mussels have more meat and boast a more savoury and naturally sweet flavour.
Harvested in the country, these mussels are prized for not overpowering dishes with that fishy seafood flavour as much as black mussels do. Chewy and firm when raw, while tender when steamed or pan-fried, these molluscs fit the palate of even the pickiest eater. In fact, these mussels are so good that they put the town of Havelock on the world map as the “Greenshell Mussel Capital”. Try The Mussell Pot in Havelock for a wide variety of mussel-based dishes perfectly suited for any weather!
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more about fresh New Zealand Greenshelled Mussels here
Image Credits: Flickr
When I say New Zealanders adore their seafood, I wasn’t kidding. Jumping onto another sea-based delight, we have the delicious Kina — the local name for a type of sea urchin.
Endemic to the country, this sea urchin produces a magnificent roe that’s traditionally eaten raw as sashimi but can also be smoked or used as a sauce for other dishes. New Zealand Kina has a hedgehog-like appearance with a fleshy orange-yellow roe. And at the end of its life, the sea urchin loses its spikes and leaves behind a beautiful green globe shell.
Lovers of Kina will describe the flavour as tasting like the sum of all seafood — rich, sweet, briny, creamy, and oceanic. For the freshest taste, try eating Kina straight off the coast with boating trips in the Bay of Islands or as sashimi in Kai Caff Aye in Rotorua.
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more about Kina here
Image Credits: New Zealand Story
As one of New Zealand’s official desserts, the Merengue Pavlova is a much-loved dessert that has been the topic of a feud as old as time.
Here’s a fun fact: According to Australians, the airy dessert made from a crisp meringue shell and topped with whipped cream and fruit comprises the essence of what it means to be Australian (and also that it was invented in a hotel in Perth). On the other hand, New Zealanders are quick to disagree, claiming the dessert was made by a Kiwi chef to honour the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova.
While this sibling rivalry has gone on for decades, both sides can agree that this dessert is especially fitting after a hearty meal. Usually served during Christmas in New Zealand, the Pavlova can be found in many restaurants, including Cibo in Auckland and Floriditas in Wellington.
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more about Pavlova here
Image Credits: The Guardian
A form of Guava native to South America (i.e. Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina), Feijoa was brought over to New Zealand in the 1920s where new varieties were developed. Resembling oval limes, this fruit has been compared to the flavour of Guavas or Quince. But locals say the actual taste is a mix of guava, strawberries, and pineapple with a pear-like texture.
High in fibre and rich in Vitamin C, the Feijoa is considered a superfood. They also contain folic acid, which is great for pregnant mothers, as well as potassium, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. However, too much of a good thing might not necessarily be good as having too many Feijoas might lead to a long bathroom marathon!
In New Zealand, this little fruit has infused everything from confectionary to ice cream and even vodka. Supermarkets all over the country will sell these when they’re in season from March to June. While New Zealanders usually eat them similarly to how they eat Kiwis — by using a spoon to scoop out the sweet delicious flesh inside.
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more about Feijoas here
10. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream
Image Credits: Ice Cream Daily
Rounding off the list, we have a delicious sweet treat that’s bound to knock your socks off! Hokey pokey is a New Zealander ice cream variety consisting of vanilla ice cream with lumps of honeycomb toffee dispersed throughout.
A summer staple, this ice cream can be found all over the country, with the best at Giapo in Auckland. As an iconic flavour of the Kiwi culture, Giapo serves a heaping scoop of Hokey Pokey ice cream on a cone before dunking the whole thing into milk chocolate. Imagine eating this refreshing treat in the hot summer heat, there’s just nothing quite like it.
YouTrip’s New Zealand Food Guide: Find out more on where to eat Hokey Pokey Ice Cream here
Ready To Embark On Your New Zealand Food Adventure?
And there you have it! Now that you’re equipped with a guide on scrumptious must-try dishes in New Zealand, you’re ready to eat like a Kiwi in the Land of The Long White Cloud. Whether you’re investing all your money in Hokey Pokey Ice Cream or booking those flight tickets, don’t forget to make use of your YouTrip Card to lock in those wholesale exchange rates and skip those pesky bank fees.
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