What to eat in New Zealand: Food tips from the travel community

When traveling to an unfamiliar city or a new country, locals and/or other travelers are often the best sources for recommendations on iconic or “must try” foods.  While some countries’ cuisines are immediately recognizable, others can be a melting pot of culinary influences.  Unless you are spending months traveling a particular location, getting assistance in formulating your “culinary gameplan” can be crucial.

New Zealand is a country that has numerous culinary influences, stemming from its varied cultural history.  Much of the cuisine was historically British-based with definite Pacific Rim influences, but now, New Zealand is becoming known for its “cosmopolitan” dining scene with countless ethnic influences present.  What does that mean?  For me, I’m imagining the culinary equivalent of Disneyland — definitely a destination to visit more than once.

To better understand cuisine in New Zealand, I looked to some seasoned travelers for recommendations on iconic, or not to miss foods, and here’s what they had to say:

Kat from ThreeSixFive Travel Blog

Kat from ThreeSixFive is currently in New Zealand, winding down a year-long round the world trip.  She and Rob are traveling New Zealand by camper van, giving them a real advantage on checking out the lay of the land.

One of her recommendations is to try the local fish and chips.  As Kat points out, although the locals refer to them as “real kiwi feed”, she gives a nod back to the British for this tasty find.

Another one of her favorite finds in New Zealand is the Fergburger in Queenstown.  What started out as a hole-in-the-wall joint has earned quite a following from burger lovers all over the world.  Their fun website and creative menu names already made me a fan!

Some of the unique offerings on Fergburger’s menu include “Tropical Swine” featuring New Zealand beef, American streaky bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, aioli & tomato relish.  For non-meat eaters, they have the “Holier than Thou” which is tempured tofu with a spicy satay, coconut, and coriander sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber, snow pea shoots, and aioli.  You can always throw caution to the wind and try the “Big Al” that is a 1/2 lb double serving of prime New Zealand beef, lashings of bacon, a whole lotta cheese, 2 eggs, beetroot, lettuce, tomato, red onion, relish, and a big wad of aioli.  Whew!

If you aren’t salivating just yet, Kat was kind enough to share a picture of Rob chowing down on a Fergburger!


Rob enjoying his Fergburger!

Rebecca from Travels at 88mph

Rebecca lives in Southern California, but spent two years living and traveling in New Zealand from 2007 to 2009.  She has a real fondness for the country and suggests you check out pies, Tim Tams, and hamburgers from Burger Fuel.

Pies are very common in Australia and New Zealand both and if you haven’t tried one — they are surprisingly delicious.  Similar to the U.K. version of the steak pie, meat pies in New Zealand are individual servings containing diced or minced meat and gravy.  Other ingredients may vary, so look for options like onions, mushrooms, or even cheese.  Much like the Pavlova dessert, meat pies are considered an important part of traditional New Zealand cuisine.

Tim Tams are chocolate malted biscuits with a light cream filling and a layer of textured chocolate.  They have found their way outside of New Zealand and Australia in recent years, which means if you need a Tim Tam fix after you leave, you might be able to find them in the United States, Canada, and even certain parts of Asia.


Tim Tams from New Zealand

Andy from Sharing Travel Experiences

If you haven’t interacted with Andy yet, you are definitely missing out.  He’s a travel blogger extraordinaire and a social media icon, but his engaging personality and generous nature make him one of the most approachable writers out there.  His online travel magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences, is filled with useful culinary resources so I couldn’t imagine putting this post together without his input.

Andy recommended trying New Zealand’s signature ice cream — hokey pokey.  A fairly simple ice cream, hokey pokey consists of plain vanilla ice cream with pieces of toffee (known as hokey pokey in New Zealand).  It is the second most popular flavor in New Zealand (behind vanilla) and has earned a spot as one of the country’s signature foods.  While vanilla ice cream with toffee is not a concept confined to New Zealand, locals are very passionate about hokey pokey and declare its unique flavor that sets it apart from regular “toffee vanilla” ice cream found elsewhere in the world.  Apparently, the secret advantage is the consistency of the toffee used to make hokey pokey…sssssh!

Andy suggests trying the hokey pokey ice cream in Hokitika (on the west coast) where it is made fresh daily.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember the name of the ice cream shop, but said it’s the only one in town, so everyone knows where it is.

New Zealand Hokey Pokey Ice Cream exported to Japan

Stephanie from Twitter

A personal friend and professional colleague, Stephanie has childhood ties to New Zealand and recommends travelers should try the local breakfast sausage.  She said they are unlike anything she’s ever had elsewhere so definitely worth a try!

New Zealand sausages have been compared to English bangers.  They are typically made using mutton or ground beef, mixed with bread crumbs and packed into a sheep casing that helps the sausage crisp and split when fried, much like bangers.

To get an idea of what sausages are available in New Zealand, check out Hellers NZ’s Butcher, a local and well-known family-owned butcher.

Andrea and John from Inspiring Travellers

Who would’ve thought a few simple food tweets would’ve led us to finding these two exciting travelers and bloggers?  Andrea and John run Inspiring Travellers and recently embarked on the start of their round the world adventure, which included a three month visit to New Zealand.  Andrea has an entire post devoted to their foodie finds in Queenstown that is definitely worthy of a salivating look.

For those looking for something to wash down all these delectable dishes with, John has a series of “Bungas’s Beer of the Week” posts that chronicle some of the craft beers he sought out and tried in New Zealand.  Be sure to follow their blog as both Andrea and John continue to post updates and helpful information about their travels in New Zealand.

Have you tried any of these food suggestions?  What are your recommendations on New Zealand’s best eats and “must try” foods?

This post is part of the #Blog4NZ event taking place March 21-23. Please help this worthy cause and support tourism to New Zealand — share this post across your social networks and let others know New Zealand is open for business!

[Additional photo credits: Lakeyboy, Wiki Commons]

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