Kia Ora food lovers! 7 much-loved Kiwi gourmet delights to try on your next trip to New Zealand

TD Editor

Food and travel go hand in hand, of that there is no doubt. And if you’re a foodie, you cannot miss these delightful and delicious treats when you are in New Zealand. Be it crayfish and seafood, the famed New Zealand lamb, or the Hāngī (food cooked under the ground), Kiwis love their food, and to ‘feed’ their guests. It is no hidden secret that people of this island nation, embody hospitality naturally! So now, coming to the top experiences, we bring the to-do list for food lovers when in New Zealand.

Kaimoana: Slay it with cray and more

New Zealand’s seafood is world famous. When you travel to this country, ensure that the rich crayfish, succulent king salmon and tasty green-lipped mussels are on your table to enjoy. The list cannot be complete without mentioning the most exciting and tempting dishes the restaurants here offer. The most exciting thing about the seafood in New Zealand is that you can often collect it and prepare it yourself. Seafood is in ready supply in NZ as being an island nation, most cities are relatively close to the water. Whether it’s whitebait, green-lipped mussels, bluff oysters, kōura (crayfish), paua, or salmon, you’ll surely find something delicious to enjoy.

New Zealand lamb

Succulent and tender, roast lamb is a favourite for Kiwi’s. The quality of lamb in New Zealand is highly reputed throughout the world, and is one of the country’s top export meats. Best enjoyed flavoured with rosemary and served alongside plenty of seasonal roasted vegetables, roast lamb is a meal one cannot miss. Most restaurants in the country have lamb featured on top of their menus. The South Island provides the country’s most significant exports of lamb, beef, and venison. Today, NZ lamb is available in restaurants of Europe and America, but trying the succulent meat at the source, is worthy. So, do not miss out on the delicious local lamb when  you are in New Zealand.

Pies galore

Some of the best pies in the world are made by local bakers of New Zealand. Here a (meat) pie is a hand-sized pie containing diced or minced meat and gravy, sometimes with onion, mushrooms, or cheese and often consumed as a takeaway food snack. This variant of the standard meat pie is considered iconic. Traditionally, the only available pie flavour would have been mince. Today, pie flavours in New Zealand are only limited by the imagination of the baker. Always encrusted in a buttery flaky pastry and often served in a brown paper bag, it’s easy to find a good pie in New Zealand. Be sure to try ‘hāngī’ in a pie’ or a creamed pāua pie. Bacon and egg, steak and cheese and potato-top pies are Kiwi classics. However, salmon and bacon, butter chicken, bacon and egg, lamb and mint and venison pies are award-winners at the annual New Zealand pie awards.

Hāngī – food cooked under the ground

Māori hāngī is special, very unique and traditional earth oven style of cooking, exclusive to New Zealand. Now saved mainly for special occasions, foods cooked in a hāngī include chicken, pork and mutton, as well as pumpkin, potato and kumara (sweet potato). Hāngī was traditionally wrapped in flax leaves, but a modern Hāngī is more likely to use mutton cloth, aluminium foil and wire baskets. One of the best places to enjoy this cultural feast is Rotorua, in the central North Island, where you can also taste food that has been steam-cooked in naturally heated geothermal pools. You might also get to savour a delicious hāngī-steamed pudding for dessert.

Fresh and fruity

Kiwis are passionate about good ice-cream, be sure to try hokey pokey (creamy vanilla ice cream with tiny balls of crunchy honeycomb).  New Zealanders also love pavlova. A meringue-based dessert that’s topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, pavlova is a permanent fixture at the Christmas table. For something a bit healthier, try some New Zealand stone fruit or a fruit salad featuring delicious kiwifruit, feijoas and passionfruit.

Say cheese

New Zealand has several world-class cheese companies, and we have our striving dairy industry to thank. But, its not just cows milk used to make artisan cheese. Sheep and goat milk cheeses are also common. Famous for blue cheese, sharp vintages and creamy soft cheeses, Kāpiti Cheese, Whitestone and Puhoi Valley are New Zealand made favourites. There are many boutique cheese companies in New Zealand. Relax with cheese-tastings at The Cheese Barn and the Gibbston Valley Cheesery & Deli.

Drink and be merry

New Zealand is famous for its fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc and the affordable Pinot Noir wines. When in NZ, enjoy full-bodied pinot noir, light and fruity sauvignon blanc and the deep, peppery flavours of a New Zealand syrah. Today, New Zealand is most well known internationally for red wines made from traditional French varieties. After Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir has become New Zealand’s second most planted variety. Similarly, craft beer breweries are gaining popularity here. These beers are made by locals with a passion for beer for those who love drinking beer. The country is a beer-making nation with around 150 commercial breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs. Beer accounts for around 60% of alcohol for sale in NZ.

New Zealand is blessed by mother nature with incredible beauty. the endless waterfalls, majestic fjords, snow-capped peaks, the list goes on. However, a trip to this enchanting island nation remains incomplete without experiencing these delicacies, at one of the most sought-after travel destinations.

With COVID-19 cases tapering down, New Zealand has eased restrictions on tourism and travel.

Travellers from visa-waiver countries and those with valid visitor visas who meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirements, can travel to New Zealand. Most travellers are required to complete two RATs tests after arriving. Travellers from Samoa, American Samoa, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands are required to carry out two COVID-19 tests after arriving in New Zealand.

Travellers flying into New Zealand need to apply for and receive a travel pass through the New Zealand Traveller Declaration website, before boarding their aircraft. Declarations already made through the Nau Mai Rā website will no longer be accepted, travellers in this group should reapply for their travel pass through the New Zealander Traveller Declaration site.

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