New Zealand is world famous for its delicious meats, beautifully cut steaks and its culinary standards. So, if you do make a trip to New Zealand it will be incomplete until you try the traditional food in New Zealand – it’s almost like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower! Maori culture has played a big role in shaping the traditional palette of New Zealand which is why kiwi, shellfish and hangi food constitute a big part of the traditional food in New Zealand. Whether you want to be in seafood heaven, a magical land where the meat is so tender that it falls off the bone or a place where kiwi burgers actually exist. New Zealand can provide this and more. Check out our list for a diverse range of traditional food New Zealand has to offer.
1. The kiwi burger
Despite what the name suggests, a kiwi burger has your basic toasted buns between which lies a juicy beef patty, a fried egg, beetroot and the regular stuff like tomato, lettuce, cheese, mustard, and ketchup. While this “kiwi burger” is made using both beetroot and fried eggs, it may not seem like it will excite your taste buds, but it is one of the most famous, locally loved and traditional dishes of New Zealand! It’s so famous, even Mc Donald’s has it on their menu. If you happen to visit Auckland and you’re craving a delicious kiwi burger in the wee hours of the morning, stop by The White Lady – it’s a big white food truck, is almost impossible to miss.
The White Lady
Address: Corner Commerce Street &, Fort St, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday: 7pm-4am; 24 hrs Friday through Monday
2. Traditional Maori hangi food
Hangi was a very common method of cooking used by the Maori community thousands of years ago. Meats like pork, beef, lamb, sheep, and chicken were mixed with vegetables and placed in cloth sacks, baskets and aluminum foil. These baskets are then placed on top of hot stones at the bottom of a small pit, covered by a wet cloth and some mud to prevent any heat from escaping, left to cook for three to four hours and then taken out. The reason this method of hangi cooking is considered to be one of the best traditional foods in New Zealand is that the meat falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Take a trip to the region of Rotorua to try this local and traditional delicacy.
Tamaki Maori Village
Address: Tamaki Maori Village, Highlands Loop Road, Ngakuru, Rotorua, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Open all week, 9am – 7pm
Kina is a type of local sea urchin; yes you guessed it, it has a spiky exterior and some thin delicious meat inside. This local sea urchin has been a delicacy for centuries making it one of the oldest traditional foods in New Zealand. If you have never had Kina before just think of it as a spiky oyster – eat it raw, slurp it in and enjoy the taste. A fun fact, the Kina is also known as the hedgehog of the sea. But unlike most hedgehogs, it is easily available throughout New Zealand and can be bought at the local fish market.
Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market
Address: 1 Dive Crescent | Bay of Plenty, Tauranga 3110, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Open all week, 8am – 7pm
4. Fish and Chips
Even though it might be inspired by the British, fish and chips is one of the best-loved foods of New Zealand. If you buy it from the local shops, it’ll be nicely wrapped in paper and served piping hot. You can pick up this delicious little dish and have a little picnic on the beach or even eat it on the go. Usually, the fish served is snapper, kohi or terakihi. After all, who doesn’t like some good old batter fried fish served with hot and fresh french fries?
Opunake Fish, Chips and More
Address: 61 Tasman Street, Opunake, New Zealand 4616
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-8pm, Sunday 12pm-8pm
Jaffa is the most famous confectionery in New Zealand. Jaffas are basically sugar-coated chocolate balls with a tinge of orange. You can find Jaffa at most supermarkets and department stores. These chocolate balls are so famous that New Zealand even hosts Jaffa races. The Jaffa balls are rolled down Baldwin Street i.e. the steepest residential hill in the world. These races take place in July every year, don’t miss it if you are in New Zealand then!
Address: 173 Dyers Rd, Bromley, Christchurch 8062, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am-5:30pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
6. Mince pie
While the mince pie might be a British invention, it has taken over New Zealand by storm. As per The Great New Zealand Pie Guide (isn’t that enough to show their love for mince pie?), on an average a person consumes 15 pies in a year! This is one of the most common takeaway foods, so be sure to get your hands on some before it sells out. This iconic pie contains minced meat, cheese, onions, gravy, mushrooms, and cheese. The Fast and Fresh Bakery won the title for the best pie in New Zealand in 2017, so why not give that a try?
Fast and Fresh Bakery Cafe
Address: 8 Horomatangi St, Taupo 3330, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Open all week, 6am – 4pm
If you’re a fan of Masterchef Australia then you’ll see how often pavlova is made on the show! But the best pavlova you’re ever going to try is available on the streets of New Zealand. This dessert is named after the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova and it is believed that this dessert was made in the honor of her dance. A pavlova is basically a meringue dessert which is topped with fruit and whipped cream. It’s soft, light, crispy, creamy and fruity – can a mouthful get tastier than that?
Address: 91 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell, Auckland 1052, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 6pm-12am, Sunday closed
8. Whitebait fritters
Whitebait fritters are traditional and very local to New Zealand. If you take a liking for it then whitebait fritters will definitely make it to your list of the best traditional foods in New Zealand! Whitebait is a term for immature fishes which are no longer than 1 to 2 inches in length. Yes, you guessed it, whitebait fritters is the combination of fried whitebait and egg. This unique dish is usually served with bread and a wedge of lemon. If you’re looking to try local food, this should be number 1 on your list.
Curly Tree Whitebait Company
Address: Waita River Reserve, SH6, Haast 7844, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Open all week, 10am – 5pm
9. Roast lamb
Considering that New Zealand has more sheep in the country than people, it is no surprise that the lamb there is surprisingly cheap. And, it is truly delicious. Typically, roasted lamb marinated in garlic and rosemary is traditional food in New Zealand, but even the lamb chops and lamb racks are worth a try. You will find tasty and succulent lamb at almost any restaurant you go to, so make sure you enjoy this tender meat at least once during your visit! The most famous lamb dish is the roast lamb served with some steamed vegetables.
Pedro’s House of Lamb
Address: 47 Gorge Rd, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Open all week, 12pm – 9pm
10. Lolly cake
If you’re a candy fan, then you’re going to love a lolly cake. This traditional New Zealand dessert is famous among children and adults alike. As the name suggests, the lolly cake is made from lollies, candies, marshmallows basically lots of candy! Other ingredients include malt biscuits, butter, and condensed milk – how can you ever go wrong with that? Fun fact, lolly cakes have been consumed in New Zealand as early as the 1940s. A lolly cake is a great snack with coffee!
Address: 40 Shotover St, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Opening Hours: Open all week, 6:30am – 4:30am