It is often said that New Zealand has no traditional food because of its lack of food culture or comparably short history. However, it is misunderstanding about New Zealand, especially considering Kiwi(New Zealander)’s passion towards cooking. In New Zealand, the bestseller display corner of bookshops are often occupied by the cookery books, cooking show is always popular on TV, and cooking is taught in schools as a part of education on regular basis. Most Kiwis are used to cooking by themselves, and thus they are interested in numerous recipes, which makes their dinner table more fabulous.
Though the history of New Zealand is not long, they have their own food for sure. New Zealanders, who are consisted of native Maori people and immigrants from all over the world, accepted variety of food culture from their origin, collaborated those and made it their way, which is ‘Kiwi way’. So even though you are from England, where fish and chips are born, there is no reason not to try ‘Kiwi version’ fish and chips! So here are my recommendation for top 10 food that you must try while you are visiting in New Zealand.
Hangi is Maori’s traditional food which is an assortment of steamed vegetables and meat. The kind of meat varies, from chicken, beef to pork. The most essential vegetable is ‘kumara’, which means sweet potato in Maroi (Term Kumara is used in NZ widely). Potato, corn, and other vegetables can be added, accordingly.
To make Hangi, traditionally people have to dig up the pit in the ground and put the hot stone in it which is heated up by geothermal heat. The ingredients are put on the stone wrapped in or encased in the basket or leaves. And they put the soil on top so the heat doesn’t escape. After few hours, the ingredients are steamed and after digging up, people split onto their plates.
Hangi is traditional Maori culture which is becoming extinct. As described above, the process of making Hangi is pretty complicated and modern oven and stove took over the traditional pit. Now in New Zealand, there are not many places left that you can try this. When i was travelling in New Zealand, I have seen Hangi only in Rotorua. Rotorua is a city in North Island is a geothermal area, where you can enjoy maori culture villages in addition to spa and lots of unique natural wonders. Therefore, trying Hangi would be a must do experience when you visit Rotorua!
You can book in advance for Hangi experience at I-site (information center of NZ) in Rotorua. I recommend trying it because Hangi is not only just food but also Maori’s tradition which should be preserved for its value.
9. Fish and chips
Fish and Chips is a traditional British food, which refers to the combination of fried potatoes and fried fish, which is usually cod or sole, battered with flour, egg, etc. However, the tradition of fish and chips moved over the sea when many immigrants from the Britain came to New Zealand. Basically, it is same food but there are variations of types of fish they use, the way they call it, and the way they eat it.
Fish and chips is sometimes called as ‘Sharks and greasies’ in New Zealand slang. It is because sharks are common around New Zealand ocean area and it is used for fish and chips. And not only with salt and malt vinegar, New Zealanders enjoy eating it with tomato sauce. If you come to New Zealand, you should enjoy lovely picnic at a park with a fresh fried fish and chips added with tomato sauce. Oh! don’t forget having a sip of L&P together, a New Zealand sparkling lemon fizzy drink(soda) which is a fantastic combination with fish and chips!
8. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream
Hokey Pokey is a vanilla ice-cream with small honeycomb toffees in it. It is New Zealand traditional, NZ special flavor icecream which is commonly seen in supermarkets. If you are looking for some ‘sweet’ New Zealand food, definitely hokey pokey should be tried! It is only 4~6nzd for 2L icecream, which is a fantastic deal! However, if you are not keen to have that bulk icecream, try dairy shops, which is a small supermarket that sells snacks, newspapers, and icecream in a scoop.
There are many icecream brands in New Zealand such as Tip Top, Much Moore, Pams, Value, etc. those brands all have Hokey Pokey flavour because it is common icecream flavour here. If you have to choose only one, I recommend trying Tip Top since it is the biggest ice-cream company in New Zealand that has a long history, and simply it is so good!
Venison is a kind of deer meat which is not common in other countries. Well, if you are from Northern Europe, deer meat might be familiar -I saw it travelling in Norway.- However, it is not that common in my country so when I first heard that there is deer meat in New Zealand, I was pretty shocked. (Well, many people will be more shocked about dog meat of South Korea, where I came from. However, it is not common food at all in Korea and I have never seen it while I have been living there for over 20 years.) In New Zealand, venison used to be hunted in the wild in the past but it is raised in the farm for meat just like lambs and cows.
Venison can be found easily in supermarkets(Paknsave, Countdown, New World), restaurants, and cafes. Usually it is made into a burger pattie, meatpie or steak. It doesn’t have much fat in it and has quite unique flavor. If you visit New Zealand, if will be a good experience to try venison. (Let’s try not to think about Bambi if you are going to try it. Actually the name of venison burger in Fergburger, a legendary hamburger shop in Queenstown is ‘Bambi Burger’.)
Flatwhite is the most popular coffee in New Zealand. Kiwis enjoy flatwhite instead of Latte or Cappuccino. What is the difference? While Cappuccino is made with 1/3 espresso shot added with steamed milk and milk foam, Latte and Flatwhite is made of 2 espresso shots. On top of the espresso shot, if the steamed milk and foam is put abundantly, it is latte, whereas microfoamed milk is put flatways in flatwhite. Flatwhite is a good way to wake your morning while you are staying in New Zealand. Go to a cafe, and enjoy flatwhite enjoying the beautiful view out of the window.
There are several fruits that I have first tried in my life after coming to New Zealand. Boysenberry is one of those, and it is very common fruit flavor here! Boysenberry is a mixed species of Rasberry, Blackberry, Loganberry. Its color, which is blueish, purple, redish, is beautiful to see which is perfect for decorating your dessert. It contains lots of vitamin and tastes sweet and sour. New Zealand is the biggest producer of boysenberry in this world and exporting it worldwide. On season, it is recommended to try fresh berries and if it is not, there are various products using boysenberry, such as yogurt, icecream. I personally love boysenberry icecream and it is also lovely to have fresh or frozen(after defrost) boysenberry on top of your pancake!
Marmite is a salty jam, which is the expression that my kiwi friends detest, since it is not just salty jam for them! It is a yeast spread, which contains lots of vitamin B and folate. It is made in England first time but the Sanitorium is Kiwi company that made kiwi version Marmite. Kiwis love spreading Marmite on the toasted bread or cracker. However, I don’t like this. I and my kiwi flatmates often have silly jokes about Marmite because it is the item that shows how different food preference we have. Therefore, I recommend you to try this to test if your tongue is more like Kiwi tongue or Korean tongue. If you like it, you are eligible to enjoy almost all New Zealand food staying in New Zealand while you might struggle with spicy Korean food.
Anyway there is a similar product called Vegemite which is an Australian product. According to my kiwi flatmates, it has totally different flavour. If you like Marmite, try Vegemite too to figure out which one is your type.
3. Anzac Biscuit
Anzac Biscuit is New Zealand and Australian traditional cookie. It is related to Anzac day, which is a day commemorating the war-veterans in First World War. During the war-time, for the soldiers, women made this cookie, which doesn’t go bad easily and gives energy back. Anzac Biscuit is often called ‘rock-hard biscuit’ because it is not moist at all. It is because it doesn’t contain egg unlike other biscuits. During wartime, egg was in scarcity. So this biscuit has sad background of its birth, however, it is now made in kiwi homes for the dessert, snacks as a kiwi special.
Pavlova is a popular NZ dessert, especially made in special day such as Christmas. In 1920’s, Anna Pavlova, who was a famous Russian Ballerina, visited Australia and New Zealand. At that time, this desert was made for her. It was controversial about the origin of this dessert however, according to the photographer of Anna Pavlova, a chef in a hotel in Wellington, New Zealand, made this dessert for her for the first time.
Pavlova is a white meringue cake which has crispy crust and moist inside. It is very delicious with fresh fruits and creams. Usually it is made and eaten on special days such as birthday and Christmas. I was invited to my Kiwi friends’ family gathering last Christmas and enjoyed homemade Pavlova very much. Just like its beautiful and elegant look, the taste of this dessert is also very lovely. Must try New Zealand food indeed!
1. Green Mussel
Green Mussel is a special product of New Zealand. It has very large flesh in the shell, when it is cooked it is very juicy. I have tried mussel all over the world, including Belgium, a place known for good mussel dishes. However, I found New Zealand green mussel is the best seafood I have ever had in my life! I have tried in several NZ restaurants and it is commonly cooked as an appetizer as a tomato soup but sometimes as a main dish grilled or baked in the oven. Whatever the cooking method is, it is fantastic without much spices or seasoning, only with the flavour itself. I recommend trying this for sure visiting New Zealand. New Zealand is surrounded by the ocean, which means fresh seafood is within a reach, and green mussel is the best of the best!
edgellplusone.com.au, jennytravellog.blogspot.com, blog.naver.com/eoyoujin