What to eat in New Zealand
Food, glorious food. From the mighty bratwurst to the humble fish and chips, each country has its own defining dishes. Personality traits, customs and quirks all served up on a plate for travellers to enjoy. New Zealand is no different, and we've got a list of the light bites and home comforts that'll remind any Kiwi of home.
Hāngī is an authentic Māori cooking method that uses steam to cook chicken, beef, pork, potatoes, and root vegetables. It's sometimes thought of as an 'earth oven', and it's easy to see why. The food gets wrapped in leaves and placed in a basket, which is then placed on top of heated stones inside a deep pit. The result is a unique smoky taste, and this way of cooking has become a traditional treat for New Zealanders, especially during celebrations like Christmas.
Georgie Pie was the independent fast-food chain that dared to dream, and for New Zealanders over a certain age, it's an emblem of childhood. At its peak, there were over 30 restaurants across New Zealand. They sold a wide range of pie flavours that became a feel-good favourite. The most popular Georgie Pie was the Steak Mince 'N' Cheese pie. All good things come to an end and the original Georgie Pie franchise closed its doors for the last time in 1998…
… only to be brought back by McDonalds in 2013. The original recipe is used so if you want a taste of New Zealand history, take a bite out of a Georgie Pie.
Based in Porirua, New Zealand, this family business has been hitting the sweet spot for Kiwis since 1896. Promising ingredients sourced directly from New Zealand's finest artisan producers, the chocolate is world-class and any native New Zealanders living abroad would probably expect friends and family to bring them some over in their cases.
These shellfish are unique to New Zealand and are considered a delicacy. Starting out as a Māori tradition, eating tuatua is now commonplace for New Zealanders, with restaurants serving them up as chowders or fritters. If you want to cook up a batch yourself – and you'll see people doing just that - head to the water's edge and collect some by digging into the shallow water. Take them somewhere to boil them up and you've got yourself some homemade New Zealand delicacies!
You should check the rules on how much you can take though – depending on where you are there might be some daily limits set. After all, everyone deserves to taste the Tuatua; you can't hog them all.
Hokey Pokey Ice Cream
Not to be confused with the Hokey Cokey dance, this Hokey Pokey will have your tastebuds dancing. A childhood favourite for Kiwi kids – and let's be honest, the adults too – the Hokey Pokey is a vanilla ice cream mixed with caramelised balls of sugar. It's sold at most supermarkets and anywhere that does ice cream, so you shouldn't find it too hard to get your hands on a cone. In fact, it's so easily available that an estimated 5 million litres of Hokey Pokey is eaten each year.
Served mostly in the summer – but likely to make an appearance at most celebrations throughout the year – the pavlova is a New Zealand favourite. So much so that Kiwis fiercely defended their claim to introducing the fruity, creamy concoction to the world against the Aussies. Named after a popular Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova, Australia and New Zealand both claimed to be the first to invent it. For decades, the argument raged on until the Oxford English Dictionary settled the dispute once and for all. It was New Zealand who were the first to have a recorded recipe for the dessert.
The dish is a classic meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft inside. Topped with fresh fruits – including strawberries, passionfruit and kiwifruit – and whipped cream, it's a light, refreshing treat for your sweet tooth, and you can still feel proud of getting your 5-a-day!
The exclusivity of this fruit to New Zealand makes it one of the ultimate 'must-eats' when you're visiting. For people the rest of the world over, these are rarer than gold to get your hands on. Kiwis who emigrate will spend many wasted days searching for a taste of this unique nectar, but in New Zealand, they're sold by the bucket and cost next to nothing. What makes them so special? Their flavour, for one, has been proven almost impossible to describe. Rather it's a blend of all things nice. Think guava, or quince… with hints of strawberry, no – pineapple! Actually it's kind of got a hint of mint. And it looks like a lime but you eat it like a kiwifruit. Basically – try it for yourself. It's the only way of unearthing the truth about New Zealand's best-kept secret
Lemon & Paeroa drinks
The people of Paeroa – a tiny northern town with a population of no more than 6000 – are in on the joke about the humble, small-town roots for this world-wide success. The tagline 'World famous in New Zealand' refers to the fact that every Kiwi swears by this fizzy drink, but it's not sold anywhere else in the world. As close as a drink can get to becoming a national treasure, Kiwis claim this drink is excellent for hangovers, and if you want to fit in with the locals, you'll call it an 'L&P'.