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New Zealand: 8 Food Stops During Your Trip to New Zealand

New Zealand has been on the top of my list for as long as I can remember. As far as nature and scenery go, words and pictures simply can’t do it justice. It smells incredibly fresh, and the sun seems to be bright even when it’s raining. It’s also a great country for those who love some wine and food. If you find yourself as lucky as me, visiting this gorgeous country and its two islands, then take a quick read through some food stops to make during your journey...

1. Enjoy Seafood with a Waterfront View of the Mountains

No matter what city you visit in New Zealand, you won’t be far from the coast. Which means, no matter where you go, amazing and fresh seafood. We enjoyed seafood almost every day, of all varieties. Grab a spot on the waterfront and feast on some local favorites and selections you won’t find anywhere else. We ate away with a beautiful view of The Remarkables.

What seafood should I try?

  • New Zealand Mussels, Green-lipped mussels (top left): Green-lipped mussels are local to New Zealand, and you know how can you recognize them? Well, they look exactly like you would guess: green-lipped. You can taste the fresh sea water in each one, super delicious and worth the search.

  • Whitebait fritter (top middle): Another New Zealand-specific seafood dish, Whitebait is a very common fish found around the city. We grabbed some whitebait fritter at Botswana Butchery, a popular food spot with a location in both Auckland and Queenstown.

  • Fish & Chips (top right): This is not specific to New Zealand, but still extremely popular and fresh. How can you say no to a plate of fried fish and fries? This is a great casual and cheap dish to grab if you want to try fresh seafood while backpacking around. We ate some delicious fish & chips at Erik’s Fish & Chips in Queenstown.

  • Crayfish (bottom left): New Zealand is known for its abundance of delicious crayfish. Definitely a must if you’re exploring some seafood options. This might be more of a splurge, but you won’t regret it! When in Rome, right?

  • Paua: You’ll see paua jewelry and shells all over New Zealand, because of their beautiful and colorful shell. Well, the interior is just as wonderful. Might be a little more difficult to find this one, but we were able to try it as an amazing and creative appetizer at The Bunker in Queenstown. It is a famous (and a little bit pricier) bar and restaurant in the heart of the town. Couldn’t recommend this romantic spot enough, but definitely make a reservation in advance.

2. Feast on Lamb & Venison in the Valley

Driving through the mountains and valleys of this beautiful country, you’ll spend hours road tripping through farmlands. Lamb is an absolute must-try dish if you visit New Zealand. You’ll see fields and fields of them, chomping away, and shop after shop of local merino wool hats and sweaters. Maybe grab a side of kūmara as well, which is a local vegetable, essentially a ginormous sweet potato.

In Queenstown, venison is also quite popular. We were surprised by this when we first flew in, but as we drove around, saw fields and fields of deer farms (just as you might see cows or lamb in other countries).

3. Grab a Kiwi Burger as You Explore Town

As you wander around town, stop for a yummy Kiwi Burger. It’s essentially a classic hamburger (lettuce, tomato, ketchup), but with beets and an egg. If you’re in Queenstown, definitely make a stop at Fergburger (top left)! Once claimed to be the best burger in the world, this famous burger shop hosts a large variety of burger options (beef and otherwise). Expect to wait in line, and definitely visit with an empty stomach. Not even kidding, my burger was the size of my face.

Quick Tip: if you’re having trouble finding a kiwi burger, visit any McDonalds. In New Zealand, every McDonalds has the Kiwi Burger on the menu (top right), which is an easy and cheap option if you’re backpacking around on a budget, but still want a fun New Zealand-specific meal.

4. Get Fancy at Tea Time

Tea time is a fun tradition in this part of the world too. As a lover of tea, we added this to our list of activities while exploring Auckland. We tried the teatime at the Cordis hotel and had a lovely experience. It’s a little pricier, but if you love teatime like me, definitely worth it. Anzac Biscuits, Afghan Cookies, and Pavolva (a delicious meringue pie) are great desserts to pair with tea, and wonderfully popular in New Zealand. Grab a bite or two of these as you sip away.

5. Take the Ferry to Waiheke Island for Some Wine

In my book, this is an absolute must. Waiheke Island is a quick and cheap ferry ride away from Auckland, and should be on anyone’s list who is in the area. New Zealand has some excellent wines, differing in variety depending on what areas of the North and South Island you're exploring. Auckland, on the northern tip of the North Island, is where Waiheke is located. It’s famous for being the perfect climate for some delicious reds. We grabbed a ticket for the hop-on-hop-off bus and spent the whole day doing some winery hopping and tastings around the island. This was one of my favorite days in New Zealand for sure. If you’re not in that area though, don’t fret. You can easily find local wines anywhere in the country, and you should definitely taste your way around.

Where we visited: Stonyridge Vineyard, Tantalus Estate,

and Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant

Other recommendations we received: Man O' War, Cable Bay, Obsidian, Passage Rock Wines, Peacock Sky Vineyard Restaurant, Casita Miro, Wild On Waiheke, Batch Winery

Expect a Waiheke blog post soon!

6. Cool Down with Some Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Hokey Pokey is an absolute must-try if you’re in New Zealand! It’s basically just a fun word for toffee, but it’s an extremely popular treat that everyone should try if they're visiting. We went to Giapo when we were in Auckland, which is a famous ice cream shop in the area and a wonderful experience. When you show up, there will no doubt be a long line. But don’t be discouraged! They move people in and out quickly. With two counters, they bring in parties of 4 or 5 at a time and go through their menu, allowing you to try a sample of every flavor they have! (Even if you already know what you want to try, it’s fun to taste test them all).

7. Grab a Meat Pie During Your Road Trip

to Fjordlands National Park

On our way to Milford Sound, we stopped a few times to explore different areas. Meat pies were a great road trip snack to recharge our batteries. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a buttery, pastry pie filled with meats and cheeses of your choosing. Different spots will offer different varieties. We enjoyed some steak & cheese and chicken curry pies.

8. Visit the Local Markets for Hiking Snacks

If you follow along, you know I’m a huge advocate for checking out a local grocery store or market when you’re visiting a new place. It always has just about the most local food you can get. As we hiked around different areas of New Zealand, we wanted some treats to snack on. Below are some of the New Zealand snacks you should try!

  • L & P Soda: a classic soda found in New Zealand, this is a fun thing to taste during your trip. You’ll easily find this at any convenience store next to the cokes. I’m not a huge soda drinker, but we compared it to something like Sprite: lemony and sweet.

  • Whittaker’s Peanut Slab: You’ll see Whittaker’s chocolate in all the convenience stores, port shops, and grocery stores across New Zealand. This is a (the) famous chocolate brand in this country. The classic flavor is their peanut slab, but go ahead and try as many varieties as you’d like, they have so many!

  • Chocolate Fish: Although I’m less of a fan of these, they are another popular candy found in the area. If you like American peeps, these might be right up your alley. It’s essentially marshmallow dipped in chocolate and shaped like a fish.

  • Pineapple Lumps: Another more unusual candy in New Zealand, these are also chocolate dipped but the inside is chewy pineapple candy.

  • Jaffas: There are a few different kinds of these, but they are basically M&Ms, and a quick candy to pop in your mouth as you wander around.

  • Kiwis: A nickname for someone hailing from New Zealand (although that is due to the local Kiwi bird), kiwis are also a delicious fruit found in the country. If you’re looking for a healthier snack, this fruit is pretty local and always delicious.

  • Feijoas: Another healthier fruit to snack on, but this ones a little harder to find outside of New Zealand. I woke up with some Feijoa juice in the mornings - so refreshing!

  • Manuka Honey: Want to spend some big bucks for apparently the best and healthiest honey in the world? You may have heard of Manuka honey before, in beauty products and beyond. Manuka honey comes from the tea trees in New Zealand and is a classic souvenir for those visiting. That being said, it costs at least 50 dollars to buy a moderately sized jar. We just wanted a taste, so we purchased some dark chocolate from Queenstown's famous Remarkable Sweet Shop with some Manuka honey inside. A great, cheaper choice.

BONUS STOP: If You Get the Chance, Maori Foods

This one’s more of a bonus, because we did not visit the correct region to genuinely try this and I don’t typically recommend anything I don’t do myself. But if you do have the opportunity, I highly suggest trying traditional Maori dishes. Maori is the native tribe and culture in New Zealand, and extremely important to New Zealand’s history. If you’re visiting, I suggest taking the time to visit museums and read about the difficult and ongoing history between the Maori and the government. There is land that was once taken away from these communities, which is slowly being given back. You can visit these communities to learn more about their history, extreme beauty, and deep importance. While visiting the historic buildings and watching different ceremonies, you might also hear about Hangi. This is a traditional Maori way of cooking various meats in the ground over a long period of time. Try to taste test some Hangi and some other Maori traditional dishes when in the area- I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Any suggestions? Let us know!

Written & Photographed by Emi Lungmus

Edited by Anna McCarthy

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