New Zealand local cuisine, Hangi and excellent wines.

What Are the Gastronomic Specialties?

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  • 1How About New Zealand’s Food?
  • 2The Breakfast and the Marmite's Tasting.
  • 3Delicious Lambs and Best Burgers in the World!
  • 4Fish and Shellfish of the Day.
  • 5The Hangi, a Wonderful Maori Tradition.
  • 6Original Beers and World-Class Wines.
  • 7Cheese, Dessert and Coffee.
  • 8Fresh Food & Supermarkets.

How About New Zealand’s Food?

Do not confuse the cafes that serve cheap burgers and the actual restaurants that are more expensive. But the difference in purchasing power often allows you to enjoy good addresses.

The restaurants are quite expensive but of good quality.

The New Zealand cuisine is a classic British cuisine under the influence of the Pacific. Don't be afraid, without being the best on earth, food is quite tasty in the land of Kiwis!

New Zealanders have succumbed to the fast-food trend long ago, but the resistance is back. Organic and vegetarian restaurants are a sign of the gastronomy renewal.

Leaving aside the fast food and we turn our attention the authentic local cuisine. Your purchasing power, slightly higher than New Zealander's, should allow you to enjoy many restaurants during your stay.

Do not forget that Kiwis are usually having dinner around 19h in New Zealand. Your chances of finding a restaurant table after 10 pm are low, especially in the provinces.

Ordering and paying at the bar before eating is far from a disadvantage when you are on vacation. This allows you to leave the restaurant faster to get back on the road.

You often order at the bar before the meal.

The Queenstown Ice Bar is located near the docks.

The famous ice bar in Queenstown.

Filmed by purequeenstown.

At the restaurant, you can sometimes order at the bar and you may even pay the bill before consuming.

By the way, you are not the victim of a bad joke when you receive a pink plastic statue or a toy with your receipt. This object allows servers to easily locate your table. Of course, the best restaurants prefer the traditional way to do, but this touch of humor is nice.

New Zealand provides some culinary delights that you must taste during your trip. I will present you the menu and you'll just have to make your choice!

The Breakfast and the Marmite's Tasting.

The Vegemite is present on the breakfast tables. It is unlikely that you will enjoy this very salty spread.

The Marmite sandwich is a must for breakfast.

The New Zealand breakfast has evolved since the time of the settlers when people were eating lamb and bread... Now you can expect a continental or English breakfast according to your taste.

Marmite is a brown paste made from yeast extract, and very popular among New Zealanders and Australians.

Its little yellow-lidded pot is almost always found on the dining room table. When Christchurch's earthquake damaged a factory and stopped the production of marmite, even the Prime Minister spoke on TV about this national issue.

One must have been accustomed to the Marmite since early childhood to appreciate its very special flavor.

The Vegemite is a concentrate of very salty beer yeast, the equivalent of the marmite.

The Vegemite is the Australian version of the Marmite.

Frankly, I would not have had the idea to taste it at first, but the pot was on my breakfast table. The name in itself and its packaging evokes more a kind of insecticide.

My first attempt has sparked hilarity of my host in Rotorua,, but it was not a real surprise for him, as many foreign guests always react the same way.

It is rare for tourists to appreciate Marmite (or Vegemite), a local spread made from yeast and particularly salty. It is impossible to leave the country without having tried!

The taste of the Marmite has not ceased to surprise travelers.

I guess my stomach fought back against this terribly salty yeast. I challenge you to try, but fortunately there are other specialties far tastier in New Zealand.

The Vegemite coming from Australia is the Marmite's main competitor. It is even saltier but is more and more popular in New Zealand (most Kiwis have their own preference and never change).

Delicious Lambs and Best Burgers in the World!

With thirty million sheep in the area, it is not surprising to see lamb served in most restaurants.

The lamb dishes are unavoidable.

With 30 million sheep living on the territory, the lamb is a great classic of New Zealand's cuisine. The Kiwis are exporting this meat all over the world and you have probably tasted it without really appreciating it.

You should consider giving it a second chance! The lamb cooked in New Zealand is far different from the one who has traveled 18,000 km in a refrigerated container.

It is often served braised accompanied with mashed kumara, the sweet potato from New Zealand.

The flower is a starred restaurant near Moeraki that cooks the mutton bird to perfection.

The Mutton bird is served in great restaurants.

Another great specialty, the mutton bird is particularly tasty. The ancient Maoris used to put the bird directly into hot springs to cook it with its feathers! Of course, today it is prepared with much more delicacy in the gastronomic restaurant La Fleur near Moeraki.

Barbecuing is a sacred tradition and you can't cancel your engagement just because it rains. Bring salads if you are invited, and enjoy!

The Barbies is the nickname of BBQ in New Zealand.

But if there is a culinary tradition shared by the entire population, it is indeed the BBQ. You must not refuse an invitation, no matter the circumstances, including bad weather. To be polite, you should not come empty-handed. Bring some appetizers or a good bottle of wine and your host will supply the giant sausages and the steaks.

Being without any doubt the best burger restaurant in the world, the Queenstown Fergburger is a must-do if you visit the Central Otago.

The legendary Queenstown Fergburger!

If you do not have the opportunity to join an authentic New Zealand BBQ, you still have the Fergburger.

This Queenstown's fast food is known to serve the best burgers in the country if not the entire world. Otherwise, you can consider the Burger Fuel restaurants with buns baked on site, for a result well above the average.

If you do not like meat, please stay with us until I present the specialties of the sea!

Fish and Shellfish of the Day.

It is said that the best Fish'n chips in the world would be served in Mangonui. New Zealand is made up of islands and populated by sailors, and the Kiwis often do so.

On an island colonized by British, the Fish'n chips is king.

In an island nation where children learn to sail at school, it is not surprising to find fish in most restaurants' menu.

Fishing is a national sport, and the Kiwis usually eat their catch of the weekend with their family. The Fish'n chips is delicious, but there is an even more popular recipe ...

The Whitebait's season is expected by the entire country! Served fried, the whitebait was grilled under the sun by the ancient Maori warriors.

Today, it is a speciality cooked by the best chefs in the world.

The whitebait season is expected by a whole country. This frying is served in the best restaurants.

Whitebait is the most refined and expensive dish of the country.

The Whitebait is expensive, and if your budget is tight, there is another marvel that is found on the coasts of the country. Green mussels from New Zealand are both enormous and delicious. If you love mussels, prepare for a feast.

The green mussels of New Zealand are as good as they are copious!

The green mussels of New Zealand are very copious.

Of course, New Zealanders are no longer hunting whales in the Kaikoura Peninsula,, but there are lobsters to taste in the region! Kaikoura actually means “crayfish meal” in the Maori language. It is a speciality often cooked during the Hangis celebrations.

The Hangi, a Wonderful Maori Tradition.

To cook the Hangi like the Maori, you have to dig a hole in the ground and place some embers. Then put the packaged raw food in bags on a bed of soil. Then cover the whole with the remaining soil and wait four hours for the food to cook.

The ingredients of the Hangi will be cooked on embers.

The Hangi of the Maori is not a dish itself, but a traditional cooking method popular in the Rotorua region. It requires cookware that we are not accustomed to find in a kitchen: a pick and a shovel!

Hangi preparation involves digging a hole in the ground. A bed of glowing embers is covered by a thin layer of soil. Then, the food is packed in a canvas bag with spices and placed in the hole just above the glowing embers and finally covered with soil. The full cooking lasts more than four hours and the Hangi just cannot to be improvised at the last minute! You have to earn it!

Because it cooks for four hours buried on a bed of embers, the hangi has an inimitable smoky taste.

The smoky taste of the Hangi is delicious and inimitable.

The meat is tender and the vegetables remain crisp and tasty. It is a cuisine that is both healthy and simple, with a very original smoky flavor.

While waiting to be served, you can enjoy a glass of wine or a local beer. Both are classic and highly recommended in New Zealand.

You can taste the Hangi during the popular Maoris shows in Rotorua.

Original Beers and World-Class Wines.

Each region of New Zealand brews its own beers. The Tall Black, the Cardrona or the Brewski, are the most appreciated.

Each region brews its own beers.

New Zealanders have long known pubs with a 6 pm closing time. The end of this kind of prohibition in 1967 made the happiness of an entire country (to be honest, the South Island cities had almost never respected the law anyway).

Steinlager, Speight's and Tui are the most popular beers, but it's up to you to try the specialty of each region you visit. Of course, one must be at least 18 years old to drink alcohol in New Zealand. The Kiwis are great beer lovers, and their beers are tasty for sure, but their wines are even better and deserve their international reputation.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is arguably the best in its class. But other wines such as Pinot Noir are equally excellent.

Marlborough's Sauvignon Blanc is the best in the world.

Circuits allow you to tour the vineyards and participate in tastings, like at Rippon Vineyard.

Presentation of Rippon Vineyard by its owner, Nick Mills.

A documentary by LakeWanakaNZ.

The vine was introduced by British settlers in 1830. The result was far from good, until 1970 when techniques have finally evolved to take advantage of the volcanic soil.

Today, New Zealand exports its wines and the Sauvignon Blanc is considered to be one of the finest in the world.

Unlike the secular tradition of keeping the winemaker jealously secretive, New Zealand producers share their knowledge. The result exceeded all expectations.

The spirit of mutual aid has revolutionized the way wine-making.

Unlike Westerners who jealously keep secret their manufacturing process, many wine makers of the country decided to share their expertise. There are more than four hundred vineyards in New Zealand and many can be visited, like in the central Otago region. Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can be ordered in restaurants (glass or bottle), often accompanied by excellent cheeses.

Wine in New Zealand is covered in a complete guide on Kiwipal.

Cheese, Dessert and Coffee.

New Zealand is the world's largest exporter of powdered milk and have more than 200 varieties of cheese!

You should taste one of the 200 varieties of cheese.

New Zealand produces more than 200 varieties of cheese. The classics are present, but original cheeses are to be tasted. Try the spicy and fruity Kikorangi or the famous Airedale before moving to the dessert!

Both New Zealand and Australia claim the paternity of the Pavlova for over a century. This crispy meringue created in honor of a Russian ballerina is traditionally served with fruits and some whipped cream. It is the traditional Christmas dessert, to be tasted in family or in great restaurants.

The Pavlova is a recipe of fruity meringue dedicated to a famous ballerina of the last century. New Zealanders and Australians stull argue about the paternity of this festive dessert.

La Pavlova is a meringue with fresh fruit.

This is a delicious recipe, but perhaps too plentiful after a meal. That's why I recommend ordering it after a long mountain hike. In many restaurants, the choice of the fruits is left to the customer.

If you consider the green kiwi too acide, you should try the golden kiwi which is a sweeter variant. Ideal for breakfast!

The Golden Kiwi is a sweeter variety.

I have always found the taste of green kiwi too acidic, but there is a golden kiwi with a sweet taste that grows in New Zealand.

Other exotic fruits are available in any supermarkets, like the Babaco whose taste reminds pineapple and melons.

Black Peak Gelato offers over fifty homemade ice cream flavors. A real treat after a long hike in the mountains.

Black Peak Gelato from Wanaka serves the country's best ice cream.

This is also with the seasonal fruits that Black Peak Gelato prepares its ice cream. The famous Glacier of Wanaka proposes fifty different flavors, including the Hokey-Pokey (a blend of vanilla with small lumps of honeycomb toffee) which is the most popular ice cream in New Zealand.

Since the Kiwis discovered coffee, five-hour tea is in decline. There are no cafes that have opened in Auckland.

The coffee gradually replaces the five-hour tea.

New Zealanders' passion for coffee comes from the 90s. I particularly recommend the Fidel's Café in the Cuba street of Wellington. The trend is such that the consumption of tea declined strongly which is incredible for a country founded by British settlers.

Fresh Food & Supermarkets.

Markets and supermarkets offer fresh produce grown in the country. You can buy what you need to cook your own meals.

Guests can enjoy shopping at a local Four Square.

New Zealand might not be the best country in the world for gastronomy. But nothing prevents you to cook your own meals during your stay... The supermarkets sell all the ingredients you might need, like fresh vegetables and products from all over the world.

The visit of a New World or Count Down (the two main local supermarkets) is an experience on its own. There is a multitude of original products and it's difficult to resist! Beware of the English cream cakes or you'll return from New Zealand with some extra weight.

Some traders leave their products unattended. A simple box allows customers to pay for their purchases. A system that says it all about the honesty of New Zealanders.

No one would ever think of stealing the honesty box!

On the road, you often come across fruit stands without a vendor to watch them. A simple wooden box allows the travelers to pay the products. Such concept says more about the honesty in New Zealand than anything else.

In the same spirit, some restaurants display the BYO mention (“Bring your own”) on the menu. It means you can bring your own bottle of wine for the meal. The corkscrew and the glasses will be charged a few dollars only.

The quality of the wine produced in the region of Otago is now recognized throughout the world.

Impossible to leave without buying a souvenir bottle.

Do not wait until the last day to buy bottles of wine as a souvenir. The Marlborough and Otago shops are more interesting than the airport duty-free zone. Remember also that the customs will control the number of bottles per traveler. Treat yourself well and remember that if tipping is optional, it is appreciated.

William, Kiwipal
A Guide Written by William.
Founder of Kiwipal, New Zealand Travel Guide.

Questions & Answers.

What can I do for you? I can give you the Pavlova recipe if you ask me, but you must promise to taste the Marmite right after!

Ask a question to Ben

  • All topics ... 12 answers in total
  • New Zealand Wines 3 answers
  • Restaurants 3 answers
  • Vegemite 2 answers
  • Best Burgers 2 answers
  • Fruits and Vegetables 2 answers

New Zealand Wines

  • What are the best New Zealand wines?

    Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are the two best wines of the country.

  • Why are New Zealand wines so good?

    After many difficulties to find vines adapted to the volcanic soil, the New Zealanders found the right formula and helped each other. The government also largely financed the removal of old grape varieties in the 1980s.

  • Are New Zealand wines available in Europe?

    It is difficult to taste New Zealand wines at the restaurant. We sometimes find a few bottles in specialized wine caves but the simplest remains to order on the Internet. I recommend the Sauvignon Blanc.


  • What does the BYO mention mean in restaurants?

    This means you can bring your own bottle of wine to the restaurant. The Bring Your Own does not exempt you from paying a few dollars for the service (glass and corkscrew).

  • At what time do restaurants close?

    The Kiwis go to sleep early and outside the big cities you have little chance of finding a restaurant open past 10 pm.

  • Are you expected to pay at the checkout?

    This method of payment is mostly present in entry-level or tourist restaurants. This has an undeniable advantage for the hurried traveler to get back on the road.


  • Is it easy to find Marmite in Europe?

    Vegemite is easily found in supermarkets, but the Marmite is more difficult to find.

  • What is the difference between the Marmiteand Vegemite?

    The Vegemite is a little saltier than the Marmite.

Best Burgers

  • Does the Fergburger deserve its reputation?

    A recent vote of Internet users confirms the quality of these tasty hamburgers. Impossible to leave Queenstown without having tasted one of these wonders.Fergburger Queenstown

  • Can we eat anything other than burgers?

    The question also arises for lamb served at all sauces in restaurants. The answer is positive, and you will find all the fresh products you need to cook your own meals.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • What is Kumara?

    It is a sweet potato that is usually cooked for the hangi prepared by the Maoris.

  • What is the difference between golden and green kiwis?

    The yellow kiwi is called the Golden Kiwi. It is sweeter and less acidic than the green kiwi. Ideal for breakfast!

Guillaume picture in the mountains

Ask Questions to William.

New Zealand Expert

If there was indeed a domain where I did not imagine New Zealand capable to surprise me it was the kitchen.

But the cuisine of the Kiwis is influenced by the Pacific and evolves from year to year.

You will discover many specialties like the Whitebait or the green mussels.

And if you prefer meat, you will be delighted by the legendary Fergburger!

william Ask me a question

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Guillaume picture in the mountains

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