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The most important New Zealand foods to try in New Zealand

by Catherine Carey | January 4, 2024
fish and chips New Zealand foods

New Zealand captivates with its vibrant places to visit in New Zealand and breathtaking landscapes, a harmonious blend of rolling green hills, pristine New Zealand beaches, and snow-capped mountains. However, beyond its natural wonders, the country boasts a culinary scene that is as diverse and unique as its geography

New Zealand foods combine Māori traditions, British influences, and the vibrant flavors of the Pacific Rim. In this article, you will find the best dishes in New Zealand and beverages to accompany them.

New Zealand foods and typical dishes

To travel to New Zealand is to explore magical landscapes and to relax being surrounded by nature. Nevertheless, it is also a perfect destination to try some of the world’s best culinary delights. 

New Zealand foods are mainly a mixture of European (British and Mediterranean) and Māori influences. Nevertheless, it also has a certain amount of Asian cuisine’s influence, especially in the biggest cities in New Zealand

Seafood: crayfish and green-lipped mussels

The most typical food in New Zealand is seafood. You will be pleased when you try locally sourced and fresh crayfish, mussels and salmon. Did you know that only in New Zealand you will find green-lipped mussels? This variety of fatty mussels is not found anywhere else in the world. 

Also, if you like fish, you must try out the typical fish and chips!

Crayfish in New Zealand foods

Māori hāngī

Since Māori culture is widely extended and respected by New Zealanders, you shouldn’t leave New Zealand without trying something cooked in the Māori hāngī, a traditional earth oven. Some foods cooked in a hāngī include chicken, pork, mutton, pumpkin, potato and kumara (sweet potato). These have a particularly smokey flavour. 

Another traditional Māori is a boil-up which is like a soup made with pork, potatoes, kumara and dumplings. To try out Māori food, you should travel to Rotorua in North Island. 

Kina, sea-urchin

Kina is the name that is used in New Zealand to refer to sea-urchin. You must try it fried or in a pie

Lamb and barbeques

If you do not want to eat fish, you must try out lamb, especially at a Barbeque. Lamb is one of the most important New Zealand foods. Kiwis love to spend time with friends and family during a BBQ or “barbie”.  A roasted lamb with herbs like rosemary and garlic and is accompanied with vegetables is a delight. Lamb from New Zealand is known for being full of flavor and very tender. 

Lamb typical New Zealand foods

New Zealand Cheeses

In New Zealand you will be able to taste some of the best cow, sheep and goat cheeses from several world-class cheese companies. You should definitely try blue cheese, sharp vintages and creamy soft cheeses. Some of the most beloved cheeses are Kāpiti Cheese, Whitestone and Puhoi Valley.


Marmite is one of the most remarkable New Zealand foods. This paste and spread is one of the most controversial typical dishes in New Zealand, you either love it or absolutely hate it. Marmite is made of yeast extract, herbs, and spices.

Marmite New Zealand foods


Meat or mince pies are one of the staples of New Zealand’s cuisine. Although meat pie is the most consumed, liked and traditional flavor of pie, nowadays you can find many other different flavors like bacon and egg, steak and cheese, potato pies, salmon and bacon, butter chicken, mushroom and wine pies, etc. 


Whitebait consists of not fully grown fishes. These are typically fried in what seems like omelets. Since they are immature fish, they are seasonal (only during certain months they can be captured). The best place to have these fish fritters are on the West Coast of New Zealand, especially in the town of Haast.


Kiwi Burgers

Kiwi Burgers are what a typical meat burger is, but with beetroot and a fried egg as toppings. They are typically found in any pub or restaurant.

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac biscuit is a sweet biscuit made with oats, flour, butter, golden syrup, sugar and baking soda. These biscuits are called that because they are associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I. It is believed that women’s groups preferred sending Anzac biscuits to soldiers abroad because they were kept well during transportation.

Anzac biscuits New Zealand foods

Ice-cream Hokey pokey

Good ice-cream is also one of the New Zealand foods you need to try when you get there. You should try Hokey Pokey which is a vanilla ice cream mixed in with small lumps of toffee.

Kiwi: the fruit 

Kiwi is the most iconic fruit of New Zealand. It is so typical of New Zealand that even New Zealanders are referred to as “kiwis”. You will find green kiwis, but also yellow or golden kiwis, which are the most popular kind of kiwis. They are sweeter than the green ones. 


For desserts, you should definitely try Pavlova which is a dish consisting of meringue, marshmallow, whipped cream, and fresh fruit.  

Pavlova New Zealand foods

Top 10 recommended New Zealand foods

  • Crayfish
  • Fish and chips
  • Roast lamb
  • Pavlova
  • Kumara
  • Pies
  • Marmite 
  • Green-lipped mussels
  • Whitebait 
  • Kiwi

Beverages you must try in New Zealand

If you are traveling to New Zealand you must try some of the favorite drinks of the New Zealanders. One of the most popular ones is Lemon and Paeroa (this name is after the North Island town it was invented in). It is a sweet soft drink with a lemony taste

In New Zealand you should also try coffee, especially flat white. Kiwis love coffee and, as a matter of fact, Auckland hosts a festival of coffee. 

When it comes to alcoholic drinks, there are really good wines and beers in New Zealand. Tasting a good Chardonnay, Bordeaux, Pinot noir or a Sauvignon blanc is a delightful experience. The two best regions to enjoy wine and walk through a vineyard are at Canterbury and Marlborough. If you are not into wine and prefer a beer, there are plenty of options for you too.  The most popular are pale or amber lagers. Don’t be shy and give them a try!

Before you embark on your journey to New Zealand, you must remember that to be able to enjoy these New Zealand foods and drinks, you will most likely need a New Zealand visa to travel there. Make sure to fulfill all New Zealand travel requirements.