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What no one mentions about New Zealand is that the food there is good, really good. Yes we all know the mountains are amazing and driving around the country feels like you’re on the set of every mythical movie ever made, but that is not all this beautiful country has to offer. Joe and I were shocked at how well we ate there and thought it was about time New Zealanders get credit for being an awesome tourist stop for foodie travel. Check out our list below to see what to eat in New Zealand.
What to Eat in New Zealand
Green Lipped Mussels are the meatier, tastier version of the species we sample regularly in the North Eastern United States. These bad boys taste like the ocean, although not in the overly powerful way that some of the more potent shellfish can. It’s a subtle hint of salt and sand, and it’s delightful.
Try: Fleurs Place
Agriculture is a very strong part of the economy here, and that includes dairy farms. As a result, dairy products in New Zealand are awesome. As die hard cheese lovers, we did not waste time sampling all that the country had to offer. From cow to sheep to goat, the milk of all farm animals are used to create cheeses rivaling the best in the world. The bleu cheese we tried had won best cheese in the world in 2016.
Try: Whitestone Cheese (we stopped off at the factory store, but they also sell their products at some supermarkets)
All of the meat is local in New Zealand. Whether it is hamburgers, pork chops, or other cuts of beef, they are all delicious in their own way. Our favorite thing to do was to go to a butcher shop–there are way less of these than we thought there would be–pick up some sausage, put it on the grill, and have it that night. A tasty treat!
Try: Fergberger–we know the most touristy spot possible, but it is really good and if you’re in Queenstown, you have to do it.
These big and well known shellfish bare no resemblance to the miniature ones we have in freshwater streams in the Northeastern United States. In New Zealand, crayfish look more like shrimp the size of a small lobster. Make sense? Not really, but so what. They are supposed to be delicious, although we spent our allocated crayfish eating time looking for our lost camera, so we did not get to verify it.
You’ll notice a common theme here – the seafood in New Zealand is good, like really, really good. As with many island nations, the fishing industry is important to their economy and their catch is vital to their diet. The fish, much of which we’d never hear of, was all awesome. You can’t go wrong. Get it everywhere you can and in every form. One of our favorites is good old fashioned fish and chips, found all over the country–funny enough, usually at Chinese restaurants. We found our favorite in Kaikoura, but we did not really have a bad one, so have it whenever you can.
Try: Coopers Catch
Sadly these were not in season when we visited, however these are supposed to be some of the best oysters in the world. Once a year, the town of Bluff located at the very tip of the South Island hosts a festival to celebrate the local shellfish. It might be worth trekking all the way down there just to experience it!
7. Fresh fruit ice cream
This is exactly what it sounds like – fresh, homemade ice cream combined with chunks of frozen fruit. All the ingredients all placed in a specialized blender and whipped together to create some of the freshest and most delicious ice cream we’ve ever had. Also, it’s another excuse to sample New Zealand’s delicious dairy.
Yes we know this isn’t a food, and yes we’re going to include it anyway. Honestly the wine in New Zealand is so beautiful – tasty, light, AND refreshing – that it should be given its own food group. You can sample from the stores, but we recommend taking the time out to try them straight from the vineyard. No matter where you are in the country, there is a winery region within reach. Find your closest, and hunt down your most desired, and get to tasting.
9. Whitebait patties
Like the oysters these are a seasonal treat, but unlike the oysters we made it just in time to sample these delights. The campground we stayed at in Franz Josef had a handy list that led us to this little stand on the side of a dirt road where the owner was behind the counter chatting and flipping patties made up of many of the ultra tiny translucent fish, flour, and eggs. The end result was a piece of white bread and the patty topped with salt and a homemade sauce, just fantastic.
For two grown adults that just entered their thirties, we spend an embarrassing amount of time eating, discussing, and searching for candy and treats. I know it’s not good for you, preservatives and chemicals and red dye #4 ect., but I simply can’t help it. I LOVE candy, in all it’s glorious forms. So when we saw the Cadbury factory in Dunedin pop up, we took a wee side trip and ate all the chocolate. If a factory tour about processed sugar isn’t your thing, you can find delicious candy all over the country in every convenience and grocery store.
Try: Cadbury Factory
11. Meat Pies
What’s not to love about a chewy, flaky crust filled with stewed or pulled meats? We could not help but pop one of these into our mouths at every available opportunity, and highly suggest you do to.
Try: Piha Cafe
What else did you eat in New Zealand that we missed? Leave us a comment!
*Note none of the links here sponsored us in any way, these are simply things and places we enjoyed, and think you will too.