New Zealand is full of delicious produce; from raw seafood, to creamy dairy products. Like most things in life – I didn’t appreciate how good it was until it was out of reach.
Given the rarity of finding New Zealand products in Europe, it seems almost impossible to recreate the nostalgic flavours of my homeland while abroad.
Although the list of great Kiwi food is endless, I’ve narrowed it down to a handful of absolute must-tries based on personal preference and uniqueness.
If you’re a seafood lover, you must not visit New Zealand without indulging in green-lipped mussels. My time back home isn’t complete without hovering over the kitchen sink; knife in hand, cleaning and debearding these delicious shellfish.
Cooked in the oven; covered in garlic, or on the stove in a coconut-based sauce are tasty methods to enjoy them. However, to truly appreciate their salty freshness, my favourite is to simply devour them raw. Green-lipped mussels are readily available in the seafood section of most supermarkets, and are reasonably priced – and if you’re feeling fancy, pick up a few fresh oysters while you’re there.
Keeping with the seafood theme; smoked fish is another delicious staple, found in my mother’s refrigerator at all times. Growing up, our family often enjoyed all types of white fish; smoked, whole, and nibbled on over the course of two or three days. Smoked salmon is also extremely popular, and can be found in small packaging, perfect for picnics or as an addition to a snack board. Given the intensity of its flavour, smoked fish is easily consumed on its own, or accompanied with bread, crackers, or an unsalted salad.
Moving on from the sea, to the bakeries. Baked goods are a real treat in New Zealand, whether you’re feeling something savoury or sweet.
The most popular item on all bakery menus is the (meat) pie. With its soft and buttery, yet crispy outer layer of pastry, the filling can consist of many different options – but I’d recommend going for the mince or steak and cheese pie. Soul-warming and tummy-filling, this high-calorie indulgence should keep you going all day.
If you’re ready to sweeten the pallet, why not get stuck into a real Kiwi classic: hokey pokey ice cream. A vanilla-based delight packed with honeycomb toffee gems, creating the perfect balance of sweet flavour and silky texture. You’ll find this sold in tubs at supermarkets, corner stores, or as a single serving at most ice cream stands. Dairy products in general are of very high quality, so any New Zealand-made ice cream is sure to please.
Perhaps you prefer fulfilling your sweet tooth first thing in the morning; a little something alongside your morning coffee. If so, there’s nothing quite like the world-famous Manuka honey, melted on a warm slice of toast to get your day started. Manuka honey is widely available throughout New Zealand: I’d suggest buying a jar upon arrival to keep you going throughout your journey ahead.
Famous for its incredible landscapes and delicious wine, the food of New Zealand is not widely known. When I think of food from back home, seafood is my first point of reference – and although it holds strong significance in New Zealand; there’s something for everyone, no matter your dietary or taste preferences. The variety is plentiful, and this article has only scratched the surface. As a general rule of thumb: if it was sourced or grown within New Zealand, tastiness is guaranteed.