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5 Fantastic Foods Native to New Zealand for Travelers to Try

Updated on March 19, 2019

One of the best parts of visiting a foreign land is sampling some of the tastiest of their traditional cuisines. When exploring many of the pristine parts of New Zealand, travelers don't need to make a reservation at a fancy restaurant to try some of the classic cuisines found here in the land down under.

Without any further adieu, here's our guide to the top five fantastic foods to enjoy while in New Zealand. In reality, all of these foods will be found practically anywhere in Australia, but there are a few spots native to this neighboring island country.


1. Ice Cream - Do The Hokey Pokey!

You know what they say, life is uncertain so eat dessert first! When it comes to ice cream (you scream, we all scream for ice cream), Australia is home to a signature type of this favorite chilly dish. Hokey Pokey ice cream is made using caramelized honey giving it a unique sweet taste and texture. While it's available all over Aussie and New Zealand when in Auckland, be sure to check out Giapo Ice Cream where they specialize in making and serving this native dessert.


2. Hungry For Hangi? Enjoy This Eating Experience

Many travelers are unaware New Zealand is the western corner of the Polynesian Triangle with Hawaiian neighbors far to the north and Easter Island in the distant southeast. Some of the customs and foods from the native Maori tribe are closely tied to their Polynesian partners like a traditional Hangi dining experience which is remarkably similar to a Hawaiian Luau with native foods being slow-roasted in an underground oven.

Usually reserved for special occasions within the tribe, to accommodate tourist traffic and hungry visitors, The Hangi Shop was opened back in the year 2000 to serve this delicious dish. There are plenty of places in New Zealand to enjoy the whole Hangi dining experience similar to attending a traditional Luau in a native village with all the bells and whistles including live entertainment.


3. Manuka Honey

Made from a native namesake bush, Manuka honey is an often-sought after item on the international marketplace known for its many medicinal qualities. There are plenty of places to sample this sweet and healthy treat from dedicated honey shops to supermarkets and health food stores all over New Zealand.


4. Partial To Pavlova

Returning to the dessert cart, Pavlova may sound similar to Baklava, the flaky Greek pastry, except Pavlova is on a completely different level compared to this European dish. Filled with meringue, whipped cream, kiwi, or other seasonal fruits, Pavlova is simply scrumptious. Served in many upscale restaurants, you'll also find this tasty pastry sold in many local bakeries.


5. Sensational Seafood

When visiting almost any island country, sampling some of the freshest seafood is always on the menu and New Zealand is certainly no exception. With so many choices available, here are just a few favorites mostly native to these shores:

  • Crayfish: Often called crawdads or referred to as the "poor man's lobster" in the States, in New Zealand crayfish, are huge in comparison to those in the Louisiana Bayou or other regions of America.
  • Kina: A local type of shiny sea urchin captured on the coast and commonly found in restaurants along the coast, another way to experience the Kina is in their natural environment by snorkeling in the Bay of Islands about 100 miles north of Auckland.
  • Paua: The Maori tribe gave the name Paua to a type of sea snail similar to abalone with a beautiful shell used in jewelry and ashtrays. Considered a delicacy like other types of snails, they're often consumed raw but also enjoyed in curries or fritters you can find in quaint seafood spots offering fish and chips.

Be sure to sample some of the sensational seafood and other tasty dishes available for hungry travelers in New Zealand. Happy dining mate!


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