New Zealand for Foodies

While New Zealand’s scenic variations are well known, there are some local food specialities that you shouldn’t miss during your trip.  Here’s your New Zealand food guide featuring five savoury delights you absolutely must try before you leave.

New Zealand Food Guide

1. Experience a Maori hangi

Where to find it: Rotorua

A hangi pit, or earth oven, is the traditional way that Maoris cook their food, and once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be asking for advice about how to create one in your own garden once you get home.  Hot stones are placed into a pit and baskets of food piled high with chicken, lamb, kumara (sweet potato), potatoes and carrots laid on top.  Covered with hessian sacks and then buried under earth, the baskets are left for several hours to let the heat from the stones slowly cook the food.  Find it at Mitai Maori Village just north of Rotorua or Tamaki Maori Village in the centre of town.

New Zealand Food Guide: Putting down a hangi
Putting down a hangi: Photo Einalem CC BY-SA 2.0

2. Taste a whitebait pattie

Where to find it: Franz Josef

The west coast of South Island is known for its whitebait patties or fritters. The local rivers here are home to whitebait – tiny, tender and above all, tasty.  In some parts of the world they are served fried and crunchy, but head to The Landing at Franz Josef and they’ll serve them as is customary in these parts – mixed with flour and eggs and fried to form a delicious pattie.

New Zealand Food Guide: "Whitebait Fritter"
“Whitebait Fritter”: Photo MathewTownsend Public Domain

3. Savour the smoothest oyster on the planet

Where to find it: Bluff

Oysters are like Marmite – you either love them or you hate them.  If you fall into the former category as I do, then you can’t beat the creamy texture of a Bluff oyster.  Whether you’re a purist, and limit yourself to a squeeze of lemon, or prefer them with a kick of Tabasco, you’ll appreciate the superior taste achieved by growing them slowly in the cold waters of the Foveaux Strait.  The season runs from March to August, but time your visit for May if you wish to attend the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival.

New Zealdand Food Guide: Bluff oysters
Bluff oysters

4. Chow down on a Fergburger

Where to find it: Queenstown

Ferg’s burgers are so good that they’ve become a tourist attraction in their own right.  This Queenstown institution began back in 2001 tucked away down an alley but demand for its juicy burgers soared and you’ll now find it on Shotover Street. You’ll also find vegetarian and gluten free options. If you dribble down your shirt, don’t worry: you can pick up a souvenir T-shirt on your way out.

New Zealand Food Guide: Fergburger Restaurant Queenstown
Fergburger Restaurant, Queenstown: Photo Athn CC BY-SA 3.0

5. Make it a pie

Where to find it: Maketu, near Tauranga

New Zealanders love a hearty pie and Maketu pies are still made the way grandma used to do it.  This family run business only serves tried and tested recipes which is just how its loyal customer base likes it.  Alongside regular fillings such as steak and kidney, chicken and apple, you’ll find more unusual offerings such as Moroccan lamb or mussel pies.  The bakery’s by the beach at the end of a dead end road, but once you’ve eaten, you’ll agree it was worth the detour.

New Zealand Food Guide: Maketu pies
Maketu pies: Photo Aidan CC BY 2.0

Do you have anything to add to our New Zealand food guide? Leave us a comment below!

About JuliaHammond


Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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2 Responses

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