You can't leave New Zealand without trying the truly unique experience that is hāngi. Succulent and tender, roasted lamb is a favorite of kiwis. New Zealand lamb (opens in new window) is highly prized around the world and is one of the country's main export meats. Roasted lamb, best enjoyed with rosemary flavor and served alongside plenty of seasonal roasted vegetables, is a meal that's sure to impress.
You'll find it on the menus of our best restaurants across the country. If better enjoyed sitting on the beach on a warm summer afternoon, fish and chips (opens new window) is a favorite of New Zealanders. It consists of fresh fish, topped with a crispy crust and then fried, along with a generous portion of hot French fries. You can find fish and chips in almost every town in New Zealand.
This takeaway is usually accompanied by freshly baked white bread and tomato sauce. You'll also find fish and chips on the menus of most restaurants, which are usually served with seasonal salads. In terms of wine, New Zealand outweighs its weight. Enjoy full-bodied Pinot Noir, light, fruity Sauvignon Blanc, and the deep, spicy flavors of New Zealand Syrah.
Craft beer breweries are gaining popularity, and so are ciders. Created in 1907, Lemon & Paeroa (better known as L&P) is an alcohol-free soft drink made with lemon and carbonated water, whose name is due to the fact that it was originally created in the city of Paeroa. Feijoa juices, healthy kombucha creations and other fruit drinks (opens in new window) can be found in refrigerators in stores across the country. The first dish that most New Zealanders would say represents their country is the classic fish and chips or, as Kiwis say, fish and chups.
It is almost certain that the origin of this basic takeaway food is Great Britain, where the tradition of eating fish on Fridays for religious reasons boosted its position in British cuisine. Curiously, the idea of battering fish probably came to Britain from Western Sephardic Jewish immigrants in the 17th century, who used a mass of water and flour to increase their shelf life. While the idea of eating fish for religious reasons may have faded into relative obscurity, fish and chips have remained a New Zealand favorite for decades. However, while the British mainly use cod, haddock or sole as a fish component of the dish, New Zealanders are more likely to use tarahiki, hoki, red cod, blue warehou, or elephantfish.
Although kumara is technically a type of food and not a complete meal, it's impossible to compile a list of traditional New Zealand dishes without including the ubiquitous vegetable. For the rest of the world, a kumara is simply a sweet potato, but this tuber has great cultural significance for New Zealand's first settlers. There is a consensus about the origin of the kumara in New Zealand: many say that the first Polynesian settlers introduced it around the 13th century, taking it with them from South America and demonstrating historical contact between the two distant continents. Modern research indicates that it's possible that the kumara crossed the Pacific without human intervention, but the fact is that it has been a staple food in New Zealand for centuries.
Kumara, which is most commonly found in four varieties: red, gold, orange and purple, with different sweetness and texture, is very versatile and is used in salads, curries and stews, or cut into French fries and pieces. For a kitchen that isn't always suitable for vegetarians, kumara is a popular component in meatless dishes. White bait is another traditional Maori food that became a favorite of European colonists and its popularity has only grown over the years. Whitebait is the collective name for young fish and, in New Zealand, it applies specifically to five species of galaxies that live as adults in freshwater streams and rivers.
However, juveniles begin their journey at sea and are usually captured on their journey back to their freshwater habitats. Unfortunately, overfishing has meant that four of New Zealand's five white bait species are now listed as endangered. The environmental degradation of the country's waterways has also had a significant impact on the number of white baits, forcing the government to regulate how and when people can catch them and to make white bait the most expensive fish in New Zealand. White baits are traditionally made into fritters by frying them with eggs eaten on their own, on toast or on a sandwich.
Pāua is the Maori name for a large edible marine snail, known in the rest of the world as abalone. At first, European settlers avoided eating pāua and preferred to collect the beautiful pearlescent shells of mollusks to make jewelry. It is likely that this suited the Maori very well, as they consider pāua to be taonga, a word that roughly translates as cultural treasure, but without a direct translation into English. However, over time, Europeans also came to see pāua as a delicacy, placing it in the same precarious situation as white bait.
The collection of pāua comes with severe restrictions: it can only be collected by freediving and recreational collectors cannot collect more than 10 pounds per day. Unfortunately, the international appetite for abalone also means that it is frequently poached in New Zealand and illegally distributed around the world. Pāua can be eaten in a variety of ways, some people eat it raw, but they usually make fritters, such as white bait, steamed or stewed. Rēwena bread (parāoa rēwena) in Maori is a form of sourdough bread with strong links to traditional Maori culture.
Like other sourdoughs, rēwena is fermented with a fermentation starter; however, in this case, a unique potato-based starter, called a bug, is used. A bug can be made days before the bread is baked and, like other starters, it can be kept alive indefinitely as long as it is fed with yeast. In fact, some Maori families pass the bugs from one generation to the next and treat them as a precious relic and a part of their history. Rēwena bread is commonly eaten with butter, honey, or jam, although it is also frequently eaten as an accompaniment to soups, stews, and even pāua.
The potato content of bread is what differentiates the flavor of rēwena from that of other sourdoughs, as it contains a touch of sweetness, which can even be enhanced with kumara instead of ordinary potatoes. New Zealand is home to Pacific and Bluff oysters, although it's the latter that have gained international fame and are most closely associated with the seafood-loving nation. Bluff oysters have been collected in the Foveaux Strait, at the southern tip of New Zealand, for more than 100 years and owe their name to the town of Bluff, a settlement that owes its existence and growth to the oyster industry. Meatloaf is another traditional dish that is considered part of the national identities of Australia and New Zealand; however, in this case, neither of them claims to have invented meatloaf.
Instead, the debate tends to focus on which nation loves meatloaf the most. Meatloaf came to New Zealand by the British, who knew them from the ancient Romans and have not stopped eating them ever since. In turn, New Zealanders proceeded to be quite ingenious with their fillings, creating classics such as steak with cheese or minced meat and vegetables. They have even been inspired by other cuisines, with fillings such as Thai green curry or Indian butter chicken.
However, the most important feature of meat pie is its portability: every New Zealander knows that the best pies must fit in the hand to be chopped while traveling. Boiling Maori is a traditional cooking method that involves boiling a combination of bones and meat, usually pork, along with vegetables such as puha and starchy additions, such as kumara and corn. The ingredients are boiled together in a single pot and flour dumplings, known as doughboys, are added at the end to bind the food. Curiously, while boiling is traditionally Maori, it only occurred after European settlers arrived in New Zealand due to a lack of available kitchen equipment.
Until the mid-19th century, Polynesian cooks simply used wooden bowls, and often dropped a hot stone on them to boil water. However, with the colonists came portable cast-iron pots and cauldrons that could be used to boil and bake rēwena bread. Once a well has been dug, a fire is lit and covered with large stones. It is important to note that only volcanic rock is used, thankfully very common in the region, thanks to its heat retention properties.
After three to five hours, the wood should burn and the stones should be blank, so that metal baskets with food can be placed on the hot rocks. Finally, the food is covered with damp, fireproof sheets or bags to allow steam to form, and the hole is carefully covered with soil and left for about three hours, with the steam escaping everywhere. While the content of a hāngī can vary, the most common ingredients are seasoned meat (such as pork or lamb) wrapped in banana leaves and vegetables such as kumara and pumpkin. With more than 150 tours and experiences in New Zealand, the wizards of Goway's Downunder can offer you many ways to explore and enjoy New Zealand.
Driven by the use of local, fresh ingredients, New Zealanders tend to incorporate products from both land and sea into their dishes. You'll find the best crabs in New Zealand in the coastal town of Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island. Colloquially known as southern sushi, a name possibly more ironic than it is accurate, cheese rolls are a dish associated with the southernmost region of New Zealand. New Zealand crayfish, two species of rock lobster unique to the country, are a delicacy in New Zealand and are known for their meatiness and subtle sweetness.
Famous for their blue cheeses, spicy crops and soft, creamy cheeses, Kāpiti cheese (opens in a new window), Whitestone (opens in a new window) and the Puhoi Valley (opens in a new window) are favorites of New Zealanders. Although the colonial goose isn't as popular as it used to be, New Zealanders still regularly enjoy lamb dishes in many forms. .