A small island nation on the outskirts of the Pacific Rim, New Zealand's gastronomic reputation belies its relative size. A blend of European, Asian and Polynesian influences, New Zealand food is globally renowned, driven by the seasons and heavily influenced by local produce and climate variation. This unique combination has resulted in a remarkable fresh food culture unlike any other.
Frequent national and regional festivals offer a wide range of gourmet food and boutique wine while farmers markets - held regularly in most towns - highlight fresh local produce. For those on vacation these markets are an ideal starting point to experiencing New Zealand cuisine.
Strong indigenous roots give a unique take on modern kiwi fare, and traditional Māori meals are becoming prevalent on restaurant menus. Notable Maori chefs include Charles Royal and Grant Kitchen.
A growing organic movement brings has brought a new awareness of food origin and quality. New Zealand lamb appears in fine dining establishments worldwide but this isn’t the only thing Kiwis do well. Fresh produce and just-caught seafood are staples in any restaurant, and enterprising chefs are continually finding new ways to treat ingredients.
As mentioned above, farmers markets display a variety of fresh produce along with homemade preserves, bread, wild honey and free-range eggs. Many New Zealanders do their entire weekly shop at these kinds of markets where an emphasis is placed on raw unprocessed ingredients at a reasonable price.
New Zealand is a laid back culture and this is reflected in the way food is prepared. Summer means barbeques outside, while winters bring simple hearty meals by the fire. While it’s upmarket eateries and fine-dining restaurants continue to focus on gourmet gastronomy, no-fuss kiwi home cooking is proving popular. Many travelers enjoy an authentic experience and boutique lodges and country bed and breakfast’s offer the opportunity for private dining.
A European past
Stemming from its British colonial heritage - meat, vege, pies and fish & chips were the original family fare. British influence continued in New Zealand until well into the 20th century when an influx of European and Asian immigrants kicked off an expansion of the kiwi palate.
Fine-dining in New Zealand is reasonably new, up until the late 1960’s family’s rarely went out for dinner. While basic British meals are no longer a go-to, fish & chips wrapped in newspaper have remained a classic kiwi staple, and are served across the country with tomato sauce. Other iconic foods are hokey-pokey ice cream, mussels, Lemon and Paeroa, pavlova, reduced cream and onion dip and marmite.
On a global stage
Today, New Zealand food is a fusion of cultures but continues to be heavily influenced by the Pacific Rim. Synonymous with fresh, quality food its gastronomic reputation is one of innovation and excellence.