NZ lamb bbq cuisine food
NZ lamb bbq cuisine food
Taste local New Zealand cuisine


New Zealand burst into the culinary scene with a fusion of local produce, innovation and flair. A multicultural country that blends flavours from all over the world. To blend in as a local, enjoy fish and chips with a side of tomato sauce or a mince and cheese pie is a popular choice.

Kiwi’s love to invite friends and family over for a barbecue. Don’t be surprised if you receive an invite too! Experience a traditional Maori Hangi, a process of cooking in a steamed pit with heated stones. Or are you more interested in wine? Whatever your preference, New Zealand has something for you.

Barbecue dinner with local hosts | New Zealand holiday
Be inspired by New Zealand's unique blend of flavours in the great outdoors

What is New Zealand cuisine?

When you think of New Zealand, you may only think of untouched nature, stunning scenic drives, Maori culture and friendly locals. However, New Zealand also has many culinary delights. New Zealanders love to be standing behind their Kiwi, (the name they give to their barbecue), all day long. New Zealand also has some of the world's best oysters, fine wines and unique Maori cuisine. Are you ready to go on a culinary journey through New Zealand?

The local delicacies

From a cosy eatery to a luxury restaurant, New Zealanders are always ready to share a taste of New Zealand with you. They are not only proud of the beautiful sights in New Zealand, but also of their local delicacies. We have listed a number of them for you.

Bluff oysters, New Zealand's best-known oysters

The pearl of the south is called the Bluff Oysters, but they are actually the best oysters in the oyster world. These oysters come from the town of Bluff, also known as the oldest European settlement and the departure point to Stewart Island. Oyster season is from March to August and the Bluff Oyster Festival takes place in May.

Fresh oysters in Bluff | New Zealand holiday
Try bluff oysters, the best oysters in the world
© TravelEssence

British influences, fish and chips

When you take a closer look at food in New Zealand, British influences can also be seen. Fish and chips are still a New Zealand delicacy. Visit one of the local fish shops and try the ‘real’ fish & chips! The fresh varieties of fish vary from Hapuku, Cod Terakhi, Roughy and Dory. Not a fan of eating fish? Then the breaded hot dog on a stick is a good option. To finish this dish, drink a ginger beer.

Fish and chips | New Zealand holiday
Enjoy fish & chips - Kiwi-style, by the beach
Aerial view of people digging their own hot pools at hot water beach
You can find fish & chips in almost every town in New Zealand
© Graeme Murray

Meat pie, the traditional savoury pie

Like the Brits, New Zealanders love savoury pies. These warm handmade puff pastry tarts with meat and/or vegetable filling are found throughout the country. They are available for approximately $4.50 NZD, but just like fish and chips, only the ‘real’ ones are tasty. Award-winning pies can be found at places like The Famous Sheffield's Pie Shop, located approximately 45 minutes drive from Christchurch.

New Zealand pies | New Zealand holiday
Can you tell the difference between a Kiwi pie and British pie?
© Fitnish media

A Kiwi must-try, Whitebait fritters

According to the locals, whitebait fritters are very tasty, even if it may not sound like it. Such a fritter is made on the barbecue with raw white fish and a beaten egg. This raw fish comes from the river and can only be caught for two months a year. A unique fish species, for which you pay approximately $70 NZD per kilo. Do you dare to try?

Try your luck fly fishing in the South Island


With over 14,000 kilometres of coastline, New Zealand is a haven for fresh and delicious seafood. Savour an assortment of local seafood ranging from lobster, crayfish, whitebait, Mt Cook Salmon, Green-lipped mussels, snapper and more.

In Maori ‘kai’ means food and ‘koura’ means crayfish. Yes, this town lives up to its name and has some of the best crayfish in the world. You can indulge in delicious and freshly caught crayfish from a local street van or in a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

One of the most famous street vans to savour crayfish is ‘Nin Bins’. Owned and operated by a local family since 1977. Their menu is simple and affordable, serving crayfish and mussels. And with the unbelievable views, it is a true Kiwi experience. Are you ready to savour crayfish by the sea?

Two people sitting on a bench near a food truck with a view of the ocean
Savour crayfish at ‘Nin Bins,’ owned and operated by a local family since 1977
Enjoy fresh and local produce in Kaikoura
© Graeme Murray

Traditional Maori cuisine

The Maori prepare their dishes in a traditional way. Have an authentic experience tasting local food cooked in a traditional Maori way in an earth oven - called a Hangi. A way for the community to come together, this method of cooking involves wrapping baskets of food in a damp cloth and burying them with fire-heated rocks in a pit. The earth traps the heat and steam, slow-cooking the food to perfection. It’s real food made love.

Traditional Hangi | New Zealand holiday
Experience a traditional 'hangi' in Rotorua

Vegan & vegetarian

Are you vegan or vegetarian? No problem, New Zealand has plenty of options for you! In fact, one in ten New Zealanders are vegetarian or mostly eat meat-free. With a fresh and modern outlook on food, you can mostly find at least a vegetarian/ vegan option or substitute at most food places.

There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian dishes to try in New Zealand

Dining out

Not all restaurants in New Zealand are licensed to serve alcohol, so the 'BYO' (bring your own) rule allows you to bring your own drinks when dining out. And generally, the dress code for dining out is quite informal. So you don't have to dress smartly if you want to have a bite to eat in New Zealand. What is appreciated is tipping. As a general rule, it is customary to give a tip of approximately 10% of the total price.

New Zealand is the main producer of lamb in the world
Fish and vegetables delicately plated for fine dining
Auckland has a booming culinary scene, offering a diverse range of delicious food and wine to suit all appetites


The supermarkets can be found all over New Zealand and have a wide range of product. During your holiday Downunder, some places are remote and therefore grocery shopping may need to be thought of in advance, before arriving at your accommodation. We will provide you with more information about this for you, prior to your departure.

Please be aware that some places have limited trading hours, especially on Sunday. And on some public holidays, for example, Good Friday, you are not able to purchase alcohol from the liquor store. We recommend planning in advance to avoid any food and drink shortages.

We also understand very well that during your journey through New Zealand, you do not want to eat out every night. That is why many of our hosts look forward to preparing the tastiest meals for you. And many of our accommodations have a kitchen to cook yourself home-made meals. We believe this makes you feel more at home in New Zealand.

Savour a home-cooked meal, prepared by your local Kiwi host
Wake up to a fresh breakfast in one of our unique accommodations

Top 5 wine regions in New Zealand

Compared to France, New Zealand is a young wine country, but where it took France centuries to create perfect wines, New Zealand has gained a strong reputation in the international wine world in less than 30 years. The country has a dozen wine regions that are spread across the North Island and South Island. But where can you sample the best wines in the country? We have listed the five best wine regions for you:

  • Marlborough: Have you ever tasted New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? If so, it’s quite likely it came from the Marlborough wine region. With a production of no less than 70% of New Zealand wines, it is the most famous wine region in New Zealand.
  • Hawke's Bay: This is New Zealand's oldest wine region. And with 72 wineries, it is also the third-largest wine region. Dominated by red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, a visit while in New Zealand is a must.
  • Central Otago: After Burgundy in France, this wine region is one of the best regions in the world for Pinot Noir.
  • Gisborne: This is New Zealand's Chardonnay capital and has the world's easternmost vineyards.
  • Canterbury: The two main wine regions in these regions are Waipara Valley and the plains surrounding Christchurch. Are you a fan of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir? Indulge yourself during a visit to these beautiful wine regions.
You will be spoilt for choice for different wines in New Zealand
A woman standing in front of a wooden bar top with five bottle of wine and wine glasses
Enjoy wine tasting in Queenstown

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At TravelEssence, we specialise in crafting custom-made holidays that take you off the beaten path and create memories to last a lifetime. We believe in connecting with the heart and soul of a place, introducing you to the locals who call it home. Engage in conversations with fascinating individuals who will share their stories, traditions, and way of life, leaving an indelible mark on your journey.