By Sasha Oelsner
Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2023
New Zealand's cuisine isn't too different from ours, as the friendly banter over who invented pavlova attests.
However, with a melting pot of culinary influences and cooler climates, there’s many exquisite things you must try.
Set off on the right foot
With many experiences in New Zealand within driving distance, road trip snacks are a must. While these are not the classiest of meals, you’ll be grateful you grabbed these before setting off.
Hydrate with a bottle of delicious lemon fizzy drink, L&P, which is short of Lemon and Paeroa. You can visit the town of Paeroa boasting a giant bottle of L&P, and learn about the history of the freshest water in New Zealand.
Get your bag – or bucket, if it’s going to be a long trip – of dangerously moreish Cookie Time biscuits. Coming in a range of cookie sizes and flavours, the bite-size mini cookies are impossible to stop once you’ve started.
What did you say? Popular Kiwi phrases explained.
Dairy: If someone asks you to get something from the dairy, they’re not directing you to a farm. A dairy is a corner store – get your Cookie Time and L&P here.
Quench your thirst
Wine lovers must visit New Zealand’s Marlborough region.
Located at the top of the South Island, the region is home to world-renowned sauvignon blancs and other varietals nestled among cool-climate vineyards. You’ll be spoiled for choice, with Marlborough boasting more than 260 vineyards.
Avoid driving and hire a bike visit some of the 100 cellar doors along the 380km cycle trail such as the pioneering winery Brancott Estate, which claims to be the first site of sauvignon blanc plantings in the region, and the popular Giesen Wines.
If beer is more your flavour, make sure you visit New Zealand’s windy capital, Wellington. Wellington also takes the title for the Craft Beer Capital of the country, with a diverse and world-class boutique beer culture. Grab a map and complete the Craft Beer Trail, learn about different varieties and collect stamps and fun souvenirs which can be posted back to Australia. Stamps can also be collected from food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases, too.
Not just fish and chips
Everywhere you look in New Zealand you’ll see the brilliant blues of the pāua shell. This genus of abalone is collected not only for its stunning shell, which is inlaid in items like beautiful jewellery, it’s also a local delicacy.
You’ll find amazing seafood along most of New Zealand’s coast, including the famously beautiful Kaikōura region. Visit any of the local fish and chip shops in the area for freshly caught crayfish and pāua fritters.
A cultural and culinary must-do while in New Zealand is to try traditional hāngī. Hāngī, or earth oven, is the process of slow cooking and steaming ingredients such as fish, kumara (sweet potato) and other meats and vegetables in a pit in the ground.
The process, which takes about four hours, allows the kai (food) to become extremely tender and infuse with delicious smoky, earthy flavours. You can try hāngī at many places, including the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Rotorua and the Māori Kitchen in Auckland.