Are you ready to embark on a culinary adventure in the land of the long white cloud? New Zealand is not only renowned for its breathtaking landscapes but also for its unique and quintessentially Kiwi foods that will tantalise your taste buds.
From the classic combo of chips and dip to the mouthwatering delights of fresh feijoas to the savoury goodness of a steak and cheese pie, this country has a delightful array of flavours waiting to be enjoyed. So, pack your appetite and get ready to indulge in these culinary treasures that represent the Kiwi food culture.
Chips and Dip (or “Chups and Dup”)
Yes, not only is this one of our national treasures, but it’s also a prime way to hear the New Zealand accent in all its glory. Kiwis keep it simple when it comes to potato-based snacks, calling both hot chips and crisps – chips. To be fair, you’ll usually have enough context to know which one they’re talking about.
In this line-up, I’m referring to crisps paired with an absolute classic – onion dip. A relatively simple concoction, onion dip consists of a tin of reduced cream, a packet of Maggi onion soup and a teaspoon of the acid of your choice – malt vinegar or lemon juice are the usual culprits. Don’t knock this one til you’ve tried it.
Being a fairly warm country, New Zealand is lucky to have a glut of fruit year-round, and in March-April, it’s feijoa season. So overwhelmed does the country get with feijoas that you’ll find boxes of them curbside with an invitiation/plea to “help yourself”.
This juicy delicacy has a flavour profile that’s difficult to describe but sits somewhere between a citrus and a tropical fruit. You’ll find many a happy child placed at the bottom of a feijoa tree in March, armed only with a teaspoon to rip the thing in two and scoop out the innards. Make sure you get your fix.
A Traditional Dessert
We’re a nation with a sweet tooth, so it’s not surprising that dessert lovers are well-catered for. Pop into any high street bakery, and you’ll find an array of traditional favourites, just like Nana used to make. From the coconutty lamington to school canteen favourites – the custard square and lolly log – you’re sure to find something you love.
For a special occasion, make sure to push the boat out with a pavlova – a dessert whose providence is ferociously fought over but unmistakably Kiwi.
Steak and Cheese Pie
Nowhere in the world will you get a better warm midday snack than New Zealand. Every bakery, petrol station and corner store (known as a “dairy”) will stock a good selection of pies, perfectly warmed and ready to eat. While there are plenty of options for every palate, steak and cheese is one of the nation’s favourites, making it a great place to start.
Those who are more adventurous may want to try the butter chicken pie (New Zealand’s answer to chicken tikka masala), the smoked fish pie or even the creamed paua pie, which tastes much, much better than it looks.
Exploring these quintessentially Kiwi foods is not only a feast for the tastebuds but also a way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Each region has its own local delicacies, from city to coast – so be sure to pack an open mind and empty stomach.
Sarah Todhunter is a writer, mother-of-two and a dual citizen of New Zealand and the UK. As the sole proprietor of Fyxen Copywriters, she has navigated the ups and downs of moving a business and family across hemispheres, sharing the lessons she’s learned along the way. Find her on LinkedIn or anywhere good coffee is served.