The Best Indigenous New Zealand Ingredients for Cooking
Whether you live in New Zealand, want to look out for local ingredients while you’re travelling, or just want to get some cultural inspiration for your home cooking, learning about local ingredients is never a bad idea. There’s a lot to love when it comes to traditional New Zealand foods, especially when the ingredients they’re made with are as tasty as they are diverse.
With that in mind, dive into this list of the best New Zealand ingredients you can cook with!
For more about indigenous New Zealand cooking ingredients and food, check out the 16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand and Why Every Traveller in New Zealand Should Cook With Kumara.
Primarily found in coastal regions, kokihi is commonly known as New Zealand spinach. It’s most often used in soups, salads, and stews. What’s more, kokihi is extremely healthy being rich in Vitamin A, C and B6, as well as riboflavin, calcium and iron.
Horopito is a naturally occurring pepper plant that is often called the New Zealand pepper tree. However, this is no regular type of pepper – horopito has a much spicier and more acidic flavour to it. Horopito is an excellent new seasoning to incorporate into a wide assortment of balanced meals, and you’ll be glad you experimented with it once you taste your creation. It’s a little bit of New Zealand that you can easily blend into your home cooking.
Also commonly known as bush asparagus, Pikopiko is one of the few native ferns that are safe to consume in New Zealand (the rest are carcinogenic). It’s great for adding a ‘foresty’ touch to your dishes and is something unique to New Zealand cuisine.
Living among the rock beds of freshwater swamps, lakes, streams, and ponds, koura is a native species of crayfish in New Zealand. While they are small, what they lack in size they make up for in taste.
This native seaweed is often eaten raw. Karengo can also be dried and ground for use as a seasoning in your favourite dishes. It can be found in the coastal regions of New Zealand.
This is a plant that grows abundantly around New Zealand and is even a pesky weed in the eyes of some gardeners. However, it can be used in cooking to add a unique bitterness to a dish. It goes well with meat and vegetable stews and in salads.
Taewa is a collective name for many varieties of potatoes traditionally grown in New Zealand, which are commonly known as ‘Maori potatoes’. Tutaekuri is one of these varieties, most notable for its dark purple skin and lighter purple flesh. It’s great when baked or boiled.
This tree is common near the coast, and also in the damper areas of bushland in New Zealand. The signature heart-shaped leaves are a common seasoning in New Zealand cooking and have a light, minty flavour. Kawakawa tea is also a favourite Maori drink.
This is a type of watercress plant that is most often seen growing across lakes and rivers in New Zealand. It actually has a mustard-type taste to it and is usually used in place of puha (mentioned earlier) in many meals.
Of course, we can’t talk about New Zealand ingredients without mentioning manuka, the tree from which manuka honey is derived. It can be used in the same way traditional honey is used (like marinating bacon) and is known to have medicinal benefits as well. It’s not just the honey that’s valuable from the manuka tree – the bark can be a great way to add aroma when smoking meats. What’s more, picking up a pot of manuka honey is an excellent souvenir to take home.