16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com
16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand

The Top New Zealand Food, Snacks and Traditional Meals šŸ½ļø [2024] (with prices!)

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The Top New Zealand Food, Snacks and Traditional Meals

Trying the local cuisine is part of the parcel that is travelling, so why not try some of the famous New Zealand food while you’re exploring Aotearoa?

Admittedly, New Zealand isn’t world-famous for its culinary delights, but there are certainly some meals, snacks, desserts and even drinks that Kiwis are extremely proud to claim as their own. As a country with around 15,000 km (9,320 mi) of coastline, it comes as no surprise that seafood is a staple of the Kiwi diet. Additionally, food or “kai” has been a significant part of the Māori culture for hundreds of years producing must-try traditional meals, whether it’s hāngÄ«, fried bread or kawakawa tea.

But first, as an appetiser here are the 2 most popular questions we receive about NZ food from our readers:

What food is New Zealand known for?

New Zealand is celebrated for its diverse and exquisite culinary landscape, featuring iconic dishes such as the traditional Māori hangi, succulent lamb renowned worldwide for its quality, fresh seafood like green-lipped mussels and Bluff oysters, the unique Kiwi pavlova dessert, and the savory meat pie that’s a staple in local cuisine. Our comprehensive list below delves into each of these beloved New Zealand foods, providing insights into their cultural significance, origins, and where to find the best examples of these culinary delights across the country. Stay tuned as we explore the rich flavors that make New Zealand’s food scene truly remarkable.

What is the food like in New Zealand?

The food scene in New Zealand is a vibrant fusion of traditional flavors, international influences, and fresh, high-quality ingredients that celebrate the country’s rich agricultural and maritime heritage. From the hearty and comforting Māori hangi, cooked underground over hot stones, to world-class lamb and beef, seafood like the distinctive green-lipped mussels and succulent Bluff oysters, and innovative takes on global cuisines, New Zealand offers a culinary journey that’s as diverse as its landscapes. Not to forget, the sweet satisfaction of a Kiwi pavlova or the convenience of a savory meat pie, showcasing the range of flavors that New Zealanders love.

With that out of the way, what New Zealand foods are worth sampling? Get a taste of the New Zealand food culture through our list of New Zealand’s famous food.

1. Hāngī

Let’s start with the traditional Māori hāngÄ«! More than just New Zealand cuisine, hāngÄ« is Māori cuisine at its finest. This involves meat and vegetables slow-cooked in an underground oven. Although it was a common cooking method for hundreds of years in New Zealand, today, a hāngÄ« is saved for more special occasions (mainly because it takes all day to prepare!) Prepare to be overfed but extremely satisfied at hāngÄ« buffets served at Maori cultural experiences.

Where to try: Hāngī is available to try in many of the Maori cultural tours around New Zealand. Check out the 10 Places to Experience Maori Culture in New Zealand listing some places to try a hāngī.

What is the price of a hāngī? From NZ$30 at casual dining spots to NZ$130 for a comprehensive cultural experience with buffet in a more formal setting.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

2. Crayfish

Another traditional New Zealand food is crayfish! Crayfish or lobster is a Kiwi favourite mostly because it is something many fishermen and divers pride on catching themselves. Known to sometimes cost up to NZ$80 for a full crayfish, it’s not exactly the most affordable food, but it’s definitely worth a try when the opportunity presents itself. Then you’ll understand why Kiwis go “cray” for crayfish!

Where to try: Try some crayfish in Kaikoura. Restaurants include Nins Bin, Cods & Crayfish, Karaka Lobster and Kaikoura Seafood BBQ.

What is the price of a crayfish? From NZ$25 for a small, whole cooked crayfish at a retailer to over NZ$130 per kilo in restaurants, with some premium dining experiences costing up to NZ$300 for a whole crayfish.

ChristchurchNZ© ChristchurchNZ

3. Kina

Ok, New Zealanders love their seafood so we’ll just hop straight onto another foodie delight from the ocean. Kina is the local name for a type of sea urchin with a hard spiky outer shell and thin fleshy (and edible) insides. It has been a New Zealand delicacy for centuries.

Where to try: Boating trips in the Bay of Islands, Kai Caff Aye in Rotorua, Seafood Bazaar in Hamilton and other fish & chips/seafood takeaways around the country.

What is the price of kina? The cost of kina meat from a New Zealand fish shop is approximately NZ$240 for 8 x 200g pottles.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Kiwi Burger

You’ll either think it’s weird or genius but it’s still a staple of New Zealand cuisine. What makes a Kiwi burger “Kiwi” is the fact it has beetroot and a fried egg along with your standard burger patties, lettuce and whatever else goes between two burger buns. Don’t knock it until you try it!

Where to try: Just about any pub or restaurant with a burger menu, even McDonald’s. However, they are not always listed as a “Kiwi burger”. Just look out for burgers with eggs and beetroot.

What is the price of a kiwi burger? From NZ$5 at fast food restaurants to NZ$30+ at gourmet burger joints

16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Jaffas

Another New Zealand famous food is Jaffas! Jaffas are a confectionery favourite among New Zealanders. Jaffas are small sugar-coated chocolate balls with a subtle orange flavour. You can pick up Jaffas at any supermarket or dairy (convenience store).

Where to try: Available at any supermarket or convenience store.

What is the price of Jaffas? A 250g pack can cost around NZ$12, a 500g pack for about NZ$20, and a 1kg pack for approximately NZ$45. Additionally, they are also available at other retailers with prices starting from around NZ$5.

Pixabay© Pixabay

6. Pavlova

Ask an Australian and they will swear that Oz invented the pavlova. Ask a Kiwi and they will tell you differently. Either way, pavlova is a much-loved dessert in New Zealand made with meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruit. While this dessert can be found on the odd dessert menu in New Zealand, Kiwis traditionally consume this refreshing dessert for Christmas. Try making some yourself following the recipe in our 5 Traditional New Zealand Recipes.

Where to try: Pavlova is on the dessert menu of many New Zealand restaurants, including Cibo in Auckland, Public Kitchen and Bar in Queenstown and Floriditas in Wellington.

What is the price of a pavlova? From NZ$7.50 at local spots to NZ$20+ at upscale restaurants.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

7. L&P

We’ll sneak a beverage in early on this list just because it’s very proudly Kiwi. L&P stands for “Lemon & Paeroa” named after the North Island town it was invented in. It is as common as any soft drink in New Zealand, tasting a bit more lemony and sweeter than Sprite.

Where to try: You can pick up L&P from any supermarket, dairy or fast food joint, but nothing matches the full experience of posing in front of the giant L&P bottle in Paeroa, Waikato.

What is the price of an L&P can? For a single can of Lemon & Paeroa (L&P), the iconic New Zealand soft drink, prices start from NZ$3. For a pack of 8 cans, prices can go up to NZ$14.

25 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

8. Whitebait Fritters

Don’t visit the West Coast of the South Island without trying whitebait fritters. Whitebait is a collective term for immature fish, usually around one to two inches long. You’ll see heaps of keen “whitebaiters” setting up temporary shacks and jetties along the river mouths of the West Coast between mid-August and November. What they catch is used to make whitebait fritters; think of them as a fishy omelette. However, be aware that this typical food in New Zealand is controversial as overfishing may endanger the stock of local fish in New Zealand’s rivers.

Where to try: The Landing in Franz Josef, Clocktower Cafe in Hokitika, Hard Antler Bar & Restaurant in Haast and Johnny’s Restaurant in Westport and Buccleughā€™s on High in Greymouth.

What is the price of whitebait fritters? From NZ$15 at local cafes to NZ$35+ at high-end restaurants.

Pixabay© Pixabay

9. Manuka Honey

A classic food of New Zealand: world-famous manuka honey! Highly sought on the international market, manuka honey is acclaimed for its medicinal purposes. The purer the manuka component of the honey is, the healthy (and more expensive) it is. Manuka honey also makes a great souvenir to bring back home.

Where to try: There are plenty of opportunities to try this sweet treat around New Zealand, from supermarkets to dedicated honey shops. Some major honey shops include Huka Honey Hive in Taupo, Waireka Honey in Manawatu, Arataki Honey in Hawke’s Bay and Garston Hunny Shop near Queenstown.

What is the price of manuka honey? The price of Manuka honey in New Zealand can vary widely depending on the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) rating, brand, and quantity. For instance, HealthPost NZ lists Manuka honey prices starting from NZ$13 for a 250gm jar of BioHoney Manuka Honey MG100+. On the higher end, Manuka Honey of NZ features products like The True Honey Co. MGO 1250+ Golden Pair Gift Set Manuka Honey (26+UMF) for NZ$540 for 2 x 250g. These prices reflect the premium nature of Manuka honey, especially those with higher UMF or MGO ratings, indicating higher levels of bioactive compounds.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Kumara

Kumara isn’t just a sweet potato; it is an epic sweet potato. Kumara was brought to New Zealand by the early Māori settlers and still remains a favourite vegetable in New Zealand. The best way to try kumara is in a hāngÄ« (see above), but there are heaps of ways you can incorporate kumara into your own cooking. We’ll make it easy for you; check out Why Every Traveller in New Zealand Should Cook With Kumara.

Where to try: Kumara is available to purchase in supermarkets. Otherwise, kumara fries are a popular feature on restaurant and takeaway menus across New Zealand.

What is the price of kumara? A rough estimate for a side of Kumara fries could range from NZ$6 to NZ$12, depending on the restaurant’s location and the serving size. Keep in mind, prices in high-end restaurants or for specialty versions of Kumara fries could be higher.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

11. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Kiwis prefer hokey pokey ice cream (that’s ice cream with pieces of caramelised honeycomb) over pretty much anything. If there’s only one ice cream flavour you’re going to try in New Zealand, make it hokey pokey!

Where to try: While you can find hokey pokey ice cream wherever ice cream is served. A few recommendations include Giapo in Auckland, Patagonia Chocolates in Queenstown, Rush Munro’s of NZ in Hastings and Rollickin Gelato Cafe in Christchurch.

What is the price of hokey pokey ice cream? From NZ$5 at local ice cream shops to NZ$15+ at premium outlets.

Giapo© Giapo

12. Paua

A seafood delicacy that we just couldn’t ignore, paua is the local name for a large sea snail. You can eat paua in a variety of ways from plain old raw to curries to paua fritters. What’s more, paua shells are the national choice of ashtray for all you smokers out there! Alternatively, paua shells are often used in New Zealand jewellery and other decorative souvenirs.

Where to try: Marinovich’s Seafood Restaurant in New Plymouth, Amisfield Restaurant & Cellar Door in Queenstown, Billypot at the Auckland Fish Market in Auckland and Cobden Takeaways in Greymouth.

What is the price of Paua? In New Zealand, restaurants can charge up to NZ$70 for paua dishes, reflecting its status as a premium seafood delicacy however paua fritters can be found in many fish & chips shops for only a few dollars.

Imgur© Imgur

13. Lamb

As New Zealand’s biggest export meat and highly praised all over the world, lamb is a must-try in New Zealand. Roast lamb or lamb cutlets will be on the menu of most high-end restaurants and even in some pubs. Trust us, some of the most delicate New Zealand dishes will incorporate lamb. For more information on trying lamb in New Zealand, see Where to Try Traditional New Zealand Food?

Where to try: Mokoia Restaurant in Rotorua, Brantry Eatery in Taupo, Cashmere Lounge in Wellington, Vault 21 in Dunedin and Captains Restaurant in Queenstown.

What is the price of a lamb dish? Generally, you can expect to pay between NZ$30 and NZ$40 for a main lamb dinner course at most restaurants. However, at high-end restaurants, prices for a main lamb dish can range from NZ$40 to NZ$100.

Tourism NZ© Tourism NZ

14. Savoury Pies

… Or just “pies” in New Zealand. Pies with savoury fillings like mince and cheese, steak and cheese, and even fish pies are the go-to lunch at any gas station or bakery. Kiwi pies warm the soul and fuel you for a great New Zealand road trip!

Where to try: Fairlie Bakehouse in Fairlie, The Burleigh in Blenheim, Gold Star Bakery Patrick’s Pies in Rotorua, Fat Bastard Pies in Invercargill and Sheffield Pie Shop in Canterbury.

What is the price of savoury pies? Savoury pies in New Zealand can vary in price from around NZ$4.50 for more standard offerings found in various gas stations to NZ$15.00 for gourmet or specialty pies from certain shops or restaurants.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

15. Fish & Chips

The definition of “New Zealand food culture” has landed. With more than 15,000 km of coastline and a hell of a lot of Kiwis who like to fish, you can bet on some good “fish n’ chips” in New Zealand! A simple meal of fried battered fish and chips (fries), fish & chips can be found in most towns in New Zealand. For our top fish & chips picks, again, see Where to Try Traditional New Zealand Food?

Where to try: Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market in Tauranga, FishSmith in Auckland, Mangonui Fish Shop in Northland, Raglan Fish in Raglan and Kai Kart in Stewart Island.

What is the price of fish & chips? From NZ$10 to NZ$20 for a standard serving at local shops.

25 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

16. Southland Cheese Rolls

A speciality of the south, Southland cheese rolls, also known as Southland sushi, is virtually unknown outside of the Southland and Otago regions. The concept is simple: a slice of bread with cheese rolled up like sushi with a generous helping of butter then grilled to perfection. It’s cheap and something to warm you up on a cold Southland day. Ask any South Islanders about New Zealand’s famous food and cheese rolls is bound to “roll” off their tongue.

Where to try: The Batch Cafe in Invercargill, The Crib Cafe in Riverton, Rata in Queenstown, Grain & Seed Cafe in Cromwell, The Good Oil Cafe in Dunedin and Meccaspresso Cafe in Invercargill.

What is the price of southland cheese rolls? From NZ$3 to NZ$7 per roll at local cafes.

16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

17. Bluff Oysters

It’s time to put those shucking skills to the test because you’re going to want to try Bluff oysters. Another speciality of the south, Bluff oysters are otherwise known as dredge oysters. The Bluff oyster season runs from March until August where oysters are dredged from the cool clean waters off the coast of Bluff and shipped off to just about every seafood restaurant and fish & chips shop in the country. For a real Bluff oyster experience, don’t miss the Bluff Oyster Festival typically taking place on the last weekend of May – see more famous festivals in our guide to the Top New Zealand Events.

Where to try: At most restaurants selling seafood during the Bluff oyster season. Otherwise, places to try fresh from the source include Fowlers Oysters, Oyster Cove and Galley Takeaways in Bluff.

What is the price of Bluff oysters? Some restaurants offer Bluff Oysters at around NZ$35 to NZ$40 per dozen for raw oysters, reflecting their status as a delicacy and their seasonal availability. Additionally, dining experiences that include Bluff Oysters, such as special oyster-themed menus, might start at about NZ$40 per person, which could include a selection of six Bluff Oysters served fresh, with options to add more at an additional cost.

16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© Miles Holden - Tourism New Zealand

18. Real Fruit Ice Cream

Another type of ice cream to keep an eye out for is real fruit ice cream. More specifically, keep an eye out for signs screaming “real fruit ice cream” on the roadside during the summer seasons when many berry farms crank up the whippy machine to serve vanilla whip mixed with fresh fruit. There’s nothing more refreshing to break up your road trip.

Where to try: Ruakura Berry Shop in Hamilton, Zaberri in Auckland, Toad Hall in Motueka, Whatawhata Berry Farm in Hamilton, Fuse Real Fruit Ice Cream in Christchurch and Berry Tasty in Napier.

What is the price of real fruit ice cream? From NZ$5 for a kids cone to NZ$8 for a large waffle cone or tub at a roadside stall.

16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

19. Chocolate Fish

We told you New Zealanders are obsessed with seafood, so much so that it inspires their confectionary items. Chocolate fish are chocolate-coated marshmallows shaped like a, well, you guessed it. You’ll find this traditional New Zealand snack at any supermarket or dairy. You’re also likely to be offered one as a quick energy boost on tourist activities. Speaking of tourist activities, have you seen our 101 Things to Do in New Zealand yet?

Where to try: Any supermarket or convenience store in New Zealand.

What is the price of chocolate fish? From NZ$3 for individual chocolate fish at a cafe to NZ$25 for a pack of 42 at a chocolaterie. Additionally, supermarkets offers them repacked at NZ$1.50 each.

16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

20. Greenshell Mussels

You’re right, it has been a while since we featured any real seafood on this list of the best foods in New Zealand… Another fishy favourite you can delight in is greenshell mussels! Also known as green-lipped mussels, these native shellfish can be found all over New Zealand but are particularly famous in the “Greenshell Mussel Capital”, the town of Havelock on the South Island.

Where to try: The Mussell Pot in Havelock, Greenshell Mussel Cruise in Picton (available on Viator and Klook), Leuven Belgium Beer Cafe in Wellington and Blackbeards Smokehouse in the Coromandel.

What is the price of greenshell mussels? From NZ$12 at casual eateries to NZ$30+ in fine dining restaurants.

16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

21. New Zealand Wine

Do you know what goes well with all that seafood? Sauvignon Blanc. Luckily, Sauvignon Blanc or “Sav”, as the locals call it, dominates the prolific wine industry in New Zealand, which takes up more than 22,085 hectares (54,570 acres) of land across the country. Some of the top wine regions include Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay, Otago and Gisborne, so be sure to stop by the wineries for a tasting.

Where to try: See our 10 Best Wine Tours in New Zealand for inspiration.

What is the price of New Zealand wine? For a glass of wine in New Zealand restaurants, prices range from NZ$9 to NZ$15. A bottle of wine starts from NZ$35 upwards.

16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© Chris McLennan - Tourism New Zealand

22. New Zealand Barbecue

You haven’t experienced summer in New Zealand without a Kiwi “sizzle up”! New Zealanders love the act of cooking sausages, steaks or whatever meat and fish they can get their hands on, either on an outside gas barbecue or a hotplate barbecue. Hell, you can even find coin-operated barbecues in most New Zealand parks!

Where to try: Barbecues are very much a local and community food experience in New Zealand, but you’ll often have them at the end of adventure tours, like white water rafting, or at community events. Look out for “sausage sizzles” outside of supermarkets when kids are fundraising.

What is the price of New Zealand barbecue? For a New Zealand BBQ at restaurants or during a tour, you can expect prices to range from NZ$50 to NZ$80 per person for dinner, plus drinks.

16 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

23. Feijoa

This little fruit might be native to South America, but much like the kiwifruit (which should also be on this list, right?), New Zealand has claimed it for its own. Stocked in the supermarkets and farmers’ markets between March and May, feijoas pack a strong flavour that you’ll either love or hate. Additionally, you’ll find many New Zealand fruit drinks with feijoa in the mix.

Where to try: The seasonal fruit can be picked up in supermarkets between March and May.

What is the price of feijoas? Loose feijoas in New Zealand supermarkets are priced around NZ$8 per kilogram.

20 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© Pexels

24. Rēwena Bread

One of the more difficult Māori foods to find, rēwena bread is a sourdough bread made with a potato starter also known as a “bug”. Some bakers even use kumara as a potato starter (see point #10). Another type of bread that is popular with Māori is fried bread, which you can try at some Māori cultural tours.

Where to try: Jackson’s Rewena Bread in Whanganui and Karaka Cafe in Wellington.

What is the price of rēwena bread? A loaf of rēwena bread can cost upwards of NZ$10-$15 in speciality bakeries.

20 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© Unsplash

25. New Zealand Cheese

You might already know about New Zealand’s bountiful dairy industry so it comes as no surprise that artisan cheese is pretty big in New Zealand. Head to the supermarket to put together a cheese platter during your travels or check out one of the cheese factories where tastings are encouraged.

Where to try: Whitestone Cheese in Oamaru, Barry Bay Cheese in Akaroa, C’est Cheese in Featherston and Gibbston Valley Cheesery in Arrowtown.

What is the price of NZ cheese? Cheeseboard options in New Zealand restaurants vary, with selections like the Formaggio Three Cheese Board priced at NZ$40.

20 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

26. Coffee

The fern latte art atop your mug is a staple of a morning (and most afternoons) in New Zealand. The coffee culture is huge here, so get wised up on your lattes, flat whites, espressos, chai lattes, and even “fluffies” if you’re travelling with kids. Check out our favourite coffees in the cafe capital, 5 Cool Cafes With the Best Coffee in Wellington.

Where to try: Caffe Lā€™affare in Wellington, Millers Coffee in Auckland, The Flight Coffee Hangar in Wellington, Lyttelton Coffee Company in Christchurch and Arrosta Coffee Roasting Co. in Palmerston North.

What is the price of coffee in New Zealand? From NZ$4 for an Americano (Long Black) to NZ$7 for more specialized drinks like Cappuccino or Latte.

20 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

27. Craft Beer

Everyone is a brewer in New Zealand or at least it feels like it with more than 160 breweries and microbreweries across the country, not to mention all of the hobbyists. It’s not hard to find a really hoppy craft beer at any bar or licensed restaurant in New Zealand but if you want to really dive into the trade, be sure to jump onto one of the 10 Best Brewery Tours in New Zealand.

Where to try: Monteith’s Brewery in Greymouth, Beerworks Wanaka in Wanaka, Arc Brewing Co. in Dunedin, Garage Project Cellar Door in Wellington and Dodson Street in Blenheim.

What is the price of craft beers in NZ? For a pint of craft beer in New Zealand bars, prices generally range from NZ$9 to NZ$14, varying by location and the specific craft beer selection offered.

20 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand© DunedinNZ

28. Kawakawa Tea

Made with a native plant, kawakawa tea is a herbal tea that is said to have all sorts of health benefits. Kawakawa (piper excelsum) is commonly found along New Zealand’s coastline bush and is identified by its distinctive green heart-shaped leaves. Either brew some kawakawa leaves for yourself or buy prepackaged kawakawa loose tea or tea bags from supermarkets or some cafes.

Where to try: Available in some supermarkets and some cafes, such as Javaman Cafe in Whakatane, Haumoana Coffee in Hastings and Chapter Book and Tea Shop in Auckland.

What is the price of kawakawa tea? Kawakawa tea prices in New Zealand vary, starting from NZ$4 for a sample size to NZ$100 for larger quantities.

27 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand [2023]© NZPocketGuide.com

More About New Zealand Food (or Kai)

That’s it for our ultimate list of the New Zealand food you have to try. If your mouth is still watering, get some more gastronomical inspiration in our following food guides:

Finally, plan your whole trip to New Zealand with an emphasis on food following our New Zealand Food Itinerary: 4 Weeks, 3 Weeks, 2 Weeks or 1 Week.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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