Travelling as a Vegetarian in New Zealand
In a country where dairy farming is its main industry and where hunting and fishing are part of the Kiwi lifestyle, it’s hard to imagine that travelling New Zealand as a vegetarian would be an “easy” experience. However, with 10% of New Zealanders being vegetarian, and with thousands of vegetarians visiting the country every year, finding vegetarian food while travelling New Zealand is getting easier and easier. After reading this vegetarian travel guide to New Zealand, you’ll realise that fuelling yourself throughout your trip will be a breeze.
Vegetarian food can be found in New Zealand supermarkets, on the menus of almost every cafe and restaurant, and even in accommodations that serve meals. What’s more, there are even specialised restaurants and accommodations across the country where you have the opportunity to try some sensations New Zealand vegetarian food.
5 Tips for Vegetarian Travel in New Zealand
- Spend some time in Auckland for the best vegetarian foodie experiences in New Zealand
- When doing a tour that includes food, always let the tour operator know your dietary requirements at least a day before the tour
- Popular New Zealand chocolate bar brand Whittaker’s offers amazing vegan options. The brand can be found in almost every New Zealand supermarket and convenience store
- If you want to learn more about living a sustainable vegetarian lifestyle, do some WWOOFing with vegetarian hosts!
- For animal-lovers, consider doing some voluntourism in conservation work!
Vegetarian Food on Your Flight to New Zealand
Probably one of the first food encounters you’ll have on your trip to New Zealand is with your in-flight meal. When making your flight booking, you always get the opportunity to specify any dietary requirements including vegetarianism. If you haven’t informed the airline of your dietary needs, contact them before your flight. Most airlines need 24 hours notice before your departure time.
The vegetarian option for in-flight meals is almost always strict vegetarian foods with no dairy or egg products. It might not be the most amazing food, but hey, it’s airline food.
Vegetarian Food in New Zealand Supermarkets
One of the best ways to know exactly what you’re eating, and to save money on food in New Zealand, is to cook for yourself. Luckily, making your own meals is pretty easy in New Zealand thanks to the huge range of tourist accommodations that have kitchens.
New Zealand Accommodation with Kitchens
- Backpacker Hostels
- Holiday Parks
- Self-contained motel rooms/units
- Some motels
- Holiday homes
Some hotels may have a communal kitchen or rooms with a kitchen. We recommend always checking if an accommodation has the right facilities for your needs before booking.
For more information on these accommodations, see 10 Types of Cheap Accommodation in New Zealand.
New Zealand Supermarkets
New Zealand supermarkets and convenient stores are well stocked with vegan and vegetarian options. They have a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, canned vegetables and other vegetarian substitutes like tofu and vegetarian sausages, for example. However, expect vegan versions of dairy products, like yoghurt and cheese, to be on the expensive side (some cheese being around NZ$50/kg!).
The three main New Zealand supermarkets are PakN’Save, New World and Countdown. You will find one or more of these stores in the larger towns and cities around New Zealand. In small towns and villages, there is likely to be convenience stores, otherwise known as “Dairies” in New Zealand. The largest cities, like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, have specialised supermarkets for particular diets where you’ll find a wider selection of vegan and vegetarian options.
For information on New Zealand supermarkets, check out Food Shopping in New Zealand.
Vegetarian Meals to Cook in New Zealand Accommodation
Since most of you reading this are vegetarian, no doubt you have your own meals that you like to cook. However, for those of you perhaps travelling with a vegetarian and have no idea what to cook, make sure you check out our “Travel Recipes” articles where every one of our articles has some vegetarian options.
Vegetarian Meals Included in Your Accommodation
Holidays are all about treating yourself, right? And if that’s your mantra then you’re probably going to want to stay in accommodation with meals included. When doing choosing this option as a vegetarian, make sure that you let your hosts know that you are vegan or vegetarian.
Accommodation with Meals Included
While most accommodations that offer food will provide a vegetarian option if requested, except for a few that will explicitly say “no vegetarians” which has been known to happen, you risk the old “mushroom in a bun” burger as hosts consider the vegetarian meal as an afterthought.
If you want to actually try good vegetarian or vegan food, either request to see the accommodation’s menu or choose an accommodation that advertises as catering to vegetarians. Vegetarian homestays/farmstays/bed & breakfasts will have put some real thought and effort into their vegetarian menu.
Vegetarian-friendly Accommodation in New Zealand
- The Green House, Gisborne, North Island
- Heritage Auckland, Auckland, North Island
- Eco Villa, Christchurch, South Island
- Rongo Dinner Bed & Breakfast, Karamea, West Coast, South Island
- Te Paranui Permaculture Homestead, Koromiko, Marlborough, South Island
- Kimi Ora Eco Resort, Kaiteriteri, Nelson Tasman, South Island
Vegetarian Food When Eating Out
When it comes to cafes and restaurants in New Zealand, you will see menus with vegetarian and gluten-free meals without a problem. It’s very unlikely that you will struggle to find vegetarian food in any eateries in New Zealand. Plus, Asian restaurants are very well represented across the country offering a wealth of vegetarian options.
However, you might struggle a little bit more if looking for vegan food, as not all menus will have vegan options. Unfortunately, this means that vegans will need to do a little bit of forward-planning and may want to stick to the main New Zealand cities to try some good vegan restaurants.