New Zealand’s natural beauty is admired around the world, but over the years, the local gastronomic scene has found a distinct appeal that is evocative because of the location. Now a place known for fresh local produce and excellent foodie experiences. Here are our top 5:
1) The Restaurant Scene in Auckland and Wellington
New Zealand’s capital Wellington and its largest city Auckland offers food lovers an eclectic range of gastronomic delights. Both cities are home to incredible restaurants, from small quirky cafes, to fine dining restaurants, to authentic ethnic spots with cuisine from all over the world. Some personal favourites in Auckland include Odette’s Eatery which is excellent for breakfast/brunch, Amano for top quality modern Italian, Gemmayze Street for delicious Lebanese or Ebisu a trendy Japanese spot. You may even decide to branch out a little and catch the ferry to Waiheke Island, where the amazing wineries are accompanied by fantastic restaurants, but don’t just stop at the wineries, head into town and find some smaller places to indulge. Check out our Luxury Waiheke Food and Wine Experience tour which offers a fabulous chance to unwind, wake up to birdsong, sample local oysters, wild honey and artisan cheese.
In Wellington you will find some superb spots like Little Penang with its buzzing atmosphere and authentic Malaysian cuisine, Burger Liquor for just an all-round great burger, fries and shakes or Loretta a very popular café among the Wellington scene. Both Auckland and Wellington are home to a large range of cheap eat restaurants, food night markets and takeout.
2) Maori Food – natural
Typically, when we think of Maori food, we think of the hangi, which is a traditional form of cooking by using the earth as an oven. The hangi includes meats, fish, kumara and wild vegetables which has a distinctive combination tastes of smoke and steam that has been baked underground in handmade baskets.
Maori are known for a vast range of traditional cuisine like the Rowena bread and raw fish. Rowena bread goes with many meals or on its own as a snack. The raw fish is a favourite for Maori who dried and marinated many types of seafood in traditional times.
Other dishes regarded as characteristically Māori are the boil up. This consists of pork, potatoes, kūmara, and dumplings and pork and sow thistle.
If you want to combine your Maori foodie experience with a fine dine touch, check out Hiakai in Wellington with its sophisticated boundary pushing menu.
New Zealand boasts bountiful fresh seafood that can be enjoyed all over the country. From green lipped mussels, farmed sustainably in Coromandel and Marlborough, you will find them cooked with many flavours in restaurant around the country. Make sure you try some scallops with juicy textures and rich tastes. Bluff oysters are also a must, which are fresh and delicious and often rates the best in the world! You can find these at markets, food festivals and many restaurants. Crayfish is other must try (also known as lobster), is something many fishermen and divers’ pride on catching themselves. Crayfish is not exactly the most affordable food, but it’s worth a try when the opportunity presents itself!
New Zealand has a wide range of seafood options, that it would be hard to list them all but if one thing is for sure, nothing beats eating fish and chips. With so many iconic fish and chip shops, grab yourself some take away and sit on the beach and enjoy a meal with a view.
One of the most famous spots for seafood in New Zealand is Kaikoura surrounded by seafood caravans and the famous Seafest (seafood festival)!
4) Meat lovers
New Zealand’s biggest export is meat and the quality is acclaimed all over the world! So, you can imagine that the meat is a must try for meat lovers, more specifically the lamb. Succulent and tender and for many fine dining and high-end restaurants, lamb will most definitely be on the menu, often roasted but also slow cooked and for a lot of Kiwi’s it’s also barbequed. Best enjoyed with rosemary and seasonal vegetables.
Some of the New Zealand properties we have partnered with are great at perfecting the lamb experience. Minaret station offers a terrific dining experiences with free range venison, Te Mana Lamb and Angus Beef, all of which are sourced from Minaret Station’s own 50,000 acre working farm. Check out our Off the grid hidden luxury getaway at Minaret station.
5) Ice Cream
The artisan ice cream scene has grown to rival some of Italy’s best gelato here in New Zealand and must be experienced. With the unofficial national flavour being hokey pokey (caramelized honeycomb mixed into vanilla) which most dairy’s (local stores) sell by the scoop. The designer “craft” ice-cream scene has grown so much, with interesting mix of exotic flavours and combinations, ranging from salted passionfruit coconut, burnt fig with honey to sherry or sea salt almond chocolate. In Auckland places like Giapo are great to try a varied range of quality New Zealand made ice cream, that is Instagram worthy.
Learn more about of food and wine tours here