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A guide to Kiwi cuisine: New Zealand’s food scene

New Zealand is renowned for its awe-inspiring scenery, cultural tapestry and eclectic culinary scene. New Zealand’s population is remarkably multicultural, and according to the New Zealand Government’s Office of Ethnic Communities, a quarter of New Zealand’s current population was born overseas, meaning that New Zealand’s food scene is a melting pot of flavours, cuisines and tastes. NZ’s diverse cultural tapestry profoundly influences how New Zealanders eat in their day-to-day life, making for an exciting culinary adventure for those who travel to New Zealand- often surprising travellers with its variety.

Let’s discuss New Zealand’s culinary scene through a tourist lens, exploring food’s popularity region by region and unveiling not-to-be-missed food trends in NZ. New Zealand hosts a myriad of distinct climates and terrains, making for a particularly unique culinary experience region by region. Each region in NZ has its own culinary traditions and customs, driven by local produce and waterways.

Northland & Auckland- North Island, NZ

Northland generally has a warmer climate and is home to subtropical fruits and an abundance of seafood, as Northland is extremely coastal. Local cuisine consists of produce-led food, often guided by fresh seafood, paired with local fresh ingredients. Auckland is a world-famous city, home to a thriving culinary scene drenched in culture. Some iconic and up-and-coming restaurants in Auckland:

Gochu

A winning restaurant in ‘Iconic Eats of 2024’, promises to deliver flavour-packed Korean cuisine, promising an authentic experience. Gochu is inspired by local ingredients but remains true to Korean cuisine.

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Bossi

Voted in the top 100 eats in Auckland food scene, Bossi promises authentic Italian fine dining and strives to “transport diners to the heart of Italia”.

Waikato & Bay of Plenty, North Island, NZ

Waikato is known in New Zealand for its dairy farming and horticulture. This region produces some of New Zealand’s best dairy products and, for that reason, is known for cuisine-inspired dairy and meat – offering a ‘paddock to plate dining experience, promising fresh regional produce and hearty meals. Bay of Plenty is recognised for its abundance of orchards, boasting the iconic Kiwifruit, and producing the best citrus and avocado in NZ. For that reason, when travelling in this region, travellers must visit the local farmers market to taste the locally grown produce.

Zealong Tea Room

Zealong has been awarded numerous gold standard awards at the Global Tea Championship, making its tea room in Waikato the place for tea lovers!

Ikarus Roastery

In the Bay of Plenty, Ikarus Roastery produces authentic, NZ organic coffee and is celebrated locally for producing top-quality coffee in NZ, and we Kiwis know our coffee!

Wellington, North Island, NZ

Wellington, Zew Zealabds capital city, is famous for its coffee, craft beer, and up-and-coming food scene. Wellington is home to some of NZ’s best and most celebrated restaurants and breweries, such as:

Logan Brown

Logan Brown is Wellington’s most treasured fine dining restaurant, dedicated to evolving with trends within the industry, however, unwavering commitment to local products and suppliers. 

Parrotdog Brewery

This brewery is known for its will to share with its guests their love for the ‘simpler times’, reminiscent of historic taverns and local pubs, this brewery promises a cozy, and traditional kiwi pub experience with an array of meticulously crafter brews, celebrated amongst the local community and beyond.

Marlborough, South Island, NZ

Malborough is a region celebrated for its wine, particularly its Sauvignon Blanc; however, let’s discuss a lesser-known treasure produced in this region—gin! Although this region is scattered with vineyards and wineries, in 2023, Malborough’s own Roots Malborough Dry Gin was awarded the world’s best dry gin at the 2023 World Gin Awards in London.

The Gin Shack & Tasting Bar

The Gin Shack, home to the Roots award-winning dry gin, offers guests an exceptional gin-tasting experience, partnered with Franks Oyster Bar and Eatery, providing the perfect food pairings complementing the world-renowned gin.

Canterbury, South Island, NZ

Canterbury is known to be the home of vast and open plains and farmland, celebrated for its lamb and beef. The region has a cooler climate, making it the perfect place to grow fresh vegetables, and it is celebrated for providing truly authentic farm-to-table dining experiences. Must see:

Kings Truffle Farm

This truffle farm offers guests an exclusive look into the world of a truffle farmer, hosting truffle events that are truly magical. Experience New Zealand’s best truffle in season and join in on harvesting, accompanied by specially trained truffle hunting dogs. Enjoy a truffle tasting paired with local farm-to-table ingredients and partnered with award-winning complimentary wines. The perfect experience for a foodie!

Otago & Southland, South Island, NZ

Otago and Southland, home to the iconic Queenstown and Wanaka, offer a diverse and rich culinary scene for all who visit. Southland is renowned for its Bluff Oysters and central Otago for its vineyards and wine. Not to mention, Edmond de Rothschild has recognised central Otago to be a superior soil for producing wine, mentioning it is on par with the burgundy region in France, and has purchased an estate in Bannockburn, central Otago to produce Pinot Noir.

Valli

Grant Taylor, New Zealand’s most awarded winemaker in history, owner and founder of Valli in central Otago, after years of work in Napa Valley, france, and Australia. Valli promises a world-class wine-tasting experience that is not to be missed.

Wynyard Estate Saffron Tour

Saffron is known as one of the most expensive spices in the world; how often do you get to see its origins? In Teviot Valley, central Otago, Wynyard Estate grows, produces and sells their saffron and hosts tours free to anyone who is curious. This tour promises a look into the world of saffron, and a chance to taste some saffron infused snacks prepared in house!

And the journey comes to a close…

New Zealand’s love for food is evident no matter where you are in the country. It is obvious that New Zealand’s cuisine is inspired by its multicultural community. However, each region has its own food culture, often led by climate, terrain, and produce. There is so much to taste here in New Zealand; it is a foodie’s wonderland!

Veronika Vermeulen

Veronika Vermeulen is Director of Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. Aroha New Zealand Tours Ltd. has been offering 100% tailored journeys and private guided luxury experiences in New Zealand since 2000.

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11 Comments

  1. Ready this is some education. I’d never thought much about Kiwi food and I hadn’t realised how much diversity it’s got.

  2. Yes i live the varity now, especiallythe Asian influences fusion restaurants. Bu, people who traveled here 20 years ago would very much disagree, as just a generation ago food was still very basic in our country.

  3. I love the variety now, especially the Asian influences in fusion restaurants. But, people who travelled here 20 years ago would very much disagree, as just a generation ago food was still very basic in our country.

  4. I had no idea that as many as 25% of the New Zealand population were born overseas. That partly explains why there was so much ethnic diversity to the food when I last drooped by.

    1. Interesting facts. 213 ethnic groups were identified in the census, whereas 196 countries were recognised by Statistics New Zealand. The five largest ethnic groups in New Zealand are New Zealand European, Maori, Chinese, Samoan, and Indian, and ethnic diversity has been increasing. In the last few years, we have seen a big increase in southern Americans and Filipinos.

  5. If I make it to New Zealand I’ll have to book Gochu. I’ve never had a Korean meal but also I’ve never had an Asian meal that I haven’t liked. They seem to get the blend of heat and spice right for my tastebuds,

  6. Likewise, Sidart Restaurant, an influential fine-dining restaurant, is among NZ’s most awarded restaurants. We have many outstanding Japanese restaurants like Masu, but I love the small Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Malaysian cafes on our side streets.

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