The food in New Zealand is not very well documented, is it?

When we made our move to New Zealand from the UK, I was expecting to get here and be faced with a plate full of lamb chops and maybe a kiwi fruit for dessert.

But then I learned the truth about New Zealand food. And the reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

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In this podcast episode (you can listen or watch; it’s your choice!) Ryan, an American who left the US five years ago and is now  living in Auckland New Zealand, with his family.


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Food in New Zealand


You don’t tend to read much truth about New Zealand food.

This is a shame as it leads people to believe that Kiwi food is either boring and non-existent. Either that or everyone who lives in New Zealand resides in mud huts and eats dinosaur eggs.

Neither of those things is true.

Well. My son’s bedroom sometimes resembles a mud hut, but that’s another story.

When you come to New Zealand looking for food, you will find an array of mouthwatering deliciousness. 

And maybe a tinned asparagus sandwich, but let’s discuss that later. 


Life in New Zealand


New Zealand living takes some getting used to.

You must become accustomed to (and not be offended by) the New Zealand slang.

 Educate yourself on the scary things in New Zealand (like earthquakes and sand-flies).

Accept the laid-back attitude of the New Zealand people, and finally…come to terms with the fact that the New Zealand Christmas is spent on the beach!


Food in New Zealand 


But food is a major part of your life, and if you’re planning on moving to New Zealand from the US or any other far-flung part of the world, you’ll want to know what you’ll be having for your dinner when you get off the plane.

Also, if you are a foodie like me, you’ll no doubt be wondering is the food in New Zealand better. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. 

You are in the hands of an expert—a foodie who lives in New Zealand.

Let’s dive in!



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Sheep standing in a field in New Zealand



10 New Zealand Foods You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of


The foods I want to share with you are typical New Zealand foods I doubt you will have heard of. I know I hadn’t. 

Remember, if you would like to know more about the food in New Zealand, listen to the podcast above where Brian and I will take you on a typical culinarily weekend down under!


1: Mince on Toast


Mince on Toast. Famous food in New Zealand


I am not kidding; when I first saw this on the menu in New Zealand, I thought it was a misprint.

Mincemeat (ground beef for the Americans in the audience). On toast?? What’s that all about?

But then I tried it.

And. It. Is. Divine.

The version I had was made with a tomato and herb base, served on a piece of toast and topped with an egg (because in case you didn’t know, the kiwis LOVE eggs. Or should I say iggs.) Finished off with a mouthwateringly delicious hollandaise sauce.

If you haven’t tried this New Zealand dish, then it is a must! I have never seen it anywhere else in the world so I’m guessing this is unique to NZ.


Cost for mince on toast in a New Zealand café?

Approx NZD 14



2: Hāngi



If you visit New Zealand and are ever offered the chance to partake in a Hāngi then jump at it.

It is one of those divine eating experiences that you will never, ever forget.

A Hāngi is a Māori cooking method. Friends are invited around, a pit is dug into the ground and a fire is made. From there, hot rocks are placed on top.

Everyone stands around and has a good chin wag, talks about the rugby and the wind and waits for an hour or two.

Once the rocks are white-hot, baskets of food containing meat (usually lamb but also chicken, beef or pork), potatoes, and other root vegetables (mostly kumara) are wrapped (traditionally in leaves but more commonplace today in tin foil), and are placed on top of the rocks.

The earth is then dug back over the baskets until the pit is filed in.

And then you wait.

Usually for around five to seven hours. The pit is dug back up, the baskets lifted, and dinner served.

The result? A tender, smokey, meltingly delicious plate of slow-cooked New Zealand loveliness.



3: Sausage Sizzle


Sausages on a BBQ. Popular New Zealand food

Okay, listen.

Life in New Zealand with kids means sausages.

If you are thinking of moving to New Zealand or even taking a vacation to the country, there is something you need to be aware of.

The Kiwis LOVE sausages. But not just that, they LOVE sausage sizzle.

The sausage sizzle is a Kiwi tradition. Go to any kid’s birthday party, fundraiser, festival, school camp, in fact, any kiwi gathering and it will be there.

The BBQ, the bag of sausages, the sliced white bread and the tomato sauce.

Now then you food snobs listen up.

Don’t make the mistake that I made when I first moved to New Zealand. I dared to call this New Zealand food a sausage sandwich.

Shame on me. This is no sausage sandwich. yes it is a sausage and yes it is wrapped in bread, but this here is a saussie.

That’s it. A saussie. Add this word to your list of New Zealand slang. You’ll hear it a lot.

The Saussie:

Never two pieces of bread, only one.

The saussie is placed in the corner of the bread and wrapped over on an angle. And if you don’t have tomato sauce with it then be prepared for a funny look.


Cost for a saussie from a sizzle in New Zealand?

Approx NZD 1


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4: Tinned Asparagus Sandwiches


Asparagus sandwich. Food in New Zealand


One up from the sausage sizzle this is one item on the New Zealand food list that makes an appearance at the more upmarket gatherings.

Nowhere in the world have I ever been offered a tinned asparagus sandwich with cream cheese.

Again, wrapped on an angle on a single piece of white bread. This one, though (because it is posh), has the crusts cut off. I say, old chap.

I’m not going to say that I don’t like this New Zealand food. Actually, I have been known to scoff at quite a few of these while waiting for my daughter to finish a flute recital, but the taste is… a bit mushy.

Nice, but mushy.

Like any county, living in New Zealand has its pros and cons. Dare I say that the tinned asparagus sandwich is one of New Zealand’s cons? No. I daren’t. Tinned asparagus sandwiches are really nice.



4: Feijoa


feijoa fruit. Food in New Zealand


I had never heard of the Feijoa until I came to live in New Zealand, but I soon came to love this fragrant food as much as the Kiwis. 

March to June is Feijoa season so if you’re wondering when the best time to visit New Zealand then come in autumn. The leaves are shedding, it isn’t crowded, and best of all? Their country had an abundance of feijoas!

The feijoa, which is an egg-shaped fruit, tastes like bubble gum.

That’s the only way I can describe the taste to you. Really, really sweet and very, very fragrant.

The feijoa make for the perfect healthy snack; they are eaten like a boiled egg mostly by the kids in New Zealand. They slice the top off and scoop out the fragrant fleshy insides with a spoon.

Feijoa jam and chutney are also very common in New Zealand, as is feijoa crumble. Yum.


Cost for Feijoa from the supermarket?

Approx NZD 7 KG



5: Kina


sea urchin, Kina a food of New Zealand


Another typical New Zealand food is Kina.

Kina is a species of sea urchin that is abundant on the coasts of New Zealand. It is best eaten raw just after you have cleaned and taken out its edible parts.

I remember when we very first came to New Zealand with the kids and were walking along the beach.

A fisherman was wading out of the ea with a basket of Kina, and he stopped us and asked the kids if they’d like to try one of them. He split the kina open, cleaned it, and handed it to my little children.

Good on them; they gave it a go. But they never forgot it, and I won’t tell you what they said when we got home.

I love Kina, but I think it might be an acquired taste. If you don’t want to go straight for the raw option (which (I personally think is the best), know that you can also eat this New Zealand delicacy deep-fried or in a pie. 


Cost to buy Kina meat from a New Zealand fish shop?

Approx NZD 240 for 8 x 200g pottles


6: Kūmara

Kumera. A popular food in New Zealand


Again, a food that I had never heard of until I came to New Zealand, but know that the kiwi’s love this vegetable.

There are four main types of kūmara – red, gold, orange and purple. Each has its own distinctive colour and have subtle flavour differences.

I am not sure what the difference is between a sweet potato and a kūmara other than the orange variety tastes slightly smokey.

I love kūmara chips and also roasted and added to a salad of red peppers, basil and feta. Delicious!


Cost for Kumera?

Approx NZD 7.99 KG



7: Paua



Paua shell from New Zealand


Ohhh. Now, this is one New Zealand food that I would walk to the end of the earth for.

Paua, according to Fisheries NZ are “large sea snails that are highly valued by Māori, recreational fishers and the commercial fishing industry. Pāua have always been a food source for Māori, and play a significant role in manaakitanga ki ngā manuhiri (hosting of visitors).”

Paua has a taste that is hard to describe. Meaty, salty and delicious. The kiwi nickname for this delicacy is black gold and if you check out the price below you will understand why!

Paua can be eaten in a variety of ways, from raw to curries to paua fritters. My favourite way is to slice the meat thinly and fry gently with garlic, butter and lemon. 

Remember, though, if you come to New Zealand and are offered to go fishing for Paua, the rules are very strict.

New Zealand fisheries explain that “successful spawning is related to the number and size of groups, so it’s important to leave some pāua to breed for the next generation…For most of New Zealand, recreational fishers have a bag limit of 10 of each pāua species”


Cost to buy Paua from a fish shop in New Zealand?

Approx NZD 85 KG


8: Steak and Cheese Pie


pies in New Zealand. A popular New Zealand food


Of course, you have heard of pies. But have you experienced the New Zealand pies?

If not, you are in for a treat! The savoury pie fillings in New Zealand range from curry to mushroom and white sauce, but the one pie that New Zealand is probably most famous for?

The fabulous steak and cheese!


Cost for a steak and cheese pie in New Zealand?

Approx NZD 4.50



9: Green Lip Mussels


Green lip mussels. A favourite food of New Zealand


The cost to live in New Zealand is often cited as being one of the highest in the world but grab yourself a bag of  New Zealand green lip mussels, some garlic, a chilli, maybe a bunch of coriander and a loaf of bread, and you’ll pay no more than NZD 7. 

You can’t get a cheaper, fresher and more delicious meal than that.

Oh, go on then.. and a bottle of wine. Just add and extra 12 bucks.


Cost for Green Lip Mussels in New Zealand?

Approx NZD 5 KG



10: Kiwi Burger


Burger in a takeaway container. New zealand favourite foods


I include this New Zealand food as, once again, I have never been anywhere in the world (and we have visited many unique travel destinations,) and have tasted a burger as good as a New Zealand burger.

The photo above is of the burger that I talk about in the podcast episode. Look at the size of it!

New Zealander burgers are packed with all different ingredients, the most popular being cheese, egg (of course), beetroot, onion, mayo and Tommy sauce.

I have to go now. My mouth is watering…


Cost for this burger in the Ugly Bagel café?

NZD 14



Other things/links we talked about on this week’s food in New Zealand podcast episode:


✔︎ Get instant access to my FREE Moving to and Living in New Zealand Video Guide HERE! A 5 Day Video Series! 


🤔 Why we went to a Japanese restaurant in New Zealand and ordered bacon and egg muffin

🤔 The weirdest food we have ever eaten in New Zealand 

🤔  Sunday market in Wellington

🤔 Emmylou in New Plymouth

🤔 Best Ugly Bagel Company in Wellington


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Living in New Zealand sign up form for a free guide


 Listen to the podcast: New Zealand food. What’s it REALLY like?




Watch the Podcast on Youtube!










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Husband and wife eating out in Wellington, New zealand



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Did you enjoy this week’s podcast on New Zealand Food?


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Liz and Brian


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