Do not miss out on this list of popular New Zealand food. 

When it comes to traveling around the world, one of the top things that heightens any experience is indulging in the culture of your host country. Part of that experience will undoubtedly revolve around food. Today, we are going to dive deep into the culture of New Zealand with some of the most popular New Zealand food that you have to try.

Food is a universal language that every traveler knows holds a special part of any travel experience. When it comes to New Zealand food, there is no exception. New Zealand is such an amazing country for so many reasons. When it comes to New Zealand food, the mesmerization continues. Today we are going to cover some of the staple features of New Zealand food. Not only that, but we have listed some of our top favorite types of New Zeland food to try. When it comes to this beautiful country, be sure to plan out your trip to New Zealand just right. When it comes to the food scene, make sure that you do not overlook it. Here are some of the top dishes that locals and travelers alike urge every visitor to try.

1. Crayfish

New Zealand food - Crayfish

Credit: ​Trip Advisor

Unsurprisingly, seeing as New Zealand is in close proximity to the water, perhaps one of the most popular types of New Zealand food is crayfish. In this beautiful country, crayfish is also known to be called lobster. What makes this dish perhaps the best New Zealand food is the fact that a lot of pride goes into this dish. Many fishermen can have a tricky time catching the crayfish. Because of this, the effort that goes into providing this dish is one that is recognized and appreciated.

Along with this, the price of a crayfish meal tends to be a little on the high end. Unsurprisingly, when demand is high, yet supply is low, prices will go up. However, do not let the price dissuade you. Crayfish is easily one of the most savory yet delectable dishes that make up the foundation of New Zealand food. It is absolutely worth the splurge if you find yourself in this beautiful country. One of the best places to try out this staple dish is Stratosfare Rotorua. This restaurant bar serves up some of the tastiest grilled crayfish.  

2. Hangi

New Zealand food - Hangi

Credit: Sarah Stewart

When you are in New Zealand, one of the most popular New Zealand food to try is a hangi.  A hangi is not so much a specific meal, but rather the way a meal is cooked. As soul food is to southern cooking, a hangi is to New Zealand food. While this type of food is a traditional method of Maori cooking, it has been known to be saved for more special events and moments in life. The main reason for this is the fact that cooking a hangi takes quite a bit of time. Let's go over the basics of what makes a hangi meal such a special dish.

For starters, you will need to step out of the kitchen if you are making a hangi.  A hangi is a method in which food is cooked in the earth using rocks and wood. By cooking the meal underground, you get a natural tenderness to your food. It is this delicate taste and flavor that makes a hangi so unique. When it comes to the cooking itself, steam is the main component that does the cooking. If this type of cooking sounds familiar, then we are not too surprised.  The method of hangi cooking can be found all across the Pacific Islands and Pacific coastal countries. Although it may go by different names, the concept behind this type of cooking is the same for the most part.

When it comes to the actual meal, there is a range of foods you can prepare in a hangi.  Typically, you will find this popular New Zealand food served up with chicken, beef, or pork. Along with that, a hangi incorporates other elements such as potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and even pumpkins. This beautiful mix of flavors is what makes this a popular New Zealand food that you have to try on your travels.

3. Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

New Zealand food - Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

When it comes to New Zealand food, dessert has a special place on the table. One of the best treats that is also arguably the best New Zealand food is the nationwide famous Hokey Pokey ice cream. The Hokey Pokey ice cream is specific to the New Zealand region because of the ingredients that go into making this fabulous treat. 

In its simplest form, Hokey Pokey ice cream is essentially an ice cream that has a base of vanilla. This plain vanilla base is then disrupted with large solid lumps of honeycomb toffee. When it comes to the name of Hokey Pokey ice cream, the phrase Hokey Pokey stems from the New Zealand term that is used to define honeycomb toffee. When these two flavors come together, it is simply deliciousness that melts in your mouth.

While this popular flavor is perhaps the most iconic New Zealand food around, it was not always that way. This flavor truly made its debut in 1980 when ice cream makers introduced the solid toffee topping. However, over the years ice cream makers changed the recipe from solid toffee to honeycomb toffee. This change has been well received by many in New Zeland. If you plan on traveling through New Zealand, then you can not go back home until you get a taste of the delicious Hokey Pokey ice cream. If you are brave enough to try out this recipe yourself at home, click here

4. Jaffas 

If you have an insatiable sweet tooth, then this next New Zealand food is something that you absolutely have to try. Jaffas are one of the tastiest New Zealand delicacies that the Maori people love. Essentially, jaffas are small sugar coated chocolate balls. Jaffas stand out in the fact that they have an outer shell that features an orange flavor. This stark orange flavor in contrast to the rich chocolate makes for one of the sweetest treats New Zealand has to offer.

For an added dose of fun, you might be interested in learning about the Jaffa Race that is held in New Zealand. The Jaffa Race is essentially exactly what the name implies. Each year, in the town of Dunedin, bakers can take part in the Jaffa Race. This race is a race in which the Jaffa balls are rolled down a hill in one of the local neighborhoods. They are not roll down just any old hill either. In fact, these sugar coated chocolate balls are rolled down Baldwin Street, the steepest residential hill in the world. The distinguished honor of winning the Jaffa Race is certainly one of the most intriguing aspects of New Zealand's culture.

If you want to try out these confectionery delicacies but would rather they not be rolled on the floor first, then no worries. If you stop into any local bakery or any convenience store, you are sure to find plenty of jaffas to choose from. We suggest before you head out the door during your stay in New Zealand, you bring a couple of jaffas along with you in a plastic bag just for safe keeping. After all, long flights back home could certainly use a dose of sweetness. To get a taste of these sweet jaffas, click here. 

5. Kina

New Zealand food - Kina

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If you are an avid snorkeler or diver, then chances you have seen this next tasty New Zealand food. Those spiky ball-like sea urchins that you see on the bottom of the ocean floor also happen to be one of the tastiest delicacies that New Zealand has to offer. While the outside of this sea urchin is a spiky and hard outer shell, the inside is quite the opposite. Inside a kina, you will find a thin fleshy interior that is not only edible but super delectable too.

While this might be a strange type of seafood to indulge in, it is quite a popular New Zealand food. The most common way to eat Kina is by cracking the sea urchin open and taking out the insides by hand. However, many locals enjoy cracking the Kina open in half and using it as a plate to scoop out the insides with a spoon. While for many in the western world, this dish might seem a little odd. The locals in New Zealand see it otherwise. Kina is a very popular dish that also has a main component in Maori culture and diets. 

From street vendors to fine dining establishments, you can find Kina served up everywhere. Because of this, there is no excuse not to try this rather interesting New Zealand food. Especially if you did not previously recognize that this is in fact a tasty meal.

6. Roast Lamb

New Zealand food - Roast Lamb

While in New Zealand, one of the best types of New Zealand food to try is one that this country considers a treat. Roast lamb is one of New Zealand's biggest export meats. Perhaps the demand is so high because New Zealand knows what it means to cook the perfect roast lamb.

If you are going out on a romantic evening, you can expect to find that a roast lamb dish will be on every menu in many fine dining establishments. And do not be surprised if you are going out for a drink and find roast lamb appetizers on your menu as well. That is how popular this staple dish is.

You can not really say you have had roast lamb until you have had it in New Zealand. The way the seasonings come together as well as the presentation makes it one of New Zealand's best dishes. While you will find roast lamb served a variety of different ways, our recommendation is simplicity. It is best to aim for a dish that emphasizes the roast lamb without putting too much effort into any other side dishes. 

You can typically expect roast lamb to be served with a nice garnish. Often times, you will find that your roast lamb is served with carrots or other small vegetables on the side as well. Other than small garnishes, it is best to let the roast lamb do most of the speaking. We are sure you will not be disappointed when you get a taste of this delicious New Zealand food.

7. Lolly Cake

New Zealand food - Lolly Cake

Credit: ​Brent Simpson

Every childhood is laced with delicious desserts that are not only tasty but are an iconic staple of childhood. When it comes to New Zealand children, that iconic treat is a lolly cake. Lolly cakes take you back to a time where responsibilities were as demanding as cleaning your room and adventures were as plentiful as they could be. When you are traveling to New Zealand, arguably the most popular New Zealand food to try is a lolly cake. After all, it is this dish that brings so many people together. Not only that, but it gets so many people thinking back to a time when things were simpler.

While lolly cake recipes differ from family to family, the concept is still the same. Lolly cakes can be defined by the colorful appearance that draws nibblers straight to them. The traditional recipe calls for crushed biscuits to be mixed with melted butter and sweetened condensed milk. Once you have these ingredients combined, you will typically throw in candies, marshmallows, and other smaller chopped treats. These candies will provide the beautiful coloring that will make your lolly cake stand out. Once you have your ingredients together, you can then begin molding it. Mold your Lolly cake into the perfect loaf, slice it up, and serve it.

There are a couple of ways to enjoy this delectable treat. The most popular way is to pair it with a nice cup of tea or coffee. For many other families, gifting lolly cakes is one of the best treats you can give. Because of the beautiful coloring of lolly cakes, they make some of the best gifts. Simply wrap it in a beautiful packaging that displays the beauty of your lolly cake. Whoever you give the gift to is sure to be pleased and happy with this sweet little treat.

8. Afghans

New Zealand food - Afghans

Credit: Wikimedia

No, we are not talking about the people of Afghanistan. When it comes to a popular New Zealand treat, Afghans should come to mind. Ask any local and they are sure to tell you that an afghan is simply one of the most delicious New Zealand desserts.

Afghans are a tasty little cookie that is full of simple goodness. One of the factors that make this cookie so delicious is the fact that when you bite into it, you are met with a crunchy texture that is unlike anything you have ever tried before.

The base of the New Zealand afghan cookie is made of flour, butter, sugar, and cocoa powder. The secret ingredient in the base of the cookie is to add some crunchy Corn Flakes. To top these cookies off, you can expect to find some chocolate icing that will simply melt in your mouth. Finally, these delicacies are garnished with some chopped walnuts for finishing look that also offers some more goodness. Once you have your cookie all put together, it is ready to be cooked. Place your afghan cookies to bake in the oven. Then cook them until they are a nice golden brown and ready to eat.

One of the best ways to enjoy this delicious treat is to serve it with tea. When paired with a hot cup of tea, these cookies take on a whole new meaning of goodness. If you are not a tea lover, then no worries. Coffee is another great dipping agent to substitute in place of tea. However you choose to indulge in these bad boys, you will not be disappointed. Ask any local and they will tell you that these cookies are one of the most popular New Zealand food when it comes to tasty treats.

9. Marmite

New Zealand food - Marmite

Credit: Amazon

When it comes to spreads, the world has no shortage of some of the most interesting vegetable and fruit spreads. When it comes to a popular New Zealand food, the go to spread is Marmite. Marmite is a lot like Australia's Vegemite in the sense that they both have a yeast extract. Along with that, they are both mixed in with different spices and herbs. If you have had Vegemite before, then you will quickly see that Marmite differs just a bit, especially with its texture. Marmite has a much syrupy texture that is not as viscose as Australia's Vegemite.

Marmite first hit the shelves in 1919 and has been accepted into the heart of New Zealand natives ever since. The way you eat Marmite is quite simple. The most popular way to eat this spread is with bread or crackers. Unlike other spreads, you do not need a big dollop when trying Marmite out. A conservative thin spread will do the trick. Part of the reason you want a really thin spread of Marmite is the fact that it is so concentrated. If you are like a true New Zealand native, then your next step to completing your bite of Marmite is to spread a super thin layer of butter on top as well.

You simply can not come to New Zealand without trying this popular New Zealand food. Although it might seem a little bit of a strange spread to many travelers, New Zealand natives will disagree with you. In fact, chaos ensued when there was Panic of a Marmite shortage in 2012. After an earthquake hit the only factory found in the country that produces Marmite, Marmite lovers panicked. The fear that there would be difficulty getting jars of Marmite was enough to make Marmite lovers go crazy. Fortunately, the shortage of Marmite is no longer a threat. This means that you have plenty of opportunities to try out this delicious treat. To order your own jar or Marmite, click here.

10. Green Lipped Mussels

New Zealand food - Green Lipped Mussels

Credit: ​Jeremy Keith

It is no surprise that New Zealand is known for their bountiful range of seafood. One of the most popular types of seafood to serve up is this next classical New Zealand food, muscles. But of course, these are not just any ordinary muscles. These muscles can be defined by their staple green lips. When cooked just right, these green lipped mussels make for some of the best seafood that New Zealand has to offer.

You can find green lipped mussels in nearly any seafood restaurant you go to. If you are in a coastal town, then many restaurants here are sure to serve it up as well. There are a couple of ways that these green lipped mussels are served. However, one of the most popular ways is to have them marinated in a nice garlic sauce. This sauce helps enhance the flavor of the muscles. Oftentimes, you will also find these green lipped mussels served with a generous addition of clam chowder.

Finally, what makes this meal so delectably delicious is the fact that it is not only tasty but super healthy too. These green lipped mussels are super low on calories and fat. You do not have to feel guilty when indulging in this tasty dish. Along with it's lack of bad stuff, the New Zealand green lipped mussels are super packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. Some of which include B12 and calcium. And finally, although is not yet proven, New Zealand native swear by the green lipped mussels as helping to rid people of ailments such as asthma and arthritis.

11. Sausage Sizzle

New Zealand food - Sausage Sizzle

Like many New Zealand foods, a sausage sizzle is exactly what you think it is. When it comes to a staple New Zealand food, a sausage sizzle should come to mind rather quickly. This is in part to a couple of factors. For starters, a sausage sizzle is one of those types of meals that you can have at any time of the day. For many New Zealand natives, a sausage sizzle is regularly seen as a snack. In all of its essence, a sausage sizzle is essentially a cooked sausage that is served with white bread. 

Along with the white bread, it is fairly common to get sausage sizzle served with a side of caramelized onions as well. The flavors that are associated with a sausage sizzle remind New Zealand locals of everything about their childhood. Growing up in New Zealand, coming across a sausage sizzle is the equivalent of Americans coming across hot dogs.

Speaking of its popularity, the sausage sizzle has a unique factor that makes it stand out from many other New Zealand foods. This factor is the fact that a sausage sizzle is the gift that keeps on giving. When it comes to donations and organizing for special events, you can often find sausage sizzles as a staple concession stand item. Many schools and sports clubs will often hold fundraisers where this staple New Zealand food is the popular headliner.

You do not have to go far to get your hands on this delectable treat. Unsurprisingly, this popular New Zealand food is served all throughout the country. Whether you are nibbling on it or devouring it, we are sure you will love it. In all aspects, it is easily one the most classic and delicious New Zealand Food that you have to try.

12. Fish and Chips

New Zealand food - Fish and Chips

This next dish is one of the most favorite dishes that is the perfect one for the traveler who does not like to try anything too exotic. In fact, this dish is the perfect dish if you are looking to get a nice bite of home. You simply can not go anywhere in the world without getting the chance to sample some fish and chips. The same goes for New Zealand. Because of their proximity to the sea, New Zealand is known for its fish and chips. In fact, their fish and chips are some of the best in the world. With plenty of fishermen and miles and miles of Coastline, why wouldn't it be?

For the most part, you can expect your fish to be lightly breaded and battered. Depending on where you go, your fish and chips variation may differ from place to place. The other aspect of this tasty dish is the fries. The fries are simply delicious and you can not go wrong wherever you go to get fries. To sample this popular New Zealand fish and chips dish, you just need to be near any coastal town. Many if not all coastal restaurants serve up this staple dish that is a sure crowd pleaser.

Final Thoughts

Part of the magic when it comes to traveling the world is sampling some of the tastiest food different countries have to offer. When it comes to New Zealand food, we love that there are some popular dishes that you have probably never tried before. Not only that, but we would not be surprised if you had never even heard of them all. Before you leave New Zealand, make sure to take plenty of time to enjoy the culinary dishes that are served here. You do not have to take our word for it. In fact, you do not even have to take the word of the locals. Just one sample of New Zealand food and you will be hooked as well. Here's to good travel and good food!

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Nadia El-Yaouti is a mother, English language arts middle school teacher, writer, and photographer. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and two little girls. Although she considers herself a workaholic, Nadia’s greatest pride is being a mom. When she’s not juggling work, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.

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