There's no denying that New Zealand's scenery is spectacular - but for many people, the food is the real highlight of travelling in New Zealand. Whether you're a visitor planning a trip to New Zealand, or you're a Kiwi on holiday outside your own neighborhood, prepare yourself for a memorable culinary experience.
Consider sampling some, or all, of the following 6 amazing menu items you'll discover when you travel in New Zealand:
Lately, New Zealand's manuka honey has reached fad status internationally- with good reason. The honey is not only delicious; there's also scientific evidence pointing to the possibility that it might offer a broad variety of health benefits. Clinical research suggests that manuka honey is likely to be helpful for healing ailments ranging from influenza to staphylococcus aureus.
If you want to experience the unique flavour of manuka honey for yourself, you'll want to make a point of searching for this delicacy when you dine out in New Zealand. Kiwi restaurants offer a wonderful variety of desserts and other dishes featuring manuka honey as a highlight. Look for manuka honey meringue in particular. Also be sure to head to the nearest market and grab a few jars of plain manuka honey to bring home to your loved ones as souvenirs.
Many regions of the world have unique cooking traditions that aren't easily replicated elsewhere. New Zealand has quite a few of these unique traditions, and Maori Hāngi is one of them.
Hāngi dishes typically incorporate meats and vegetables including lamb, pork, seafood or sweet potatoes. Traditionally, indigenous Maori chefs used to prepare hāngi by wrapping these foods in leaves and then arranging them in flax baskets for cooking. Pits would be dug into the earth and lined with heated stones. The baskets would then be placed into the pits to be cooked. The cooking fires incorporated wood chips from the manuka tree, which would add a unique, smoky flavour to the food.
Nowadays, some Maori chefs skip using the leaf wrappers. Instead, they choose to wrap the food in steel mesh or baking foil. Otherwise, the contemporary Hāngi cooking process remains largely the same.
A Hāngi isn't just a meal; it's a unique social and cultural celebration, similar in some ways to a Hawaiian luau. If you're looking for things to do in Rotorua, New Zealand, a Maori Hāngi is a foodie experience you definitely won't want to miss out on.
Meat pies are standard fare in New Zealand, but they seem a bit exotic to some visitors from far-off lands like the United States. In contrast to American pies, Kiwi meat pies aren't dessert items; each meat pie can be a meal on its own. This comes as a surprise to some American visitors to New Zealand; Americans occasionally have to be tutored on what a meat pie is, and how to eat one. (Hint: you keep it in its paper bag packaging; you pick it up with your hands and dig in).
Want to try a meat pie? Wherever you choose to travel in New Zealand, you're likely to find a tempting variety of them in the local cafes, bakeries and restaurants. Choices might include steak and cheese pies, meat pies with gravy, bacon mac and cheese pies, pulled pork pies, steak and ale pies and others. If you happen to travel into an area of New Zealand with a high immigrant population, you may even encounter extraordinary variations such as Thai red curry pies.
Wine tasting is high on the list of things to do in central Otago, Marlborough and Hawke's Bay. If you're planning a visit to any of those regions in New Zealand, consider it a fantastic opportunity to sample some outstanding wine.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular menu items in New Zealand. It is an aromatic white wine featuring a broad variety of possible undertones. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines could have underpinnings that are subtly herbal, earthy, mineral or fruity in flavour, depending on multiple factors such as the soil in which they were grown.
By far, Sauvignon Blanc is the wine variety that New Zealand exports in the highest volumes - so it's the variety that most visitors to the country expect to sample when they visit. But, one thing people outside New Zealand don't often realise is that the country's absolute best Sauvignon Blancs are experimental, made in small batches and not typically exported. That means coming to New Zealand is the only possible way to experience them. If you enjoy fine wines, you'll definitely want to seize the opportunity to try the lesser-known experimental Sauvignon Blanc wines when you visit New Zealand.
A winery tour would be an enjoyable way to spend a few hours of your New Zealand holiday. If a winery tour isn't at the top of your travel bucket list, no worries; you'll also find Sauvignon Blanc on the menu in many New Zealand restaurants.
Pinot Noir is a rich red wine that pairs well with beef bourguignon, pasta dishes, salmon or roasted chicken. This wine originated in France, but New Zealand vintners offer some of the best Pinot Noir examples available anywhere in the world.
If you're interested in sampling luscious Pinot Noir during your travels to New Zealand, head to the cooler southerly part of the country; that's the location where the persnickety Pinot Noir grapes tend to grow best. Pinot Noir is offered on restaurant menus nationwide, but some of the best places to find Pinot Noir wineries include Marlborough, Central Otago, Nelson and Waipara.
Central Otago's Pinot Noirs, in particular, are worth making the trip for. They are full-bodied and fruity, featuring aromatic overtones that hint at cherries, raspberries or strawberries. If you're in the mood for a wine that's more herbaceous than fruity, opt instead for sampling the Pinot Noirs from the Alexandra area, which have a flavour that's faintly suggestive of dried thyme.
New Zealand is world famous for its unique and flavourful wines, but many Kiwi locals actually prefer beer. New Zealand's temperate climate is optimal for producing hops with a velvety, tropical richness. This results in irresistible locally produced beers that compel both Kiwis and visitors to flock to the country's pubs.
If you're a beer connoisseur, you'll want to make an effort to tour some of New Zealand's many restaurant-breweries, known as "brewpubs". Typically, a brewpub will brew its own beer and sell it directly to the public. This is the only possible way you'll be able to sample some of the country's best small-batch craft beers.
This list could continue on for pages more, because New Zealand offers many culinary delicacies other than just these. You could spend an entire lifetime in New Zealand and never run out of lovely drinks and dishes worth savouring. But if your time in New Zealand is limited, you'll definitely want to prioritise trying New Zealand's distinctly local versions of the 6 menu items listed above.
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