You’ve planned your trip, packed your bags and booked your accommodation. But what are you going to eat and drink when you arrive for your gap year in New Zealand? To be honest, most of the food and drink in New Zealand is similar to what you’ll be used to at home, and the variety of drinks you’ll find is similar to any other developed nation. We thought we’d let you know about some of the local specialities and delicacies though, so that you can get a real taste for the country…
Food in New Zealand
There’s one thing that New Zealand is better known for than anywhere else in the world: lamb. And what they can do with the different cuts of meat found from this bountiful creature – there are about 60 million of the woolly critters roaming around the country – is absolutely stunning. You absolutely have to try New Zealand lamb while you’re there, even if you’ve already tried some from the supermarket at home. The two options don’t even compare.
The fact that New Zealand has such a huge coastline means that they also produce some of the best seafood in the world. You’ll find fish such as snapper and hoki, however the biggest delicacy is undoubtedly whitebait – it is a real taste sensation when you eat one of these freshly caught fish in a good New Zealand restaurant. Thanks to Japanese immigrants, sushi is also found all over the country – made using high-quality fish from New Zealand, of course! Don’t forget to try the fish and chips too, as it’s the most popular food in the country for a good reason!
Maori food is still going strong in New Zealand as well, even after the influx of fast-food chains and international cuisines. Most Maori food has now been slightly modernised, however it is still delicious and every backpacker should try to get a taste at some point. Look out for the boil-up (pork, kumara, potatoes and dumplings), as well as pork and puha. Both dishes are delicious! If you can get some Maori food cooked in the traditional earth ovens (known as hangi), you should jump at the chance.
There will be some times, of course, when you decide that you simply want some unhealthy fast food. In New Zealand, you’ll be able to find all of the major fast-food chains throughout the country. They are great when you’re in a hurry, but try not to eat at them every single day!
Drink in New Zealand
New Zealanders love a good drink, and we don’t blame them! After all, they live in a country with some of the most highly-regarded vineyards in the world, and the clamour for New Zealand wine is reaching massive proportions. Even if you aren’t a wine drinker, you must take some time to try some of the famous New Zealand vino, especially if you are in the wine producing regions of Marlborough or Hawke’s Bay. There are many places offering tours of vineyards too, which can be incredibly interesting and give you a good break from all those adrenaline sports!
There’s plenty of beer around in New Zealand too, and it is still the most popular alcoholic drink in the country. Most of the beer produced in the country is lager and, although the brands aren’t as well-known as some Aussie brews, you’ll soon develop a taste for them. Of course, you can also find loads of world famous foreign brands too, such as Kingfisher, Carlsberg and Heineken.
Drink driving has been a large problem in New Zealand in the past, and the police are now incredibly vigilant in clamping down on this crime. If you choose to drink and drive, you are putting others at risk, plus you could face severe penalties if caught. It should also be remembered that alcohol is completely banned in some areas – even carrying unopened containers – so be mindful of this rule.
It’s the eternal problem when eating in a restaurant abroad: should you tip, or should you keep the money in your pocket? In New Zealand, there is no real expectation to leave a tip for any type of service, however it is not unusual for staff to be tipped when they provide excellent service. Sometimes a service charge will be added to your bill, however this only usually happens on holiday days, in order to cover the extra wages of the staff.