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Travel Guide > Australia & Oceania > New Zealand

New Zealand Restaurants & Eating

  
 
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New Zealand has a wide range of eating places, from fast food outlets to stylish restaurants. Many petrol stations have a convenience store with sandwiches or food such as pies that can be microwaved on-site.

International fast food chains include KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut and Subway. On the North Island, try BurgerFuel, a New Zealand chain which makes freshly cooked burgers served with kumara chips and dipping sauce. There are also many independent, owner-operated takeaways outlets selling one or more of burgers, pizzas, fried chicken, Chinese or other Asian fast food or fish and chips. At least a burger bar and/or fish and chip shop can be found in almost any small town or block of suburban shops.

The humble fish and chip shop is the archetypical New Zealand fast food outlet. The menu consists of battered fish portions deep fried in oil together with chunky cut potato chips as well as a range of other meats, seafood, pineapple rings and even chocolate bars, all wrapped in newsprint paper-today it is unprinted but traditionally it was yesterday's newspaper, until someone decided it was unhealthy. A good meal can often be had for under $5, a bad one for the same price.

Cuisine

New Zealand's cultural majority, mainly British, do not have a definitive and recognisably distinct cuisine that differs markedly from the traditional British cuisine. However there are a number of small differences

Roast kumara

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) roasted in the same manner as potatoes and often served instead of or alongside. May also be deep fried like potato chips and known as kumara chips - nice served with sour cream but rarely done well as kumara cooks at a different temperature than potatoes, so it needs a skilled chef for the dish to be done perfectly.

Pavlova

The pavlova, or pav, a cake of whipped egg whites baked to have a crusty meringue-like outside but soft in the middle, topped with whipped cream and decorated with sliced fruit. The dessert is also common in Australia, and there is debate between the two countries as to where it was first invented.

ANZAC biscuits

Plain hard biscuits made primarily from oatmeal bound with golden syrup. Originally made for and by ANZAC troops during the First World War. Also found in Australia. 

Pies

New Zealanders eat large numbers of non-flakey-pastry meat pies containing things like beef, lamb, pork, potato, kumara, vegetables, and cheese. Some companies now market ranges of "gourmet" pies and there is an annual competition for the best pie in a variety of catagories. 

Kiwifruit

A plum-sized green fleshed fruit, with fine black seeds in the flesh, originating from China, selectively bred in New Zealand, and first known to the home gardener as the Chinese Gooseberry. Now commercially farmed, with production centred on Te Puke but in many orcharding areas. Slices often served on pavlova. Known by its full name of kiwifruit and never shortened to kiwi in New Zealand, as kiwis are endangered birds or New Zealanders.

Whitebait

The translucent sprat or fingerlings of native freshwater fish species that migrate from spawning in the sea each year. After being caught in coastal river mouth set or hand nets during November/December, this highly sought after delicacy is rushed to all ends of the country. Served in a fried pattie made from an egg based batter. May be seasonally available from a local fish and chip shop. Is served without gutting or deheading.

Maori cuisine

The Maori also have a distinctive cuisine.

Hangi

The hangi or earth oven is the traditional way that Maori cook food for large gatherings. Meat, vegetables and sometimes puddings are slowly steam-cooked for several hours in a covered pit that has previously been lined with stones and had a hot wood fire burn down in it.

Kaimona

Kaimoana (literally: sea food) - particularly shellfish gathered from inter-tidal rocks and beaches as well as crayfish (rock lobster) and inshore fish caught on a line or with nets. Species such as paua (blackfoot abalone) and toheroa have been overfished and gathering restrictions are strictly enforced, while green mussels are commercially grown and sold live, or processed, in supermarkets.  

WARNING While it is almost extremely common to see people collecting shellfish, crustaceans and other kaimoana, there are a number of rules one must be aware of. Often these are posted on signs at the approaches to the collecting area. If in doubt, check with a local. Rules may be seasonal or all-year catch limits set by the Ministry of Fisheries, or they may be that certain areas are reserved solely for tangata whenua, or a combination. Also at times areas may have a prohibition against them for health reasons.





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