While quality food and beverage production has long been the lynchpin of New Zealand’s prosperity and a leading export earner, it’s the fusion of unique, quality produce and ethnic influences that have allowed the Kiwi food identity to evolve.
New Zealand's worldwide reputation for award-winning produce and specialist chefs draws tourists to the source and food tourism within New Zealand is developing at a rapid rate.
National and regional events highlight the production of a wide-ranging supply of gourmet foods and boutique wines.
Seasonal festivals, regular farmers’ markets and country fairs, which showcase fresh and flavourful produce, are favourite destinations for locals and tourists.
Indigenous foods feature increasingly on restaurant menus, and traditional Māori cuisine is experiencing a contemporary twist at the hands of innovative cooks like Monique Fiso of Hiakai.
A growing awareness of organics, food origin and healthy choices is driving a move towards locally-produced goods and today there is less focus on prolific production and more on quality, refinement and originality.
Innovative chefs make clever use of tasty ingredients freshly harvested from the garden, land and sea so that - accompanied by award winning wines - the New Zealand gastronomic experience is amongst the best in the world.
As well as an extensive list of fine restaurants, specialist food outlets and cafés, there’s also a growing trend towards private dining that provides tourists with an authentic home-cooking experience.
Many lodges, boutique hotels and bed and breakfast establishments offer guests the chance to design their own menu, gather ingredients and invite guests to a meal prepared by a specially selected chef.
While most New Zealanders still prefer a relaxed eating environment in-keeping with the laid back Kiwi lifestyle, the style of eating has changed almost as much as the food itself.
Summer usually means barbecues and alfresco dining where the emphasis is on fresh and simple fare. But, rather than the once traditional sausage and chop with tomato sauce and white bread, today’s 'barbie' menu is more likely to include shellfish and quality cuts of meat complemented with gourmet sauces, herbs and spices, exotic salads and specialist vegetables and fruits.
Fresh produce is available throughout New Zealand and there’s a revival of vegetable gardening with even apartment dwellers choosing to grow their own gourmet herbs and salad ingredients.
Awareness of place of origin and self sufficiency has turned thinking Kiwis into label-reading, ingredient-aware healthy eaters. Up-market cafés are replacing burger bars and fresh juice bars can be found in a lot of shopping malls.
Many New Zealanders now do their main weekly shop at their local farmers’ market to make the most of reasonably priced seasonal produce, home-made preserves and baking, and a wide choice of exotic ingredients and products inspired by cultural diversity.