In general, food in New
Zealand is of a high quality. We are a net producer of many foods, and
a good exporter of fruit, vegetables, dairy produce and meat.
Prices are unexpectedly high in comparison to the UK, mostly because
the farmers insist on actualy selling their produce for more than it cost to produce
I know this is unheard of in the UK, where the
supermarkets exert such a huge pressure, but our farmers (up to
now) have managed to avoid being backed into a corner, and boy, do they
produce some good stuff.
The quality of vegies is superior to anything I've seen in Europe, and
the choice is mostly the same as in UK or most European countries.
Some little differences;
Peppers in the UK are known as capsicums here.
Kumara is a sweet potato
Silver Beet (Swiss Chard) is a strange long cabbage-like green
The Kiwis seem to like it I used to feed it to the
Chicken is good, tasty with a good texture, available in fresh, frozen,
pre-cooked and pre-flavoured.
Pork is mostly good (not quite as good as some Scottish pork I've
tasted in the past)
Beef varies, top quality "Scotch" or "Angus" fillet can be really good,
but not as good as best Aberdeen Angus steak from Scotland
Lamb is (not surprisingly) good, but it is "known" that all the really
good stuff gets exported (traditionaly to the UK, but since the advent
of the EU (b***ards) now to the USA and Japan)
Many supermarkets offer schnitzel variations on beef and pork.
This is a cheaper cut which seems to have been put through
some large rollers, or possibly pounded with a large hammer to make it
Many type of sausages are available, most quite reasonable and
recognisable. However beware the difference between beef
sausages and beef-flavoured
sausages. I believe that beef sausage
actually has some real meat in it, while
Pre-cooked sausages are available for use on the BBQ (avoids that
Cheerios are not a 'farewell call', nor a breakfast cereal produced by
Nestlé, but are small, fat, bright reddish-orange sausages,
normally pre-cooked, served heated in boiling water (like a
frankfurter), and served with tomato sauce. They do not
taste like frankfurters. Quite honestly they do not taste
anything else I've ever eaten, unless it was the ever so slightly
rancid Donner Kebab I once had in Dundee after a night on the beer.
A memory not particularly treasured.
Because of our warmer climate (in some areas) we do get access to local
fruits not normally seen in the UK
Peaches, Nectarines, and Apricots in season are superb.
Cherries are seen as a traditional Christmas fruit.
Kiwifruit are in abundance
Lemon trees grow in almost every Kiwi garden, and oranges, limes and
grapefruit are also grown locally.
Pineapples, Mangos, Coconuts are imported from nearby Pacific Islands.
Apples and Pears are grown in Hawkes Bay.
There is a more seasonal variation in NZ. In the UK we were
to mountains of all fruits available from all round the world, all year
Kiwi fruit shops and supermarkets offer a superb, but mostly seasonal range.
I've never eaten so much fruit in my life....it's great.
Butter & Cheese
In the past, New Zealand was known world-wide as a country packed with
sheep, but with the removal of the fairly lucrative UK market when the
EU developed some claws, Kiwi farmers had to try something else.
They discovered that there was a small but growing market for dairy
products in Asia and the Pacific rim.. We have always had a
industry, but it began to grow rapidly. Most of the milk
goes to a farmer owned co-operative called Fontera.
This has, in the past, made available excellent quality milk, butter
and cheese to the Kiwi family. The very recent explosive
in the Asian dairy product market, linked to a reduction in Australian
dairy exports (they are having an awful drought) has caused prices to
Available in supermarkets and specialist shops. The main
types in the bulk counters is Mild,
Tasty is closest to cheddar, Colby is smoother and milder than cheddar,
with a fresh taste. I've never found any real taste at all in
Mild...it tastes to me like solidified, rubbery butter.
There are hundreds of small and specialist cheese makers up and down
the country, making every type of cheese. Not being part of
perfidious EU, we can make NZ Brie, Camembert, Gorgonzola, Stilton,
Parmesan. Mozzarella,. Mainly consumed in NZ, I don't believe
that the EU food name laws have any relevance to these sales, and the
cheeses are good.
Oh boy, do you have a treat in store.
Kiwi ice cream tastes like ice cream used to taste.
Made with only cream, butter, sugar and fruit/natural flavouring.
It's relatively cheap, every dairy sells it (normally Tip-Top, the most
popular brand) at about $2.00 for a very large cone.
While most flavours will be recognized by most western cultures, there
are some unique to NZ.
Feijoa (a slightly astringent gooseberry-like fruit, with an aromatic
Boysenberry (A milder version of the blackberry)
You would think that a nation which has a brand of beer as an iconic
national symbol (Tui
know how to make the stuff.
Mostly it doesn't. (Aussie isn't much better)
Beer bought in a pub in a traditional glass (a "handle
") from a pump
is gassy and in many cases reminiscent of British beer of the 70s.
(remember Watney's Red Barrel).
There are now many micro-breweries
in NZ, offering beers which really
taste of beer.
However to put it in perspective, I read a quote from a long-time
immigrant to NZ.
'I've never tasted beer
that was so bad, nor have I ever drunk so much of it'
Traditionally, Kiwis are not big spirit
The Scottish immigrants brought a taste for whisky,
governments have made it quite expensive.
A bottle of Grouse
costs about $40.
The younger generation has been got at by the international
conglomerates, who are hooking youngsters all round the world on fizzy
and sweet alko-pops.
However there are many staunch traditionalists who insist on getting
totally wrecked on beer.
As the NZ economy changed in the 90s to a true market driven (almost
Thatcherite) model, the first of the conspicuously rich (mostly in
Auckland) began to appear.
These jokers started a trend for cocktails, which persists to this day,
mostly in upmarket hotels and specialist bars.
spirits can only be bought for home consumption at a liquor store.
Supermarkets are limited to beer, wines and sherries
It is only fairly recently that good wines have been home produced.
The original NZ wine was a sweet nondescript, never really
The development of the wine areas of the Wairarapa, Marlborough and
Otago, (plus others), specialising in Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc,
has led to NZ becoming a really first class wine producer.
Unfortunately, it's so bloody good, that all the really good stuff goes
for export, and the remainder is becoming too expensive for everyday
Good fruity Aussie reds are cheaper in the supermarkets than their Kiwi
Sauces and Tinned
Immigrants from the UK will spot familiar or almost familiar cans and
bottles on supermarket shelves.
The local brand "Watties" has a packaging identical (apart
from the name) to Heinz
Campbell's soups are widely available.
Be warned, they do not
taste the same as the ones you have grown used to in the UK.
Almost everything is slightly sweeter. Pickles and sauces
seem sweeter and less acidic or vinegary.
It is really strange.
You travel 13,000 miles to the other part of the world.
You uproot from friends, family and native culture.
You embrace your new country.
You enjoy the diversity of the new cuisine.
And you feel absolutely
because the tomato ketchup tastes different.
There are a few ex-pat shops around, but I've never succumbed to the
Why go back?
However I must admit to the occasional daydream about City
Bakeries Mutton Pies from Glasgow, or Fisher & Donaldson
from Fife and Dundee.
Before we arrived in NZ, I assumed, based as it was on Imperial British Culture, that NZ would be a tea imbibing nation.
Well it was, and many of the older generation still are tea drinkers, but coffee has taken over in a big way.
The quality of the coffee is much, much higher than that normally found in the UK.
Espresso machines abound, and baristas
are highly trained.
The local coffee culture and providers are so good, that the international chains (Starbucks etc.) find it very hard to compete.
In Wellington, a city with a population of about 200,000, there are two Starbucks.
I am not saying that Starbucks coffee is no good, it's not, it gives a good standard of coffee worldwide, but...
It's not as good as the majority of local coffee outlets, and there are hundreds of them.
Coffee used to come in two types. Black or White.
We now have a different categorisation, which I'll try and explain
below. (Sizes vary, and you can further vary these
with your own personal preferences,
i..e.. Skim Milk, Soy Milk, Extra shot etc.)
||A single espresso consisting of 30 mls.
||A single/double espresso topped up with hot water to 140 mls.
||A short black topped with creamy steamed milk. Size 190 mls.
||About 1/3 short black with frothed milk. Size 190 mls.
||A large cup with a double short black and plenty of steamed flat milk. Size 300 - 330 mls
Much of the coffee is roasted locally, and there is a high level of
competition between the coffee suppliers, resulting in a reasonably
priced (about $3.50) high quality product.