The best local foods to try while studying in New Zealand

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Auckland and Otago are both great places to discover New Zealand’s unique food culture. Try traditional Māori dishes to snacking on sweet treats popular with locals, when you’re studying at the University of Auckland on the North Island or the University of Otago on the South Island. Whether you’re cooking in your kitchen, eating out, or buying items in a supermarket, this is your guide to the New Zealand foods to try.

A New Zealand Meat Pie

The meat pie is a popular snack or quick meal served in bakeries and cafés across the country. New Zealander’s love of the meat pie goes back to British settlers in the 19th century. Back then, street vendors sold meat pies to workers and travelers looking for a quick, filling meal. Now, they’re a comfort food many New Zealanders grow up eating.

Typical fillings are minced beef or lamb with vegetables, cheese, or gravy. You’ll spot places also selling gourmet meat pies with unique flavor combinations. If you have access to a kitchen, you can buy pre-made pie shells in the supermarket and add your own fillings to make your own New Zealand meat pie.

Māori Hangi

Hangi is a traditional Maori feast cooked in an underground oven called an umu, using heated volcanic stones. The most common translation of ‘hangi’ is ‘to create something,’ and traditionally the dish would have been fish and kumara (sweet potato) wrapped in flax leaves. Today, pork, lamb, chicken, potato, and pumpkin are wrapped in mutton cloth and placed in baskets. This feast is a social event cooked for many people over many hours, and you can join in at cultural events in across New Zealand, which are well worth seeking out – or you could go to a Māori restaurant.


This green fruit with a slightly furry exterior is native to China, brought over to the country in 1904 by schoolteacher Isabel Fraser, who grew the plant and sold it as Chinese gooseberries. It became popular with growers in the 1950s and renamed kiwifruit in honor of the country’s native bird, the Kiwi.

Today, New Zealand is the third largest grower of kiwifruit in the world. Pop into any supermarket and look for a firm, unblemished kiwifruit and scoop out the contents with a spoon. Even better, look for a kiwifruit pavlova at an Auckland café or restaurant. This dessert has a meringue base with whipped cream and kiwifruit on the top. Delicious!

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Made with vanilla ice cream and small pieces of honeycomb toffee, Hokey Pokey ice cream is a popular New Zealand dessert perfect on a hot day after class. The ice cream became popular in the 1940s or 50s and today most supermarkets and ice cream parlors stock it. You can also make Hokey Pokey ice cream yourself if you have access to a kitchen. So, if you’re looking for the taste of New Zealand, you can’t go wrong with a cone or cup of Hokey Pokey ice cream