Food & Drink

New Zealand is a leading producer of meat and dairy products, and cuisine is largely based on these. Venison and game birds are also popular. A wide range of seafood is also available, including snapper, grouper, oysters and crayfish.

Maori Cuisine

Like other Polynesian peoples, Maori cooked their food in earth ovens, known in New Zealand as hangi. Other cooking methods included roasting and, in geothermal areas, boiling or steaming using natural hot springs and pools. Occasionally food would be boiled in non-geothermal areas by putting hot stones into a bowl with water and the food; and some food was also cooked over the open fire. Some foods were preserved using smoke, air-drying, or layers of fat - particularly muttonbirds. Maori were one of the few peoples to have no form of alcoholic beverage.

Present day Maori cuisine is a mixture of Maori tradition, old fashioned English cookery and contemporary dishes. Most large Maori gatherings will feature a hangi, which is likely to contain foods brought to New Zealand by Maori and by Pakeha. In less formal occasions, distinctively Maori dishes include the boil-up - of pork, potatoes, kumara, and dumplings, which is also similar to traditional British cooking methods, and pork and puha - sow thistle, which combines an introduced meat with an indigenous vegetable.

Other Cuisines

New Zealanders come from many ethnic backgrounds, and most immigrants to New Zealand have tried to reproduce their native cuisines or national dishes in New Zealand. Ethnic restaurants have served as community meeting places and have also given other New Zealanders a chance to try different cuisines.


Perhaps even better known than New Zealand lamb, mussels and other foods are the country's wines. There are 10 major wine-producing areas in New Zealand, with Marlborough famed for its Sauvignon Blanc, Gisborne for its Chardonnay, and Central Otago and Martinborough building a reputation for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Hawkes Bay is known for its bold Cabernets and Auckland's Waiheke Island is home to one of the top 20 Cabernet blends in the world. Marlborough and Hawkes Bay are New Zealand's two premium wine-growing regions. You can find out more about New Zealand's wine regions in the Wine Resource Centre.