New Zealand grew its culinary roots from the native Māori culture and British colonial settlers. Over the past 30 years though, there has been a strong progression towards the use of fresh and organic ingredients. This wholesome food movement is making a splash in the culinary world. Their creative use of ingredients and emphasis on source and sustainability in their dishes is catching the world’s eye.
Traditional Meals in New Zealand
The traditional dinner in New Zealand used to consist of “meat and three veg.” Dining out was limited as much of the country was (and still is) undeveloped. When the opportunity to eat out arose, the usual fare was fish and chips or baked meats and pies. These are dishes that stemmed from British colonial heritage.
New Wholesome Food Culture of New Zealand
Today there is a strong movement within the kiwi culture for organic, sustainably produced foods. Many locals are actively growing culinary herbs and salad greens in their apartments, or gardens in their lawns. Locals are reading labels regularly and taking time to learn about where and how their food was produced.
Sustainable Practices is A Cultural Norm
As an extremely environmentally aware culture, the Kiwis are striving to reduce their impact on the environment. Making conscious lifestyle and dietary choices to preserve the island is a staple of the culture. Queenstown even has a local magazine called Source that supports environmental activism and provides ideas on how to live more sustainably.
Travel through the countryside and you can expect to see happy cows and sheep grazing in green pastures alongside the main roads. This is the epitome of grass fed! The top types of farming done in New Zealand are dairy, sheep, beef cattle, deer, goats and pigs. For produce, apples, kiwi fruit, grapes, avocados, barley and wheat are commonly grown for their domestic use and exportation. They take pride in their agriculture and it shines through in their culinary explorations!
Insider’s Take on Local Eateries
During my time here, we came across many plant based cafes, juice bars, and a variety of healthy options to satisfy our needs. The array of colors regularly showcased in the cuisine was very inspiring and delightfully tasteful. One of my personal favorite cafes was one at the fully self sustainable SolScape Hostel that overlooked Raglan’s surf breaks.
The chefs at the Conscious Kitchen pull their produce from a garden they have growing right on the property. Every day they incorporate what they are growing into their menus. The Conscious Kitchen is also well known by the local residents for the unbeatable pizza nights. Once a week they fire up their pizza ovens and the cafe packs out with hungry locals and travelers.
Balanced Wholesome Food
The New Zealand culture does an excellent job of balancing healthy food and indulgent options, without trying too hard. They serve appropriately sized portions just big enough to fuel a day full of adventure in the surf or bush!
Queenstown also had a great cafe on the way up to the gondola called Bespoke Kitchen. The kitchen was filled with delightful baked goods that quenched a sweet tooth but was not overwhelming with sweetness. A favorite of the bakery goods were the “ginger slices.” The slices are muesli bars with ginger frosting on top. It paired quite well with a frothy cappuccino before hitting the gondola for some down hill mountain biking! 😀
If you make it over to New Zealand, take some time to enjoy the eats along the way! In your travels, be prepared to cook in between cities, as it is still a very wild country with little along the highways. Once in a major city, you will certainly find a healthy cafe for a delicious bite on both the North and South Islands!
Have you been to New Zealand? Let’s hear about which spots were your favorite! Planning on going? Let us know in a comment below! 🙂