1. Fish’n’Chips

No list is complete without naming the staple takeaway meal, the crowd pleaser, the Kiwi classic – fish’n’chips. Now this simple dish can be enjoyed in a fancy restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall dive or the counter at a fish market. Regardless, as long as the seafood is fresh, it will be delicious. Customers can pick from tarakihi, hoki, elephant fish, blue warehou, red cod, snapper, and lemon shark. My favorites are tarakihi, hoki, and blue warehou because they are native to the New Zealand waters. They aren’t too pricey and they take to the batter very well. Whatever you choose, remember that New Zealand fish’n’chips are always made to order.


2. Meat Pie

As an American, when I thought of pies, I thought of tart, homemade apple pies and sweet pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. That was the extent of my knowledge considering I’m more of a cake girl myself. But when enough Kiwis tell you that you have to try the meat pies, well you try the meat pies. And it was the best decision I ever made! They steak filling is savory, the crust is flaky and buttery, and it is seasoned to perfection. My favorite pie has to be a butter chicken pie. It’s a great meal for on the go.

Photo by TEAN Alum Kathryn Muehleisen, College of Charleston
Photo by TEAN Alum Kathryn Muehleisen, College of Charleston

3. Lamb Kebabs

I was in Auckland, the most populated city in New Zealand. It is an incredibly diverse place and the food choices show it. I fell in love with Mediterranean lamb kebabs. In New Zealand, the sheep outnumber the people. New Zealand has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world so it’s not surprising that the grass is fresh and high quality. This is what all the sheep eat and it’s great to know that the lamb I eat was taken care of. The meat is succulent and melted in my mouth. I loved lamb kebabs so much that I would eat one every week, and they were delicious each time.

4. Seafood Paella

I am a proud Mexican woman and I love Mexican food. And despite the fact that paella is a Spanish dish, I have never tried it before I went to New Zealand. But when I passed the paella stall at an outdoor movie event in Auckland, the smell hypnotized me and I knew I had to try it. I would make the very biased yet true statement that New Zealand has some of the best seafood in the world because it’s so fresh. When I took my first bite of the loaded paella plate, I was overcome by the perfect blend of spices, fluffy rice, and the freshest white fish I ever tasted. I even enjoyed the mussels, which I never liked before.


5. Pavlova

If you get the chance to try pavlova in New Zealand, don’t make the mistake of saying this national dish originated in Australia. You are guaranteed to get a glare and then a history lesson on how the earliest know pavlova recipe came from New Zealand. This sweet dish is a meringue cake with a crisp crust, fresh fruit top, and a whipped cream filled center. I first tried pavlova at a Maori marae, to celebrate our arrival to New Zealand. This simply yet refreshing dessert was light and airy – perfect for after a heavy meal.


Kristy Plaza is a TEAN program alum and Global Ambassador at the University of Southern California. She studied abroad with TEAN in Auckland, New Zealand.