Shopping in New Zealand.
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- Read the post
- 1Eating in New Zealand.
- 2New Zealand Supermarkets.
- 3Succumb to the Temptations.
- 4Where to Buy Organic Food?
- 5Honesty Box: A Brilliant Concept.
- 6New Zealand Local Specialties.
- 7Buying Food Without Going Broke.
Eating in New Zealand.
New Zealand is such an attractive destination. Before even having set one foot there, one dream of landscapes, dolphins... But wait! Even if life is beautiful, one must not forget that even there, one must go shopping and find something to eat according to a defined budget.
The more the departure is near, the more you start to ask yourself where you will buy food, or if you can afford to dine in restaurants most of the time.
I know that they may sound obvious, but these practical considerations are very important to spend nice holidays. After several hours of driving, or after a long mountain hike, your exhausted body usually asks some sugar... In such situation, any fast-food restaurant looks like an oasis in the desert.
Other travelers spend their entire budget in a succession of restaurants, when they do not succumb to a fast food indigestion at mid-stay.
I can assure you that healthy eating is an essential condition for successful holidays. Of course, it is by no means my intention to ask you to plan a regime during your New Zealand trip. But one must find a balance that keeps you satisfied.
So can we eat healthy and local in New Zealand? The answer is, of course, positive, and it is in fact as simple as at home! I suggest you follow my tour of the solutions to go shopping in New Zealand while tasting specialties that you will not find anywhere else in the world.
From supermarkets to local markets, without forgetting the Honesty Box encountered along roadsides, you have plenty of choice.
New Zealand Supermarkets.
If your trip across the two islands is exotic, the supermarkets you will encounter are far from being very original in their aspect. Large retailers known as New World, Countdown, Foursquare (mini markets) or Pack’nSave look like any other hypermarkets on earth at first sight.
In these establishments often open until the late evening (except on Sundays), you can find everything you need and even more.
The organisation is similar to what you are used to, with the doors opening on a vast space dedicated to fresh products like fruits and vegetables, with warm bread and pastries...
Not far away, the cheese stand is close to the butcher's. If you are in a hurry, you'll find caterers dishes sold by weight, and roast chicken with salads. You should find your happiness even if you are not here to buy food but solar cream...
Note the self-service shelves for seeds and other bulk ingredients, very popular in New Zealand. The biological space, called “organic” is impressive and offers a wide choice of products.
If the urge to cook like at home is too strong, there is a wide selection of imported products available.
Some are quite popular, like the French mustard from Dijon. Every product you need is generally available, except for some specialties, but you should find substitutes easily.
Eating and cooking in New Zealand is as simple as in your own country. Aside from the lack of goof french baguettes, products are most of the time equivalent to those we appreciate and it is easy to go shopping.
But of course, when one travel abroad, one must also to taste new products!
There are, of course, products that will make you smile, like the “French paté” sold in a French stamped tube, or some culinary atrocities like the sweet basil sauce (probably the worst thing that one can put in a salad in my humble opinion).You can offer some to friends or colleagues, then observe their funny faces. If you like this kind of joke, you should bring back some Marmite or Vegemite jars: these breakfast spreads are very popular in New Zealand, but one must have been raised here to be able to appreciate them.
In addition to daily food, you will find everything you need, from cosmetics tocamping equipment, and even nonprescription medicines which can be useful for any travelers, especially the ones with a Working Holiday Visa.
Succumb to the Temptations.
The huge supermarkets are, alas, familiars to most of us, but there are some funny details... For example, the milk sold in giant bottles, immense beer sections and the sausages sold per pack of one hundred (you are visiting a land where barbecue is a religion).
And here we are facing an essential point: the New Zealand supermarkets have a strong power of attraction if not irresistible on most travelers. Because all these repackaged products seem new to most people's eyes. You won't be the first victim to succumb for crackers, chips or treats of any kind sold in these labyrinths.
Difficult not to succumb to the temptation in front of whole shelves of unknown sweets in your own country.
In other words, your shopping cart in a Kiwi supermarket will be filled with an incredible number of products purchased just by curiosity. I'm not going to judge you, I did it myself a long time ago, and most purchases are quickly devoured in the car without real pleasure to be honest. But I won't spoil your fun, as this junk food is also a part of the culture of the country, and one must try it at some point.
This being said, keep your receipts and do your accounts. Because in a country where the average restaurant cost about $15, purchasing ingredients to make sandwiches for $30 remains a questionable choice... If the goal is to save money, do not visit a supermarket without having defined a budget limit!
At the checkout, one of the employees will fill your shopping bags. This small detail won't surprise those among us who are living in an Anglo-Saxon country, but the other ones could be surprised and may even consider leaving a tip!
Where to Buy Organic Food?
The supermarket is not the only option available for shopping in New Zealand! One can find a multitude of shops: butchers, cheesemongers, grocery stores... You can easily choose to eat locally to support small merchants without going over your budget.
The first has shops on both islands while the second is essentially based in Auckland region.
There is a real trend in New Zealand for the organic food and the “Zero Carbon Food” concept supported by more and more local startups.
The concept of eating healthy food without harming the planet has made its way in a country where so many people are driving 4x4 vehicles and where the ecological battle is far from being won (contrary to the green-country image delivered by many travel agencies).
More traditional, the weekend markets offer excellent opportunities to discover and taste local flavors and learn more about the region you are visiting.
If you usually enjoy the atmosphere of markets, you'll love the family atmosphere, very casual of the New Zealand markets.
Going shopping at the market is actually a great way to buy healthy food and meet New Zealanders.
For the Kiwi (if you can understand him despite his strong accent) is usually a very friendly guy, spontaneous, curious by nature and inevitably open to discussion. Going shopping at the market in New Zealand is the simplest and most direct way to get in touch with the local population. Not only with sellers but also with the other people. You should definitely try the experiment, and you won't regret it for sure!
Honesty Box: A Brilliant Concept.
The best is yet to come, because if you missed the market, you can still find delicious fruits, vegetables, free-range eggs and many local specialties on small stands along the road.
The concept is somewhat surprising! Imagine yourself driving in New Zealand when on the edge of the road, you spot a stand with apples and a sign announcing the price. You park on the side of the road, get off the car, then you suddenly realize that no-one else is present ...The seller merely exposed the merchandise prominently with the price and trusts the potential customers not to steal anything!
The concept of the Honesty Boxes relies above all on the honesty of the population.
The principle is very simple: you choose a product and pay by putting money in an “honesty box” provided for that purpose. No seller is present at the stand, nobody is watching! Choose whatever you want, pay and continue your trip with fresh products at the best price!
Such practice says a lot about the mentality of New Zealanders who are living in a country ranked as the least corrupt of the world according to international statistics. One must acknowledge that this mentality is quite impressive and beautiful !
Moreover, for completeness, please remember that even gas stations sometimes sell products from local farmers and at low price.
This may seem odd, but think about it the next time you go to refuel, and leave with a kilo of fruits and vegetables at the same time. Well, New Zealand has not finished to surprise us!
New Zealand Local Specialties.
Exploring a country also involves the discovery of its culinary treasures and New Zealand is no exception to the rule.
I invite you to taste the kumara (a sweet potato), the golden kiwi, macadamia nuts, manuka honey (an endemic tree with a very strong and delicious fragrance), chutneys of all kinds and especially the fruits with exotic names like tamarillo, feijoa or guava.
There are even golden kiwis (not the green ones) in New Zealand!
In a country well-known for its flocks of sheep, the lamb is a must. It goes without saying that the frozen lamb from New Zealand who sails through 18,500 kilometers of seas and oceans to reach Europe can compete with the one you may order at a local restaurant.
Carnivores can also feast and enjoy other high-quality meats such as beef or venison.
If you are a vegetarian, please forgive us, we are going to change the subject.
The lovers of seafood will appreciate the freshness and especially the quality of some products like giant green mussels, crawfishes or the famous white bait (a local specialty of small fry to be tasted in omelettes). All of these wonders must be tasted at least once during your stay!
The excellent New Zealand wines have gained an international reputation.
There are also some great cheeses and local wines produced on the two main islands of New Zealand. Some dairies are worth visiting, especially near Mercer (Auckland Region) and in the Kaikoura peninsula. Wine tasting is recommended in the Marlborough region or on Waiheke Island, and one does not need to be a connoisseur to enjoy it.
I saved the best for last with dessert! Gourmets (yes, you!), will succumb to the sweet treats of the pavlova, cheese cake, banana bread... and many other delicious confections.
Buying Food Without Going Broke.
To estimate your food budget in New Zealand, you can compare the price differences with your home country on the numbeo website. But in practice, saving money depends far more of the traveler's habits than prices in stores. On vacation, it is difficult not to succumb with so many temptations.
When it comes to healthy eating, people traveling in motorhomes are necessarily advantaged if their vehicle has a kitchen with hobs. And because they have a fridge they won't waste food and can achieve great savings.
On the other side, people traveling by car are not sentenced to compose sandwiches on the side of the road after a quick visit to a supermarket. And they have other choice than ruining themselves in restaurants every night.
The motels offer opportunities to live like at home, and this no coincidence if so many families are trying to book these establishments in priority : one can make his cooking like at home.
Regardless of your mode of transport or your type of trip in New Zealand, you can always eat healthily in the land of the Kiwis.
I wish you a good appetite. Our dear friend Ben the Kiwi, is in charge of the questions and answers section on Kiwipal.
Although he tends to be overweight because of his unconditional love with pastrami, he will guide you on the path of wisdom and healthy food (most of the time).
Questions & Answers.
What can I do for you? Shopping in New Zealand is a fun experience where you can test local products. I will not choose for you, but I can give advice with great pleasure.
- All topics ... 14 answers in total
- Supermarkets 5 answers
- Local Specialties 3 answers
- Honesty Box 2 answers
- Imported Products 2 answers
- Budget 2 answers
- Are supermarkets easy to find?
Large supermarket stores are only present in large or medium-sized towns. Elsewhere, you'll find mini-markets such as Four Square.
- What is the best supermarket chain?
You have to be a Kiwi to make a difference between New World and Countdown supermarkets. For the passing traveler, this will not make any noticeable difference, because the rates are similar.
- What are the opening hours of supermarkets?
In large cities, supermarkets are open from 7 am to 11 pm from Monday to Sunday. The schedules are more standard in the provinces, but the opening in the evening is often the rule.
- Can I pay by credit card in a supermarket?
Yes, you can pay by credit card, but pay attention to bank fees.
- What is the purpose of EFTPOS cards in New Zealand?
It is a very popular withdrawal card in New Zealand, which only works in shops and not on the Internet. It often happens that the cashier asks you if you own it, but it is not mandatory.
- What is the best Burger restaurant in New Zealand?
Undoubtedly the Queenstown Fergburger, or his cousin the Devil Burger of Queenstown, but what is certain is that you will not taste it at McDonald's.
- What is the local specialty?
If we had to mention one, it would probably be the White Bait omelette, but the green mussels or the Pavlova would be on the podium.
- Should we taste the marmite or the Vegemite?
If you have the taste of risk ... but ask your friends to try before you!
- Where to find Honesty box?
Almost everywhere in the country, but especially in the wine-growing regions or those producing the largest part of the country's fruits and vegetables, including Bay of Plenty, Northland, Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Nelson, Marlborough and Central Otago.
- Will the Honesty box concept disappear?
It is a fact, the increase of tourism rhymes with an increase of stealing. It is very likely that the Honesty Boxes will disappear within a few years, at least in tourist areas.
- Are there any French products available?
Some industrial products like laughing cow or chocolate are easy to find. Other products are available on the international shelves of supermarkets, although they are often pale imitations. It is certainly not in New Zealand that you will enjoy good croissants, but you probably do not come here for that.
- What kinds of products cannot be found in New Zealand?
Of course, you will not find delicatessen products in New Zealand, but virtually all of the basic products are available, whether it's fruit, vegetables, dairy ...
- How to save money during the trip?
The advice is simple: rent motels and cook your meals as at home. But keep an eye on the budget, otherwise the meals will be more expensive than the restaurant's ones.
- Are prices cheaper than in Europe?
Prices have balanced in recent years, but Europeans may find some products cheaper.
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