Food and Drinks in New Zealand

Known for its friendly culture and laid back national lifestyle, New Zealand is a great destination for fans of good food and drinks. With a world renowned wine industry and some of the best beef and locally produced lamb in the world, New Zealand cuisine is an interesting blend of the tastes that is sure to impress even the most discerning foodie.

Despite its small size, New Zealand's dairy and agricultural industry is one of the world's most highly regarded, producing high-end meats and dairy products for many of the world's biggest markets. While New Zealand's food is famous overseas, there's no better place to experience it than its home, and New Zealanders take great pride in the quality of their food.

Foreign visitors must try New Zealand's locally produced lamb and beef, especially if they're fans of these meats in their own countries. Unlike much of the beef found in North America, New Zealand's cows are grass fed and raised with fewer hormones than their American counterparts, resulting in an interestingly different taste and fewer potential adverse health effects.

New Zealand's dairy products are one of the country's biggest exports, and one of its most widely consumed products domestically. From locally produced yoghurt to New Zealand ice cream and deserts, it's tough to miss a New Zealand Natural stand while on your visit. Dairy products in New Zealand tend to be fresh, full of taste, and loaded with important nutrients for the body.

Of course, it's impossible to comment on New Zealand's best foods without touching on its best drinks. Known around the world for its wines, New Zealand is a wine guru's paradise. Most of the country's most well-known and celebrated wines are from the Tasman and Marlborough regions – a pair of wine-producing areas near the northern tip of the country's South Island.

Eating out in New Zealand is an enjoyable experience, with the country's immigrant population resulting in a wide variety of different foods available. In major cities such as Wellington, it's not hard to find food from several cultures on the same street corner. Malaysian, Lebanese, and Chinese food are popular with New Zealanders, both for dining out and as quick take-home meal options.

High-end dining options, ranging from gourmet French food to famous international dishes, are found in all of the country's major centers. Dining culture in New Zealand is similar to most other English-speaking countries, with short lunches the norm and most families eating dinner together. Extended lunches, as seen in many Western European countries, aren't a normal experience.

Unlike the United States, however, New Zealand has no tipping culture, and few restaurants will expect tips for their normal service. Tipping, however, is appreciated if you've received fantastic service, and there's unlikely to be a tip refusal, as you might experience in other countries. Tips of ten percent or more for restaurant service are considered very generous in New Zealand.

One major reason for this is that service in New Zealand restaurants is somewhat more hands-off than service overseas, with waiters rarely refilling drinks on their own. Diners are somewhat more responsible for their own service – if a drink is to be refilled for example, they're expected to alert the waiter and ask. This might catch some visitors, particularly Americans, off guard.

New Zealand's drinking culture is fairly similar to that of its trans-Tasman neighbor, particularly when it comes to sporting events and major celebrations. Beer is the drink of choice for most of the country, with almost every bar stocking a wide range of domestic and international beers. Bars and pubs are found in almost all towns, with most replaying local rugby games for patrons.

Despite the country's small size and limited population, New Zealand is home to a world class wine industry and a huge mix of different cuisines. Whether you're a serious wine guru, a hardened food critic, or merely an appreciator or a good meal, it's unlikely that you'll be disappointed with New Zealand's dining and drinking opportunities.