Kiwifruit, green-lipped mussels and other New Zealand delights
August 30th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
Share this on:

There's one fruit that everyone associates with New Zealand, and that's the kiwifruit - that green-meated, furry-skinned fruit that makes up half of the strawberry-kiwi dynamic duo.

Also known as the Chinese Gooseberry, they originally were grown in China but are now possibly New Zealand's best-known export, other than, say, Crowded House and Flight of the Conchords. It's named after the kiwi, the country's symbolic flightless bird.

iReporter Tab Hauser of Flower Hill, New York, was delighted that upon arriving in New Zealand in July 2010 for a visit with his family, he could find not only the standard green variety that we get in grocery stores, but also a golden yellow kiwifruit that was "a little juicier," as he described it.

Hauser found the kiwis and other exotic fruits, many imported from Asia, among the goods in stock at the Otara Market. Located about 20 minutes outside Auckland, the Otara Market is the largest outdoor market in New Zealand. It was also Hauser's first stop after landing. Dragonfruit, starfruit, Asian pears and Tahitian limes were among the produce he spotted for sale. Food is an important part of his tourism experience, Hauser explained.

"While seeing the sights is important, this foodie family finds taking part in the tastes of a visited country something we really enjoy," he said.

New Zealand's culinary options borrow from many other places in the world, so you can eat just about anything you want there. Everything from burgers to beer to Asian specialties.

Hauser was a big fan of the local seafood, including green-lipped mussels and regional fish and oysters. But if one thing stood out from everything, it might just be the fish and chips. Hauser pointed out that he thought New Zealand does this classic meal especially well.

"One should not leave New Zealand without having the fish and chips at least twice," he said. "Even our non-fish eater liked them."

Another iReporter also had a fish-and-chips experience when she visited in November 2010. Archi Agwal of Dallas, Texas, shared a photo of her devoured fish, along with pictures of a vegetable fritter, unusual drinks and coffee served in a container similar to a soup bowl. The fishy meals are everywhere, Agwal discovered.

"Fish and chips is the most common food that one can find in any small street side shop," she said.

Overall, Hauser says if you go to New Zealand, go ahead and indulge - whatever it is you decide to get.

"The bottom line is you won't go hungry in New Zealand and it will not break your wallet with the exchange rate as it is."

If you've been to New Zealand, we're curious what you would recommend and what you've enjoyed. Share what you think a traveler should eat, and any food-related adventures you've had in the comments area below.

CNN's Destination Adventure series takes a look at great places for eager explorers. Each week, we'll feature favorite regional foods, secrets from the locals and the best photos and stories from readers. Have you been to New Zealand? Share your story with CNN iReport. And next week, we'll journey to South Africa.

Posted by:
Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • Bite • Buzz • Destination Adventure • iReport • New Zealand • Travel

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Joe

    There is now also a red kiwifruit, I believe.

    September 16, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  2. TL

    Loved the chocolate waterfall in Dunedin.

    August 31, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  3. Raju Khanal (Ktm.,Nepal)

    Interesting story!, I couldn't read all of them right now. I wish to be with this page, later on. Thanks!

    August 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  4. Wil in LA

    The best fish and chips I've ever had was in Maungonui in Northland, North Island, NZ. I can't wait to visit NZ again.

    August 31, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  5. Paul Purdhomme

    There is nothing uniquely Kiwi. The Kumara are sweet potatoes brought over from South America, the feijoa are what we call Strawberry guava, the meat pies originated in the UK ad there is even debate about where the national dessert, Pavlova, originated.

    Kiwis ar great imitators in their cuisine, but in 5 years I have yet to see a truly original dish. There isn't a single Micheline star restaurant in the country, which should tell you something.

    August 31, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • suj

      If I were to have the chance to go to New Zeland the last thing I'd plan is what I'd be eating. It'd all be about exploring for me, I'd keep a jar of Vegemite and crackers in my pack because I'd only see city lights on the plane ride in and out.

      August 31, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Joe

      If it's so bad Paul, then why stay there for 5 years?

      I've had a great variety of their food, and they do it extremely well. Fish n chips, pies, lamb, sea food... it's difficult to be completely original with some of these, but I've found they do a very good job of it.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  6. Greg E.

    Spent a month in NZ this summer. The sights, the people, and yes, the food, were wonderful. The fish and chips are great. For part of the time we were staying with a family and they cooked us a traditional NZ roasted lamb...that was the best meal we had during our stay.

    If you're wanting to eat something tasty for cheap, go to a bakery and have a meat pie. They're awesome!

    August 31, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  7. Hank

    Nobody mentioned my favorite – hokey pokey ice cream. Just wonderful. Every restaurant we ate in was a delight and we did the best to reduce the lamb population, delicious every time we had it.

    August 31, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  8. Steven Moore

    The Occidental in Auckland had green lipped mussels so good we ate there once or twice weekly when my wife and I lived there. Wonderful wines, great variety of foods from many cultures. We had delicious sushi while watching a sumo wrestling tournament in a Japanese restaurant, fabulous Korean food, reasonably good Indian curry and melt-in-your-mouth good Italian food all within a few miles of each other in Auckland. The remainder of meals on both islands were excellent. The fresh seafood was fabulous. Absolutely amazing country with wonderful people and great eats!

    August 30, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  9. kchitwood

    I lived in New Zealand for one and a half years and always enjoyed the food there. The fish and chips were fantastic (particularly blue cod from the South Island), the wineries always had good fare and I could always go for a little bit of Burger Fuel – a bastard burger w/ beetroot, kumara chips and garlic aioli. Mmmmmmm! Wash that down with a Mac's Ginger Beer and I'll be right. New Zealand is way more than "meat and three vege" as the saying goes, it is a rich and varied cultural landscape with thousands of fantastic restaurants from the Burrito Brothers in Wellington to the Mao Bar/Aqaba in Palmy or the Twisted Hop brewery in Christchurch or Sahara in Northland there is always a good bite to be found. New Zealand is a magical country where the land, the people, the food, the drink and the sport all mystify you and surprise you with their depth and goodness. Certainly a place to be savored :)

    Now, I'm hungry!

    August 30, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • kchitwood

      I'm looking forward to the piece on South Africa. After our time in New Zealand we lived in South Africa, so I am looking forward to news of droewors and bunny chow!

      August 30, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  10. Former NZ Resident

    Lived in NZ for 6 years, traveled all over North & South Island. The raw ingredients are brilliant–Bluff Oysters put all other oysters to shame, seafood, dairy, produce, breads, wines–all great. Wish I could say the same for the restaurants which were mostly either traditional and terrible or ridiculously trendy and terrible. The best restaurant meal I ate in 6 years was at a Chinese restaurant owned by a Malaysian family in Auckland–all of the customers were Asian. If visit NZ, stay in "motels" that typically come with a kitchenette so you can cook your own food...

    August 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  11. jherryphons

    if you visit NZ, dont forget to eat the green and gold kiwifruit, try to compare them. And if you are looking for the real local food try too hunt for a HANGI – a Maori traditional food. If you go to a restaurant try their NZ inspired lamb and beef, it is nice to try.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  12. PRinNZ

    capital city is not Auckland CNN, its Wellington!

    August 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Cathy Turner

      Auckland is NOT the capital of New Zealand!!

      August 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
      • Nicole Saidi

        You're right about Wellington. Thanks for catching. I am going to correct that as soon as I can.

        August 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  13. Ted Wu, Los Angeles

    We were disappointed that the very distinctive differences between green and golden kiwis were not mentioned. The golden ones are always super sweet (we haven't encountered one as acidic as many of the green ones are yet). The golden ones are creamy enough to be eaten with a spoon. Surprisingly, the golden ones are delicious even when they felt hard and unripe outside.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  14. unclefcr

    @ mrs. smith, agreed. I can't believe that no one mentioned the quality of the lamb in NZ!!!!

    August 30, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Unbelievable that it wasn't mentioned.
      The green lipped mussels tasted to me, exactly like every OTHER mussel I've had all over the world.
      But, THEY were the ONLY ones available in Qatar. My buddy from Saudi LOVED my pasta sauce with mussels.
      We used to have contests in cooking, with no losers all around. :)

      I have given honest consideration of retiring to New Zealand. :)

      August 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Lauren

      Agreed! Particularly the Little Lamby burger at Fergburger in Queenstown.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:50 am |
  15. Burt...

    Flat White's and Ferg Burger were some of my highlights in April.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Peter Rea

      Amazing place, and so darn cheap. I did a choir tour there two summers ago and it was one of the most incredible things in my life.

      Certainly a little-known gem of travel.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • bob

      Of course the flat whites, another NZ feature overlooked and missed. Don't be fooled that its just another cup of coffee. Otherwise we'll might as well assume Starbucks is nothing orginal and is just another coffee shop.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  16. Andrea Smith

    Mussel fritters = YES!

    Possum Pate = DON'T DO IT! (I did – bleck!)

    August 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Wow! Possum, I'll eat. Possum pate, there are three chances of me eating it: Slim, fat and none.
      But then, I don't like ANY pate.
      I also don't eat brain, I don't seem to be able to digest it and it REALLY upsets my system.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  17. Gwenda

    Some of the food highlights I long for as a homesick New Zealander: The best chocolates I've every tasted (nothing in Manhattan came close) – – the Green Parrot in Wellington – – and the best ice-cream and distinctively different cheese from Kapiti ( ). Then there are the flat whites, the devonshire teas, meat pies, wonderful wines, and, for something completely different, check out a traditional Maori hangi. And I could go on...But wait, best place for fish and chips – Maungonui fish and chips, Northland.

    August 30, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Perhaps you have a business opportunity. Open a kiwi eatery for those who are far from home.
      Might actually manage to drag me up to NYC to try it and add a "language" to my cooking.
      My standing and rather accurate joke is, I cook in 27 languages and can curse in 7. ;)

      August 30, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Roberta

      I second the Kapiti ice cream. Also loved Wattie's tomato sauce, L&P soda, and feijoa everything. We were there in February, and it was wonderful to have fresh fruit and veggies that time of year. The kumara was delicious. We also enjoyed the hangi we attended. My favorite may have been the ease with which you can buy free range bacon and other meats. We traveled all over the North Island, and loved the people, the sights, and the food.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Paul Purdhomme

      As a foodie from San Francisco, it took some time to get used to the heavily British influenced cuisine here. But after 5 years of being here we have noticed some positive changes. But really Gwenda, the cheese fro Kaptiti is lifeless and tasteless and insipid. You need to go to France, or Spain or Italy and taste real cheese.

      The good news is you can get a good taleggio in NZ now and it is uaually cheaper than the styrofoam they produce here.

      August 31, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  18. Leon

    Thanks for the article, glad you enjoyed your trip. You may want to make a 'small' correction though – Auckland is not the capital of New Zealand. It is the largest city and contains about one-fourth of the population, but the capital is in Wellington.


    August 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Small hint, the CNN staff don't read the comments section normally, unless they're trolling for a new story.
      CNN has, hidden a bit in the site map, a contact us page with one for corrections.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
      • Nicole Saidi

        Actually, we do. Thanks for pointing out.

        August 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  19. Mrs Smith

    I'm sure that the Tausers had a wonderful trip, but it is surprising that a self-proclaimed "foodie family" isn't aware that every food they "discovered" in NZ is readily available in New York City - only 30 miles from their hometown. They should try a trip to a few NYC markets (particularly those on Grand Street), where they'll find abundant golden yellow kiwi, dragonfruit, starfruit, Asian pears, Tahitian limes and yes, even green-lipped mussels.

    August 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Haven't found golden yellow kiwi in Philly, but we DO get dragonfruit, starfruit, Asian pears and Tahitian limes. Haven't noticed the green-lipped mussels, but I didn't taste any real difference between them and any other mussel. But then, I have no sense of smell, might have missed something and my wife refuses to try mussels.

      Hmmm, note to self: While you still have that home made San Marzano pasta sauce frozen (they are in season locally, so we got a case and I made up 10 quarts of it), try THAT with the mussels...
      San Marzano tomatoes aren't as acidic as roma or other tomatoes, so have a different, milder taste.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • J. Macpherson

      The golden kiwi aren't that hard to find. My supermarket in Columbus OH often has them for sale, and it's just an ordinary supermarket. They're not that great though, IMHO – sweet, but bland. The green ones are better.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
| Part of

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,974 other followers