Gerrit van Rooyen
Some Genuine Kiwi Treats
If you are coming to New Zealand for the first time there are some foods and drinks you just have to try while you are here, because they top just about anywhere else in the world! I’m going to be talking about treats that you can get in just about any shop around the country rather than speciality items or specific cuisine that NZ is great for. Most of these things you can bring home with you for friends and family (maybe not pack the ice cream though!)
Whittakers makes the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Just get a bar in every flavour and fill up your suitcase. Dark Ghana is aces for any dark chocolate lover and for something a bit more iconic New Zealand try the L&P white chocolate or hokey pokey. They also have a new Artisan range with flavours like Marlborough Sea Salt and caramel brittle with saffron if you really want to class it up. This is mid-range chocolate, so not too expensive but really good quality. I haven’t found a top-shelf one that matches it.
New Zealand does some great ice cream. You almost can’t go wrong with anything made here but some of the best ones, in my opinion, are Lewis Road Creamery and Kapiti. Try Hokey Pokey if you want something classically kiwi. That’s if you are buying from the shops. If out in Wellington you’ll find Cafe Eis all over the CBD. They have handmade gelato and sorbet that are constantly winning awards. I suggest the salted caramel gelato or the lemon sorbet.
Crisps (or chips if you prefer) and usually only 3 ingredients so you wouldn’t expect a lot of variety in quantity. Yet, somehow, proper crisps from Nelson just gets it exactly right. You can’t beat the original salted ones, but if you want different flavours, give the green chive and onion a go… if you don’t mind the breath it’ll give you.
Pic’s peanut butter is another product of Nelson. I remember getting it right from the maker at the Nelson Saturday Market (a must-do activity if you are in the area) way back when it was a new product. Nothing put peanut and salt and it was perfection. Now you can find in just about any shop around NZ but the quality hasn’t suffered from the growth.
Instead of having your millionth coke, try an L&P while you’re here. It’s a refreshing lemony fizzy drink with a really unique taste. You might love it, or hate it, but most people seem to love it.
I couldn’t get through this list without mentioning good ol’ Tim Tams. Although this is about New Zealand foods and Tim Tams, while popular here, is indeed Australian. So keep it kiwi and try Chit-Chats instead. They are like Tim Tams, but with nicer chocolate. Because we all know NZ does chocolate better than Australia. At least in my experience, they do.
RJ’s licorice is the way to go if you have a serious sweet tooth. I can’t speak to the black licorice, as I won’t touch the stuff, but the red ones are sublime. They are soft and chewy and truly yum. Made right here in NZ with natural ingredients, you can’t get any better.
The real iconic NZ treats like Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps are also around and have stood the test of time, still tasting the same they have since ages ago. Just remember to leave plenty of room in your suitcase for all the goodies you’ll be dying to take back with you.
Whether you end up sharing them or keeping them all to yourself is up to you. They will make great gifts for people back home.