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5 Traditional New Zealand Recipes

Kimberly Vardeman on Flickr

Traditional Kiwi recipes!

Food is just another way, if not the most popular way, to immerse yourself in a culture. Why not take your New Zealand gap year or backpacking trip to the next level by making some traditional New Zealand recipes?

After tying a Maori hangi and eating savoury pies from every gas station you stop at, challenge yourself to make your own Kiwi dish. As a backpacker, there are often many reasons to cook, whether it is to save money for yourself or to impress your hostel or flatmates in a shared dinner.

We’ve included five New Zealand recipes that would go down well at a pot luck dinner party. Make your own onion dip with vegetables or chips for starters, make Southland cheese rolls as party food, whitebait fritters with your main course, and pavlova for dessert with some hokey pokey on the side. Did we just plan your entire dinner party here? I think we did.

What you’ll need for these recipes

Although hostels and flats tend to be well-equipped with cooking utensils, these are the common things you don’t often find lying around, so may want to buy other than the ingredients listed in the recipes below.

  • Measuring cup – use millilitres to convert directly into grams, and ‘cup’ measurements. They are usually small enough to fit in your backpack and come in handy pretty often.
  • Baking paper – Ok, this is not going to travel around with you, but ask around if anyone has some or just buy some anyway.
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Kiwi Pavlova Recipe

Pavlova is creamy meringue goodness topped with fruit – fresh fruit that New Zealand grows so well, so you can’t get more Kiwi than that! We recommend decorating with kiwifruit, but a mix with strawberries tastes and looks good too.

It’s the hardest to make out of our recipes here, but well worth a try to impress anyone willing to eat your creation. You will especially blow the minds of your peers if you have picked these yourself as part of the hugely popular backpacker job here in New Zealand. Check out more about the picking seasons and jobs here. Here’s how to make pavlova:

  • 3 – egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons – cold water
  • 1 cup – caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon – vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon – vanilla essence
  • 3 teaspoons – cornflour
  • 300 ml – cream (whipped)
  • 4 – kiwifruit
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  2. 2. Beat egg whites until stiff. (FYI: it is so much easier with an electric whisk).
  3. 3. Add water and beat again. (Sorry).
  4. 4. Add sugar very gradually while still beating.
  5. 5. Add vinegar, vanilla essence and cornflour while still beating.
  6. 6. You can finally stop beating and line an oven tray with baking paper.
  7. 7. Draw a 22cm circle on the baking paper and spread the pavlova mix to within 2cm of the edge of the circle, keeping the shape as round possible.
  8. 8. Smooth the top surface.
  9. 9. Bake the pavlova for 45 minutes.
  10. 10. Leave to cool in the oven.
  11. 11. Carefully lift the pavlova onto a serving dish and decorate with whipped cream and kiwifruit.

 Lou Stejskal on Flickr

Onion dip recipe

This one is super easy and a New Zealand classic! New Zealand onion dip is perfect with chips or vegetables.

  • 1 can – reduced cream
  • 1 sachet – onion soup
  • 1 teaspoon – vinegar

1. Put the cream in a bowl and stir in the onion soup mix and vinegar.
2. Place in the fridge for an hour or until it is thick and cold.

 Joy on Flickr

Hokey Pokey recipe

Hokey pokey, otherwise known as honeycomb, is most commonly found in New Zealand ice creams. Making it yourself is a bit like a science experiment. Here’s how!

  • 1/2 teaspoon – butter
  • 5 tablespoons – sugar
  • 2 tablespoons – golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon – baking soda

1. Grease a baking tin with butter and leave aside.
2. Put sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan.
3. On a low heat, stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.
4. Increase the heat and bring to boil.
5. Boil for 2 minutes and stir occasionally to prevent burning.
6. Add baking soda and stir quickly until the mixture froths up.
7. Pour into the buttered tin immediately and leave until cool and hard. Break into pieces.


Southland Cheese Rolls recipe

Otherwise known as Southland Sushi, this is a famous food item in the Southland region of the South Island. It’s basically cheese and onion rolled in toasted bread (with a unique taste straight out of Southland, of course).

Here’s how to make Southland cheese rolls:

  • 2 loaves – bread (sliced)
  • 200 g – colby cheese (grated)
  • 150 g – parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 can – evaporated milk
  • 1 cup – cream
  • 1 sachet – onion soup
  • 1 – onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons – mustard
  • Spread or butter (for topping)

1. Mix cheese, evaporated milk, cream, soup mix, onion and mustard in a bowl.
2. Heat in the microwave for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Put in the fridge to cool for a few minutes.
4. Spread cheese mix over one side of the sliced bread.
5. Roll each slice up into a spiral and place join-down on a baking tray.
6. Put spread the spread or butter on top of each cheese roll.
7. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

 Graeme Churchard on Flickr

Whitebait fritters

You either love it or hate it. Whitebait fritters are tiny freshwater fish in a batter. Fish is a huge part of the New Zealand diet, mainly because so many Kiwis enjoy going out on fishing trips, which you can learn more about in Fishing in New Zealand and see how you can do it yourself.

So if you want to try a classic Kiwi dish which is more on the fishy side, give whitebait fritters a try.

  • 1 cup – flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon – baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon – salt
  • 1 – egg
  • 1/2 cup – milk
  • 125 g – whitebait
  • 2 tablespoons – oil
  • lemon wedges

1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
2. Add egg and half of the milk.
3. Mix into a smooth batter. Keep adding more milk if not smooth enough.
4. Drain whitebait and mix in with the batter mixture.
5. Heat oil in a frying pan. (If you use a small frying pan, you can make multiple small fritters).
6. Add fritters and cook until golden on both sides.
7. Drain the fritters on absorbent paper and serve with lemon!

More food for thought

Everyone’s got to eat, so here’s some more food articles and recipes to see you through your New Zealand trip.

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