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Food Shopping in New Zealand

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Everyone’s got to eat.

When backpacking in New Zealand, it’s cheaper to cook food in your hostel or flat than to indulge in eating in restaurants or takeaways. In order to take the drastic measure of cooking for yourself, and following all of our budget-friendly recipes, first you must go food shopping! This article shows the common places to buy food in New Zealand and some tips on how to save the cents. It’s your complete guide to food shopping in New Zealand!

New Zealand’s grocery shops include supermarket chains, convenience stores and farmers markets. We’ll go through each one of them, along with their pros and cons, in this article.

If you need inspiration on what to buy, see our: Backpacker’s Food Shopping List.

New Zealand’s Supermarket Chains

The main supermarket chains of New Zealand are:

  • New World
  • Countdown
  • PAKn’SAVE
  • Four Square
  • Fresh Choice
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Food Prices in New Zealand

New Zealand has many reasons for being such a budget-friendly backpacker country but, unfortunately, the food prices is not one of them. Despite having a huge dairy and horticulture industry in New Zealand, much of it is exported, keeping the domestic prices pretty high compared to what you might find at home.

Typically food prices in New Zealand are as follows:

 

  • Pasta/500g – NZc90-$2.20
  • Rice/kg – NZ$2.40
  • Bread/loaf – NZ$1-4
  • Eggs/dozen – NZ$3-7
  • Tuna/can – NZ$2
  • Cheese/kg – NZ$8-10
  • Milk/litre – NZ$2-3
  • Tomato/kg – NZ$2-$4
  • Apple/kg – NZ$3-$4.50
  • Potato/kg – NZ$2-4
  • Onion/kg – NZ$1.50-3.50
  • Chicken/kg – NZ$8-15
  • Beef/kg – NZ$10-17
  • Pork/kg – NZ$6-15
  • Lamb/kg NZ$17-36
  • Pint of Beer or Glass of Wine – NZ$8
  • BigMac – NZ$5.20
  • Take-away pizza – NZ$5
  • Coffee – NZ$4-5

For more about budgeting for a trip to New Zealand, check out What is the Cost of Backpacking in New Zealand? and What is the Cost of a Working Holiday in New Zealand?

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Supermarkets in New Zealand

It’s a bit of a no-brainer that supermarkets are the way to go for your larger grocery shopping list. Not only do they sell all kinds of edible goods, they have variety. This is ideal for a tight backpacker budget where you can choose cheap brands such as Pams, Budget and Woolworths. Buying food loose, for example fruit and vegetables, baked goods, and meat from the meat counter is usually cheaper than buying pre-packaged goods. We also recommend looking at the “price per quantity” that legally has to be shown on pricing for food products in New Zealand. This way, you can work out which food item really is the cheapest!

For more supermarket tips, check out 11 Backpacker Tips to Save Money on Food.

Supermarket discount cards

We recommend the huge warehouse store PAK’nSAVE for cheap and cheerful food. When PAK’nSAVE fails to be present, Countdown and New World have regular special offers. Before you buy anything from New World, ask for a tourist card so you can benefit from the discounts.

If you know you will be using a particular chain often, consider getting a loyalty card for in-store discounts and to collect points for discounts. More information on those can be found in 7 Discount Cards for Backpackers in New Zealand.

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Convenience Stores in New Zealand

Convenient stores, or the local ‘dairy’ as a New Zealander would say, are indeed more convenient but more expensive than supermarkets for food shopping. They have a bit of everything and sometimes offer additional services like postage, phone credit top-ups and the lottery.

The Four Square is your most common dairy in New Zealand, while many others are independently owned.

New Zealand Dairy Tip:

A chain convenience store in NZ is Night n’ Day, which is notably enticing with its selection of cakes. However, Night ‘n Day tend to do monthly offers on certain takeaway meals every Tuesday, such as NZ$1 lasagne in July. How’s that for a backpacker budget?

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Farmers marketes

Supporting local business, tasting fresh food, and getting involved in a Kiwi community is why farmers markets have flourished in NZ. Many townships host markets every Saturday or Sunday. Some markets go all out with live music so can be entertaining too!

By cutting out the middleman, shopping for fruit and vegetables at markets is, in theory, cheaper than buying at a supermarket. However, this is not always the case, so try to remember how much you spend on fruit and vegetables at the local supermarket to compare these prices.

For more details on local farmers markets in New Zealand, check out our range of “Cheap Eats” guides.

 

Extra Facts About Grocery Shopping in New Zealand

  • Although you can buy beer and wine in supermarkets, you can only buy spirits in liquor stores
  • Speaking of alcohol, make sure you know What ID is Valid for Buying Alcohol in New Zealand?
  • Some of the bigger towns and cities have Asian, Indian and European supermarkets, such as Kosco
  • Alternatively, you can buy Indian, Asian and European food online and have it delivered
  • Countdown offers online shopping in some cities, however there is a hefty delivery charge
  • New World offers grocery delivery in Wellington
  • Finally, and most importantly, the cartoon man on the Four Square logo is called Charlie.
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