Although New Zealand is known for it’s meat and seafood, it’s a vegetarian friendly destination.
Be warned that food costs and eating out in New Zealand are considerably more expensive than in the US.
1. Asian cuisines are well-represented in New Zealand.
If you feel like Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Chinese etc you’ll have no problem finding those restaurants and almost all will have vegetarian options.
2. There are few vegetarian only restaurants but almost all restaurants have vegetarian options.
- Note that almost all cheese in New Zealand uses animal rennet so avoid dishes with cheese if this is a problem.
- You may also want to ask about meat-based stocks etc.
3. Supermarkets have plenty of vegetarian options.
You will usually be able to find vegetarian-rennet cheese in larger supermarkets.
If you can find it, try Geraldine Vintage Cheese by Talbot Forest (as I said New Zealand is expensive and this cheese is around $50 a kg). Things like hummus are easy to buy in the supermarkets. There are some yogurts that don’t use gelatin but these are generally 500gm or 1kg tubs.
Some supermarkets carry products like vegetarian sausages. Almost all supermarkets carry a few varieties of tofu. All supermarkets have canned chickpeas and beans.
You won’t find some things in New Zealand supermarkets e.g., vegetarian bacon.
4. Hosts will try to accommodate you but may not understand your needs.
Lots of New Zealand teenagers go through phases of being vegetarian and non-vegetarians often eat some vegetarian meals. However, most NZ vegetarians are of the relaxed variety (eg will eat foods with gelatin, animal rennet etc). If you go to a BBQ at someone’s house, it’s highly likely that your hosts won’t think that cooking the veggie burgers on the same grill with the meat would be a problem. If it is a problem for you, you can speak up and expect that people will try to be accommodating. Just ask for what you’d like e.g., for your food to be cooked on top of a piece of aluminium foil so that it’s not in contact with meat juices.