It is always nice to have home cooked meals as an option while traveling. This is especially true if you plan to travel for an extended period of time. Purchasing food from a grocery store rather than constantly eating out provides the opportunity to eat home cooked meals, save some money, and explore local food diversity.
There are several large scale supermarket grocery stores in Auckland including Countdown, New World, and Pak’n Save. In addition to these supermarkets each neighborhood typically has at least one small convenient store known locally as a “dairy.” We were very happy to discover that we had several options available within walking distance of our Airbnb.
There was a Countdown supermarket just one mile from our Airbnb which became our grocery store of choice. We signed up for their rewards card to start receiving special discount. It was free to sign up for the card, you just need to go online and register before it can be used.
Most everything within the grocery stores are the same in some form or fashion to what we are accustomed to in America, and most of the “big name” products are available. The common and well known chip, snack, and soda brands are all available with some exceptions.
Does New Zealand have Ranch and Ketchup?
We had been told by several sources that New Zealand did not have ketchup or ranch dressing. To our surprise, after weeks of preparing for a life without ranch, we walked by shelves filled with both ranch and ketchup. Needless to say we were extremely excited and bought a bottle of ranch. That evening we ordered some pizza and opened up our newly purchased ranch. It had a very tangy and almost sour flavor. It was good, but different than we are accustomed too.
Ketchup has been a little more hit or miss. There seems to be two types of ketchup flavors here and one tastes similar to what we are used too but sometimes we have an extremely sweet flavor ketchup. This sweet ketchup tastes good but is definitely different!
The lunch meat in the prepackage and from the deli are both very similar to America in both flavor and texture. The prepackaged, however, is very small in size and only enough for one meal. Since there are four of us and we love our sandwiches we needed more meat than the packages provide. We prefer to head over to the deli and get 200-400 mg of sliced lunch meat, which usually lasts us a week.
We bought pre-formed hamburger patties to make burgers at home. The raw beef appeared as we expected but when cooked turned red. We continued to cook the patty as we thought it was still raw. We eventually realized that it was this red color for other reasons and we still don’t know why, but it did taste great and we didn’t get sick. If you know why it was this color please let us know in the comments below!
The hot dogs here have both a different flavor and texture. They taste very similar to spam type meat with a soft pate texture whereas the hotdogs in America have a firmer texture.
The bacon is similar to what we would call Canadian bacon in America. We are not sure if the cuts are thicker or different in other ways but the bacon does not get crispy.
Vegetables and Fruits:
The vegetables and fruits are the same in both texture and flavor and so wonderful! We have learned a couple interesting differences though.
Cilantro is known as coriander here in New Zealand. After some back and forth with the supermarket crew and a lot of confused faces we remembered that cilantro seeds are known as coriander. So while in America the leaves are called cilantro and the seeds are called coriander, in New Zealand the leaves are called coriander and the seeds are called coriander seeds (the word cilantro does not exist). Luckily we got it figured out and the supermarket crew pointed us in the direction of the fresh coriander!
Fresh Jalapenos have been extremely difficult to find here. We got lucky one time and found a package of three tiny jalapenos (if combined they would equal one jalapeno from Oklahoma) for $5.
A huge adjustment being on an island for so long is truly appreciating the concept of buying “in season.” When we first arrived in New Zealand winter had just ended and therefore many fruits and vegetables were not in season and their prices were crazy high! A single zucchini was priced at $30!!! The price, however, is slowly dropping as they are coming into season.
The international isle contains a section for USA which is awesome! This is where you can find Root Beer but we have yet to see Dr. Pepper. They also have, among other things, Heinz products available.
Eggs are not refrigerated and on a regular shelf!
We raised chickens in Oklahoma for four years and gained a lot of knowledge about eggs in that time. We learned that eggs do not need to be refrigerated and that most of the world does not refrigerate their eggs. We had been conditioned, however, by our surrounding environment to egg-spect (sorry had to do it!) them to be refrigerated at the store and to keep them in the fridge at home. So when we saw them not in the fridge and on a shelf it was fascinating! We even stopped putting them in the fridge when we get back to our Airbnb!
Some milk looks like cleaning solution.
The milk is delicious and tastes as expected but certain containers have a design aesthetic that seems to resemble cleaning solution. We don’t think that this would ever be an issue but we sure found it interesting.
Other Interesting Things to Note:
Bare Feet are Common
It is extremely common for people to be barefoot in New Zealand. Although we heard of this before arriving, the first time we saw people walking through the grocery store barefoot we were amazed. We love the idea of being barefoot and once our sensitive tinder feet toughen up no more shoes for us!
Passport needed for adult beverages
As a reminder for those traveling outside of their country, you must have your passport on hand to purchase alcohol. We decided to purchase some wine while at the grocery store and the manager asked for identification. He denied us the sale of the wine when we gave him our Oklahoma drivers license. He explained to us that they only recognize a New Zealand drivers license or passport as valid forms of identification.
Going to the grocery store when traveling not only provides a means to save money but also a wonderful insight into local tastes. There are many supermarkets and dairies in New Zealand with a large selection of foods and beverages to choose from. While some food will be the same, some will taste very different! We have been having so much fun trying different things from the grocery store and discovering new flavors!
If you have a story about trying something new from the grocery store please let us know in the comments below!