I can’t believe that I’m already writing an “end of New Zealand” blog post! Our time in New Zealand went by so incredibly quickly and now I find myself in Japan, thinking back on all of the wonderful things we did, and more importantly, ate in the last three weeks. So here it is, the roundup, the third of my little series.
It didn’t take us long to find out how expensive New Zealand was going to be. We had plans of getting the hop on/hop off bus and getting to as many places on the two islands that we could in our time there. We had plans of eating at all the best vegan places. When we found out how much the cheapest of the hostels were, we traded those plans for rice and beans and hitchhiking. This and the fact that it was surprisingly more difficult to find vegan things in New Zealand (more so than Peru!) means that I can’t tell you about as much amazing cheap vegan food as I want to. There were a few little gems we found, however. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. Mostly, the gems were the places that we were shown by other vegans or vegetarians. Which brings me to my first category! I’m ditching the “foraging” section and changing it to “markets” this time because we were mostly in cities again.
A good friend of ours showed us around Wellington. This meant museums, restaurants, beautiful sights, and most exiting for me- Markets! Our friend likes to do all of his veg/fruit shopping at markets. The produce is better and much, much cheaper this way. There are markets on every weekend in the summertime, so it’s easy to stock up enough for the next week. While they weren’t quite as plentiful, weird, and cheap as the markets we found in Peru, the Wellington markets had a lot of really nice fruit. When we got to the south island, we found that fruit could be bought almost everywhere and at any time, by people selling for the orchards on the side of the road, in town, or just outside of the grocery stores. We grabbed some of the famous cherries we’d heard so much about and were not at all disappointed in them. We also went to a market on our own in Oamoru. I wouldn’t recommend that one. It was very small, full of cheese vendors, and just not at all the fresh veg paradise that the bigger markets in Wellington were. Maybe you’ll get lucky, though. Either way, markets seem to be plentiful in the summer and are a great way to save money on nutritious food!
Dining out was more difficult than either one of us had anticipated. It’s not that there aren’t heaps of places to get vegan options, it’s just that they’re hard to find. We spent our first day in Auckland, wandering around in circles for ages trying to find something to eat after travelling for 25 hours. The following day, we found out that many of the places we walked right by had vegan options, they just didn’t advertise them outside and their names didn’t suggest anything vegan was in store. In fact, we found out that this was how it was pretty much everywhere in New Zealand. An internet search didn’t always bring up places that one could go. It seemed that you already had to be in the know, or know someone in the know, to know where to eat. You know? Luckily, we met a few vegans and met up with a vegan that we already knew, and they showed us the ropes a bit. Because of that, we got to check out lots of omni/vegetarian places with vegan stuff that we probably would have given a miss. Some places were good for convenience and not much else, like Burgerfuel. Other places were out of the way, but had amazing things in store, like the Tart Bakery. Yet other places, had amazing things for vegans, but were too expensive to justify a return visit, like Giapo’s. Either way things went, it was good to have a little list of the places that had things for us, in case we were hungry and a bit lost. I highly recommend getting in touch with other vegans before coming here as well as reviewing all the listings on VeganTravel.
Eating at home/hostel:
Because New Zealand puts real dairy butter/milk/etc in their food, rather than using an artificial flavour, it was much more difficult to find accidentally vegan things in the grocery stores here. We did find that the free-from sections sometimes had dairy-free things that happened to be vegan, and that was a welcome discovery for the occasional sweet-treat. We even found that dairy-free ice cream, which happened to be vegan, was sold in most grocery stores and that the greatest go-to snack- chips and houmous, were also readily available. For mock meats and cheeses and specialty things like nutritional yeast, you had to go to the pricy health food stores. Rice and beans were easy to find, though, and easy to supplement with whatever veg you might have bought in the markets. We mostly ate that, and also ate some pretty decent breakfasts with the help of the free food sections in hostels. These are great places to grab some cooking oil and any kind of bulk item like rice, quinoa, bread, oats, pasta and heaps of spices. Some hostels have more free food to offer, as a result of having more people come through. It’s pretty inconsistent, so I wouldn’t rely on it- I would just check before buying an expensive bottle of cooking oil just to use a tablespoon! We also lucked out with our couchsurfing this go-round and managed to stay with two vegans and a couple who understood vegan food well and were willing to help us out with food and cooking. Again, I highly recommend getting in touch with vegans and vegetarians before coming here as they will be very sweet and very helpful!
Anyway, I guess that about sums up everything we dug into while in New Zealand. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!
Until next time,