Since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease nearly ten years ago I have eaten a strictly gluten free diet. Whilst at home in UK I have my favourite gluten free restaurants and know that I can pretty much get anything I need at my local supermarket, travelling abroad can be an entirely different story!
Over the years I’ve been caught out on so many occasions particularly with eating out. I’ve learnt to be prepared but there’s nothing worse than sitting at in a restaurant whilst your family tucks into a delicious pizza or bowl of pasta and there you are with our trusty Eat Natural bar. Research is the key, you can never be too prepared!
Before our trip to New Zealand I did quite alot of research into gluten free brands and what would be available in the supermarkets. We had planned to self cater most of our three week campervan trip. Now that we are home I thought I’d share some of my experiences of eating gluten free in New Zealand.
Table of Contents
Pac ‘n’ Save is by far the cheapest. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t have much in the way of gluten free choices but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was a large GF section in each of the stores we visited. Plenty choices of bread, pasta, snacks and cereals. Let’s talk prices, in the UK I would pay £2.50 for a loaf of bread and around £1.20 for pasta. In NZ you are looking at $7 (£3.50) for bread and $3.50-$4 (£2) for pasta. Everything tends to be more expensive but the quality is great and the bread is so much better!
Popular GF brands are Burgen, Vogels, Bakeworks, Quality Bakers, Healtheries and San Remo.
All of the supermarket chains had great GF choices with the exception of Four Square. If I’m honest I preferred the selection at New World but if price point is the decider, its got to be Pac ‘n’ Save. Most of the large towns have a Pac ‘n’ Save.
Top Supermarket Tips
We found that not all the gluten free items are in the actual GF section. Particularly in New World. They tended to in amongst the other items. So GF bread was with the normal bread and GF pasta was in the pasta section. So you might need to hunt around.
Another tip is to be prepared! If you are touring and know that you are going to be spending a few days away from the major cities stock up before you head off. You don’t want to be stuck in a tiny town on the west coast of the South Island with Four Square as your only option. Not only do they have limited if any GF choices, they also because it’s ridiculously expensive. We only went to two and whilst prices were different in each it was vastly overpriced.
On The Go
One thing every Coeliac hates is having to grab a “quick” bite to go. Something quick that you can eat on the run or whilst driving. We weren’t faced with this scenario that many times but certainly on occasion I did have to get creative. Whilst the supermarkets have great choice of packaged GF items you don’t really want to be on the side of the road trying to make yourself a sandwich.
I was always able to find something in the supermarkets. Whether it was sushi, hummus and rice crackers or salad there was something. If you can’t find a supermarket you’ll find a Subway (they are everywhere) and like the UK and other countries the Subway salads are on offer. I was even able to get a takeaway GF sandwich in Kaikoura.
Top On the Go Tip
My biggest piece of advice is to again be prepared. Make sandwiches, salads and snacks etc so that eating on the go isn’t an ordeal. Will save you precious pennies as well.
Now this was the biggest surprise! We had visited over 25 countries and I can honestly say that New Zealand wins THE best gluten free eating out title.
We ended up eating out more than expected. In the three weeks that we were there I didn’t have one issue. Every single restaurant and cafe we went to had excellent GF selections. Even the tiny cafe we ate at in Twizel (South Island)! We found that almost everywhere had GF bread/rolls, pasta, cakes as well as naturally gluten free selections. Every menu we looked at had choice. I found most that staff were knowledgeable and helpful and I wasn’t “glutened” once.
I thought I’d list some of the favourite restaurants and bars we ate at. I’ve listed them by island for ease. I have also indicated pricing as well. Obviously this isn’t an extensive list but I only wanted to only recommend the places that we actually ate and enjoyed.
Cornwall Park Cafe – Cornwall Park Auckland – £
Cornwall Park Cafe sits within the stunning surrounds of Aucklands Cornwall Park. You can explore the park and famous One Tree Hill and then have a bite at the cafe. They have a great selection of breakfast, lunch and snack options. GF bread and cakes are available. I had a bacon sandwich with salad and was really impressed.
Location: Cornwall Park Pohutukawa Dr, Epsom, Auckland 1051, New Zealand
Shires Rest Cafe – Matamata – ££
This cafe is the meeting point for the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours. But whether you are a Lord of the Rings fan or not the Shires Rest Cafe is amazing and has a fantastic choice of GF dishes. I treated myself to Eggs Benedict and it was delish.
Location: 501 Buckland Rd, Matamata 3472, New Zealand
Fat Dog Cafe and Bar – Rotorua – ££
By far the coolest place to eat in Rotorua. They even have their own merch! The Fat Dog is a funky cafe and bar thats famous for its breakfasts and burgers. I had an amazing BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato) sandwich.
Location: 1161 Arawa St, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand
Whistling Sisters Fermentery – Wellington- £
In the centre of Wellington sits a cool little fermentery and boutique brewery called the Whistling Sisters, it serves awesome beers, coffee, breakfast and light bites. I ordered eggs on GF sourdough bread (I really like eggs) and it didn’t disappoint.
Location: 100 Taranaki St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
Cafe Cortado – Picton ££
Overlooking the gorgeous Queen Charlotte Sound is Cafe Cortado. It’s hard to describe this little gem as it has an varied menu that includes tapas, pizza, fish and chips and hearty meals. I had the crunchy chicken with sauteéd potatoes and salad, all gloriously gluten free!
Location: 30 London Quay, Picton 7220, New Zealand
Antiqua Boat Sheds and Cafe – Christchurch £
This historic building sits on the banks of the Avon in Christchurch. Here you can take a punt down the river and then grab a bite to eat at the cafe. There is so much GF choice and even if you just want a bowl of chips and the famous Aioli you can be assured that they are gluten free.
Location: 2 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8013, New Zealand
Fergburger – Queenstown £
By far the very best burger I have eaten, gluten free or not! Fergburger is a Queenstown institution, established in 2001 this famous burger joint sees queues out the door and down the street. It’s well worth the wait though. I had the classic Fergburger with an amazing GF bun that wasn’t the size of a thimble. No trip to Queenstown is complete without a visit to Fergburger…fact.
Location: 42 Shotover St, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
The London – Queenstown £
Under the streets of Queentown you’ll find The London Bar and Pizzeria. Serving amazing flat bread pizzas, pasta and burgers they also do the best GF pizzas. I’ve eaten some pretty good GF pizzas over the years but this one tops the list. The chef here was brilliant and even showed me where they handle the pizzas. Assuring me that they knew 100% about cross contamination.
Location: 36 Shotover St, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Big Fig – Wanaka £
I’ve saved the best for last. Big Fig in Wanaka was by far our favourite meal. Their ethos is slow food served fast. It’s a unique dining experience eating at Big Fig. You purchase a plate (small, medium or large) and then fill it with a choice of delicious healthy slow cooked meats, salads and vegetables. It’s hearty home cooked food served fast. Almost everything is GF! I could have eaten there every day.
Location: 105 Ardmore St, Wanaka 9305, New Zealand
Top Eating Out Tip
It’s a pretty simple one and that is when in doubt always ask. Even if a restaurant or cafe doesn’t have anything GF listed on the menu, ask them if they can cater for you. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
I really hope that you find this post helpful for planning your trip to New Zealand. Of all the countries we have visited I can say honestly that New Zealand wins the gluten free title.
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