Friday, April 17, 2009

Shopping like a Kiwi

My DH thinks that this is a really boring topic to write about but when you move to a different country you still have to go food shopping and plan and provide meals for your family. This means you have to try out all the different supermarkets and shops and even explore the different foods on offer.
There seem to be four different supermarkets in Wellington. "New World", "Countdown", "Pack n Save" and "Woolworths". And no unfortunately its not the Woolworths we know from the UK its just a food shop and doesn't have the famous pick and mix isle or the bargain bins of cheap cds.
Countdown and Woolworths are owned by the same large company and Pack n Save and New World are both owned by another large company. This has led to media claims that these two large businesses have come to a deal and are artificially keeping food prices high as there is no other competition. Hope is however on the horizon as apparently Aldi is thinking of coming to New Zealand. I will look forward to that then!
If you want an idea of what these chains are like in comparison with UK supermarkets I think Woolworths is probably the most expensive and most like shopping in Marks and Spencers whilst Pack n Save is the cheapest and more like Asda or even a large cash and carry. The food is packed floor to ceiling and unlike the other supermarket they don't pack your bags for you they just bung everything back in the trolley. In New World they pack your bags at the check out and the girls enjoy going to our local branch as the lady on the till gives them a fairy stamp on their hands every time we visit.
There are other places to go to get your food shopping as there are some large butchers in the larger towns but I haven't had a chance to explore them yet. There are also numerous farm shops along the main highway as you head out into the country. I have been told that they offer good value for money and obviously the produce is fresh and local. There are also things called "Dairys" which are actually newsagents and small corner shops.
When we moved to Brussels we had to change our eating habits to accommodate the different types of food available (for example its very tricky to find Marmite or Branston pickle) and in New Zealand its no different. However there are familiar brands that seem to be found everywhere. Kellogg's is obviously found world wide and Heinz baked beans are for some reason now called "Watties".
The food in New Zealand is heavily influenced by the first English settlers and there are loads of fish and chip shops. They are also influenced by their proximity to south east Asia as there are also lots of sushi bars and loads available in the supermarkets as well. Fish is obviously fairly cheap and so is (unsurprisingly) Lamb and Beef. However chicken is weirdly expensive and not as popular as in the UK.
There are a few products that you don't tend to see in the UK but are quite popular in NZ. Kumara is a sweet potato that can come in various different colours and is one of the few vegetables that my awkward DH will actually eat and like.

Kiwi fruit is naturally a very common feature in supermarkets.

There are a few other foods that seem to be typically Kiwi. One of my favourites is the pineapple chunks in chocolate. Yep they are as delicious as they sound and are one of the most popular things in all the sweet isles. There is also Hokey Pokey. This is a flavour of ice cream invented in New Zealand which has a sticky caramel honeycomb flavour and chunks of hard caramel in it. I haven't had a chance to try it our yet but (purely in the interest if science you understand) I will be testing it in the near future.


  1. We've noticed the tomato sauce and baked beans are sweeter here than in Australia. But it's good for kids that their are so many familiar brands - eg, Vegemite, Weetbix, 2-minute noodles. It's a comfort in a strange place. We miss Heinz baked beans in ham sauce!

  2. Dont think I have ever had Heinz baked beans in ham sauce - sounds interesting!

  3. just wondered in terms of fruit vegetables can you still get the same as in the UK eg celery, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, mushrooms, mangos, persimmons etc....?