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Vegan Travel New Zealand: Self-Catering Guide

Vegan travel to New Zealand isn’t too hard. Many people hire their own car or campervan to travel around New Zealand (or backpack). Hostels and campgrounds will generally have kitchen facilities, so self-catering for at least some of your meals is an easy option.

If you bring a camping stove, you’ll be able to cook for yourself when you don’t have kitchen facilities. Consider bringing a cooler that you can chuck in the boot of your rental car, or buying one here.

Supermarkets

Big supermarket chains like Countdown, Pak’n’Save and New World provide plenty of options for vegan protein. You’ll find all the vegan protein staples like hummus, tofu, and canned beans and lentils. Most non-vegetarian New Zealanders like to eat vegetarian meals some of the time, so even small town supermarkets will provide these options. Try Watties Chilli Beans – an Australia non-vegetarian friend has people bring them over to her.  Even if you like spicy, get the mild kind and add some chili flakes for extra heat, they’re much nicer than the ones labelled Hot. These are baked beans in a tomato sauce and are excellent on toast with Olivani (vegan butter alternative).

Lots of products here (e.g, bread, chips) contain milk powder.

Sugar is generally not processed with bone char in New Zealand.

Especially in the big cities, supermarkets will have a section of gluten free products. Since gluten free products are often also vegan, this is likely your best option for finding vegan cookies (or as New Zealanders would say “biscuits” or the term of endearment “bikkies” pronounced like “bic-eze”). Things like nut butters will usually be in these sections. Ask for the allergy, gluten free or natural food sections.

Vegan Dairy Alternatives

Don’t expect to find any Veganaise or vegan sour cream.  Vegan cheese (“Cheezly” brand) is only carried by a few specialist vegetarian stores – no Daiya. There is a brand of soy cream cheese that is available but hard to find. It’s called Kingland. You can get soymilk, rice milk etc easily at supermarkets.  New World is one of the more upscale supermarket chains and is your best bet for soy icecream and a very limited selection of soy yogurt. You can’t buy coconut ice cream or coconut milk yogurt (Although coconut milk and cream are easily to find in any supermarket). While you’re at a New World, pick up a jar of Pic’s Peanut Butter (the nuts are actually grown in Australia, where it’s warmer, but are processed here. It’s delicious!). 

You can’t buy Earth Balance here, but a serviceable vegan spread for sandwiches or toast is called Olivani and is available at any supermarket.

Asian Grocery Stores

New Zealand’s big cities  have a large Asian population. If you want to buy tofu, bean sprouts,  rice noodles or any Asian staples, they will be much cheaper at the Asian grocery stores.  Indian supermarkets and bulk bin places like the “Bin In” chain are the cheapest places to buy nuts and seeds.

Vegan Labelling

Except for products marketed to allergy sufferers, there are no helpful “V” or vegetarian/vegan labels on products here like there are in the UK or at Trader Joes/Wholefoods in the US.

 

New Zealanders generally like to be helpful.

If you have some request to make, people will try to help you out.  Just ask.

 

Other notes

Nutritional yeast can be very hard to find.

Expect food prices to be higher than in the US, especially for specialty vegan items.

1 Comment


  1. //

    Hi, came across this when I googled vegan in New Zealand. I’m Australian and have travelled to NZ a lot, and am moving there this March. Just a couple of notes –

    In the North Island (South Island is much harder due to smaller population size), you can easily get CoYo (coconut yoghurt), Tofutti products (for cream cheese, sour cream etc.), and nutritional yeast in health food stores in any sizeable town (e.g. Hamilton, Taupo, Napier etc.). Nutritional yeast is known by its old brand name, “Brufax” – Kiwis used to put it on their toast up until the 90s when it got discontinued. EVERY New Zealander over the age of 30 will know what you’re asking for when you ask for Brufax! They’ll still point you towards nutritional yeast – either the Australian Lotus food brand labelled “savoury yeast flakes”, or Engevita.

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