New Zealand Travel Tip #5: Grocery ShoppingMarch 17, 2009
This tip really applies to anywhere you travel. If you’re a student, or just a backpacker on a budget, then at some point you’re going to give up on fast food and hit a grocery store to pick up some cheap, healthy eats.
Even if you’re only traveling for a short time and are perfectly happy with cafes, restaurants, roadside diners and assorted food carts and trucks, a trip to the grocery store can be a lot of fun, and very enlightening. It’s the kind of thing they don’t usually include in tours, but it will give you a lot of insight to local tastes and culture.
In New Zealand there are a few big grocery chains, along with the usual Mom & Pop style stores, bakeries and produce markets. New World is one of the big names and Pak N Save is another. If you visit a Pak N Save, note that you have to pick up your own plastic bags when you go in the store (and pay for them at checkout) or bring your own plastic or reusable bags. You’ll be packing your own groceries when you leave.
The eco-friendly reusable bags stores sell also make useful and cheap souvenirs. Costing just $1-2 each, you can use them to carry food, laundry or whatever you can’t stuff into your backpack from hostel to hostel, then pack them flat into your bag to take home with you.
I love to go through the produce section of a grocery store to see what’s in season and what kinds of fruits and vegetables another country has that I can’t find at home. Or maybe just to see if they call them something different.
From there I take a good look at the chocolate and snack aisles. Marshmallow seems to be big in New Zealand, and you can’t leave without trying a Pineapple Lump or Chocolate Fish.
Speaking of fish, have you ever seen so many flavors of tuna before? Or any flavor other than plain tuna?
The international aisle is also a good time, as every one that I saw was mostly made up of American/Mexican food, like Old El Paso brand salsas, seasonings and burrito and taco kits.
Finally, if you’re sitting around a hostel on a cold night, get some Tim Tams and a hot drink and try a Tim Tam Slam. That’s where you suck your drink up using the cookie as a straw. It melts in your mouth and goes down smooth. Wash it down with some Hokey Pokey ice cream – a flavor you’ll find all over New Zealand.