Though kiwis have a long history of serving food from caravans – a new generation of cooks is pumping up the local New Zealand street food scene.
If you needed any confirmation that Aucklanders – who are obsessed with eating anything with kale in it – are equally happy eating fried things while standing up, head to the city’s Silo Marketson the waterfront at Silo Park.
On Friday nights between spring and autumn, films are projected onto a former grain silo – and alongside is a market full of pop-up food outlets, including a bar selling great craft beer. Sit down by the water, feel festive and watch a classic movie (like Top Gun) as the sun goes down behind the harbour bridge.
Highlights at Silo Park include The Lucky Taco, Tiger Burger, which combines Korean kimchi and chilli with burgers – a combination that is somehow deeply logical – and Judge Bao, which serves slow-cooked pork belly inside a puffy white bun (Chinese restaurants across the city sell bao, but none as delicate as this).
Meanwhile, in Wellington, the annual Visa Wellington On a Plate festival features a Food Truck Trailer Park, in which the city’s finest vendors park for up to a month. Year-round Antojitos Taco Truck and The Greek Food Truck's souvlaki are worth checking out. But, you don't need to just visit for the festival to enjoy Wellington's growing food truck scene. Head to the waterfront any day of the week and you'll find an assortment of the city's 40+ food trucks offering great food...on the move!
Though street food has a long history in New Zealand, it’s only recently gained a cult-like following. Not far from Silo Markets and the Streetfood Collective in downtown Auckland, the White Lady has been serving burgers from a long white caravan throughout the night to hungry revellers – and late-working lawyers in neighbouring office towers – since the 1950s. The menu for this family-owned business has barely changed over the years – the “Classic” is, well, classic – and they’ve never served fries.
Further south, meanwhile, generations of road-trippers have stopped at Nin’s Bin, beside the road just north of Kaikoura on the east coast of the South Island: a pre-cooked crayfish and a stack of white bread and butter, which you eat at picnic tables beside the crashing ocean. It’s perfect: the smell of the sea, the taste of the crayfish and the fact that you’ve just paid about a quarter of what you would anywhere else.
The operation is currently on hold due to the recent earthquakes but I have no doubt they’ll continue with their legacy – it’s an iconic piece of NZ culture! There's also a fabulous night food market on the coast in Papamoa (my local) where I got this amazing pie!!!! You'll find markets like these scattered far and wide throughout New Zealand.
Back in Auckland, The Lucky Taco is about to launch a range of taco kits in supermarkets, part-funded by a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. You might be able to find them in supermarkets around New Zealand, but the heart of the operation is still that little truck. Check it out!
Best Time to Visit
Winter is short and mild in Auckland and summer is glorious, of course – but the city is most active time in spring and autumn, when the city’s residents are back from long summer holidays and the place comes alive with concerts, film events and markets.
How to Find Them
The nature of food stalls and pop-ups can make them a little hard to track down. Keep an eye on silopark.co.nz for the summer’s events, or head to streetfoodcollective.co.nz for a run-down. Most vendors also have wicked Instagram accounts – so definitely stalk them there.