Let me start off by saying two things about New Zealand: One, it’s an absolutely beautiful country which is well worth a visit and two, it’s amazing for celiacs! If you’re gluten free and you love to travel, definitely get yourself to New Zealand! You will LOVE it!!
John and I spent three weeks travelling around the North Island. We spent time in Auckland, at the West coast’s rugged, black sand beaches, the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula and the Bay of Islands where we saw happy, jumping dolphins and hiked through some absolutely beautiful scenery. Down south, we spent time with thousands of glow worms, hundreds of geisers and a couple of kiwi birds!
In terms of eating gluten-free in New Zealand’s North Island, I found it extremely easy. I’ve travelled a lot in the last four years since my celiac diagnosis but nowhere has been quite as accommodating or has had quite the extensive range of gluten-free options as New Zealand does. The North Island, at least. We’re saving the South Island for another trip!
Because of the huge number of restaurants, cafes and coffeeshops we came across with gluten free options, I’ll just mention the ones at which we ate. As long as you know that gluten-free options are aplenty across the island, do not be afraid to explore. I guarantee you will not go hungry! Not only are there heaps of gluten-free options available but the level of awareness regarding preparing gluten-free dishes is extremely high.
I asked a lot of restaurants across the island, claiming to do gluten-free options, about their practices and policies for ensuring there was no cross contamination. I was extremely impressed by the level of awareness. Almost all of them had sensible practices in place to ensure the gluten-free options they served were safe for celiacs. I even got a few odd looks when asking whether or not gluten-free dishes were cooked in the same frier or pan as gluten-containing dishes. “Of course they aren’t”, I was told. “That would be cross contamination”. I was a very happy celiac in New Zealand. Despite the number of times we ate out and all of the different dishes I tried, I wasn’t sick once. Not one nasty symptom.
Some of the gluten free highlights I found in the North Island -
Groucho’s Cafe on 143 Wellesley Street in Auckland is a fantastic breakfast and brunch place which offers a huge selection of gluten free options. The owner is celiac and the food is really yummy!
Columbus Cafe has locations in Auckland, around the North Island and a few in the South Island. They do a nice variety of gluten free mains and a few gluten free cakes too.
Gluten Free Grocer in the Mt. Eden area of the city is Auckland’s 100% gluten free grocery store. They stock all the usual goodies from cereals to flours to breads. They also sell a variety of fresh goods if you fancy a wee sandwich, pie or cake to go. If you’re looking for more ideas for eating gluten free in Auckland check out both of these great My Gluten Free Town posts on the city!
In the Bay of Islands, Santeez Cafe in Keri Keri is 100% gluten free and was my favourite cafe on this trip! Sandwiches, lasagna, soups and amazing desserts are just some of what they have to offer. It was so good that we ate here three times in four days! You can find them on 93 Kerikeri road. Again, they are just a breakfast and lunch place so get there early.
The Kingsgate hotel in Paihia also does some gluten free options. Their roasted chicken with veggies and chutney was amazing!
In Whitianga on the Coromandel Penninsula, I found a few places which do fantastic gluten-free fish & chips. In order to prevent cross contamination, they fry the gluten-free fish in the chip fryer where nothing gluten-containing goes. Flipper’s Food Bar was the one we ate it and it made me a very happy celiac to be able to eat a fish supper again!
The Corogate Cafe was a road-side cafe we stopped at en route to Whitianga. Run by a lovely British couple who have celiacs in the family, they offer a variety of gluten-free goodies such as sandwiches, fish and chips and desserts. I loved this place. The ceiling is decorated with jigsaw puzzles and everything is British themed!
In the pretty town of Taupo, Body Fuel Cafe on 67 Tongariro Street, opposite the main visitor information center, has a bunch of gluten, dairy and egg free options colour coded with dots. Their Thai Noodle Salad is delicious, as is their chocolate caramel shortcake! Again,they close at 4pm. All the good gluten free places in New Zealand seem to close super early!
The Fine Fettle Cafe on 39 Paora Hapi Street in Taupo also does a fantastic selection of gluten free options, clearly marked with smiley faces. I was a big fan of their Thai Curry. Friends Cafe on Roberts Street and Indulgence Cafe on Horomatangi Street also offer a good selection of gluten free options.
In Napier we ate at Zigg Zagg cafe on Emerson Street. Theie soup was really tasty but be careful when ordering toast here as they use the same toaster as for normal bread. Ask for bread instead. Ujazi Cafe on Tennyson Street also does various gluten free goodies.
As for grocery shopping in New Zealand. Again, you shouldn’t have any problems finding safe products to buy and cook with. As well as all the fantastic naturally gluten-free products available, the big supermarket chains in New Zealand such as Countdown and New World have good gluten-free sections for picking up things like cereal, rice cakes, crackers and snacks.
For something to be labelled as gluten-free in New Zealand there must be no detectable gluten so you know what you’re buying is really safe! You will also find products showing the crossed grain symbol but with no wording saying “gluten-free”. All products produced in both New Zealand and Australia which carry this label follow the Codex Standard whereby the product must contain less than 20ppm. This level of gluten is considered safe by gastroenterologists and is the international standard for gluten-free. Check out Coeliac New Zealand for up-to-date information on gluten-free labelling and gluten-free goings on in New Zealand.
Do you live in New Zealand or have you travelled there? Where are your favourite places to eat gluten free?