Fish boat at Wellington Farmer's Market
Fresh fish at the Wellington Farmer’s Market

Going to new places means trying new things, right? Before I came to New Zealand I absolutely hated fish. I don’t know if it was the smell or the bizarre slimy taste, but I just hated them. One Sunday, a few friends and I were making our weekly trip to the farmer’s market in town when we saw a crowd of people around a fishing boat in the harbor. The fishermen were selling fresh fish right off the boat! My friends decided to buy some blue cod and teraki fish for dinner. That night we cooked the cod and my friend told me to close my eyes and open my mouth… I knew what was coming. When a piece of fish was forked into my mouth I was surprised by the flavorful, totally non-fishy, melt-in-your-mouth taste. Fresh New Zealand fish is definitely better than any I have tried before. I loved it! New Zealand is also famous for its giant (and I mean giant) green mussels. After I tried the cod, I decided that I was ready for the big leagues. When my mom visited me, we ordered garlic butter green mussels at a local pub. Once again, I was amazed at the incredible taste of the food that I once despised. New Zealand is definitely the place to go for seafood!

I am a coffee addict, and was looking to try something new. A Kiwi friend told me to try a flat white at a coffee shop. A flat white is a cappuccino of sorts that was created in New Zealand and Australia and is a very popular drink here. The coffee is covered by a very thin layer of foam and usually has some artsy design on the top.  I was completely hooked after my first flat white, and I now get them at least once a week at a little coffee shop near my flat.

Kiwi Flat White
Flat white with a NZ silver fern design

Another beverage that New Zealand is famous for is ginger beer. It is a carbonated ginger drink that sometimes contains alcohol. During a trip to Napier, my friends and I stopped at a brewery called the Filter Room and were able to sample different kinds of beer that they offered on tap. We tried our first ginger beer and it was amazing! It is very sweet and refreshing. Ginger beer is sold at the local grocery store for a reasonable price, so it has been my go-to drink to replace lemonade when I want to sit in my backyard on a beautiful day and enjoy the view of Wellington!

I have also tried foods here that I am familiar with, but are paired with other foods that I never would have thought to pair them with. These dishes are different than what I am used to, but have been surprisingly genius combinations. When my mom and I traveled to Picton, we ordered potato wedges at a restaurant as our appetizer. When the wedges came, we noticed that they were served with sour cream and sweet chili sauce. I had only tried sweet chili sauce with Asian foods, but decided to give it a shot. It was the perfect combination of sweet, salty and zesty. Totally original!

Wedges in New Zealand
Wedges in New Zealand, with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream

Being in New Zealand has given me the opportunity to try some great new things. It is amazing how even small risks can leave me feeling accomplished. That is one of the best aspects about studying abroad; one becomes open to everything. We try new things even if they make us uncomfortable at first, and surprise ourselves with what we find that we like!

Wellington Farmer's Market
Wellington Farmer’s Market

Lauren Anderson is a student at Drake University and a TEAN Featured Blogger. Lauren is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Wellington,  New Zealand.