New Zealand, a land of natural beauty and cultural diversity is also home to some of the world’s most delicious fast food. With a population of over 5 million, Kiwis have a wide variety of options when it comes to fast food, from international chains to local favourites.
In this blog post, we will explore the most popular fast food in New Zealand, including its history, cultural significance, and why it has become a staple in Kiwi cuisine.
Whether you’re a visitor to the land of the long white cloud or a local looking for a quick and tasty meal, this guide will give you an insight into the world of fast food in New Zealand.
So let’s dive in and discover what makes these fast food options so popular among Kiwis!
What fast foods are in New Zealand?
One of the most popular types of fast food in New Zealand is fried chicken. The two major brands are KFC and Chicken Liken, similar to American chains but with a subtle Kiwi spin.
Fast food restaurants in New Zealand sell plain pieces of dark meat for $2.99 (Australian dollars), and you can purchase a meal with a drink and fries for under $10. KFC also is famous for its hot chips.
Which are sold in buckets of 20, 30, or 40 depending on the size you want. They usually cost around $3-4 (Australian dollars) and are commonly sold as a side to any meal.
The most popular fast food in New Zealand is pizza, which can be bought from numerous takeaway stores around town or through delivery.
Some of the biggest chains are Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. Other than that, you may come across different Italian dishes like pasta, lasagne or cannoli and a small selection of Chinese fast food.
McDonald’s – The Leading Burger Chain
McDonald’s is by far the largest fast-food chain in New Zealand. It arrived in 1976 with its first restaurant in Porirua. Today, McDonald’s has over 167 restaurants across New Zealand and serves over 1 million customers a week.
McDonald’s menu includes burgers, fries, wraps, chicken products, and McCafe coffee. Some of its most popular items include the Big Mac, Cheeseburger, and Chicken McNuggets. McDonald’s has added healthier options and customized burgers to appeal to changing tastes.
The golden arches are a familiar sight in cities and towns nationwide. With its family-friendly atmosphere, convenience, and consistency, McDonald’s remains the go-to for burger-and-fries. It is famous for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
KFC – Famous for Fried Chicken
When it comes to fried chicken, KFC is king in New Zealand. Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its first restaurant in 1971. Today, there are over 90 KFC outlets across the country.
KFC is renowned for its secret blend of 11 herbs and spices coating its fried chicken. Popular menu items include bucket meals, burgers, box meals, and popcorn chicken. Limited-time offerings such as KFC Krushers milkshakes also attract queues.
The chain positions itself as an affordable option for the whole family. Kids love the chicken nuggets, chips, and kids’ box meals. KFC has cultivated a loyal following over its 50+ years in New Zealand.
Burger King – Rival to McDonald’s
Burger King is McDonald’s main rival in the burger market. It arrived in New Zealand in 1993 with its flame-grilled Whopper burgers. There are now close to 90 Burger King restaurants in the country.
Along with staples like the Whopper, menu options include chicken burgers, fries, and shakes. Burger King boasts more giant burgers compared to McDonald’s. Popular picks include the Double Whopper Bacon and Chicken Royale.
Burger King targets a younger demographic with quirky advertising campaigns. Its digital initiatives and delivery options also attract millennials and university students. While it trails McDonald’s in size, Burger King remains a top alternative for burger lovers.
Pizza Hut – For Pizza on the Go
When it comes to pizza chains, Pizza Hut leads the market in New Zealand. It opened its first restaurant in New Lynn in 1974. Today, there are over 145 Pizza Hut outlets across the country.
The menu features oven-baked and pan pizzas in flavors like Hawaiian, Meatlovers, and Vegetarian. Sides like garlic bread, chicken wings, and pasta are available. Pizza Hut often runs deals like 2-for-1 pizzas, making it an affordable dinner or party option.
Pizza Hut has an extensive delivery service. Ordering online or via its app makes getting fresh pizzas delivered piping hot easy. Pizza Hut’s recognizable brand and convenience help cement its popularity.
Domino’s – Major Pizza Delivery Player
Domino’s is Pizza Hut’s primary competitor in the pizza delivery space. It brought American-style pizza to New Zealand in 1983. Currently, Domino’s has over 150 locations nationwide.
Domino’s is primarily a delivery and takeaway outlet with limited dine-in seating. Its hand-tossed and thin-crust pizzas come in a variety of toppings. Domino’s is known for speedy delivery, guaranteeing to arrive within 20 minutes.
Tracking features in Domino’s app allow customers to follow their orders from preparation to delivery. Popular options include the Pepperoni Lovers, Hawaiian, and Chicken & Bacon pizzas. Domino’s regular discounts and deals help attract students and families on a budget.
Subway – Largest Quick Service Restaurant Chain
When grabbing a quick sandwich, Subway is New Zealand’s dominant player. Subway first opened in 1998 and has expanded to over 200 locations today. This makes it the country’s largest quick-service restaurant chain.
Subway is known for its made-to-order sandwiches and salads. Customers can create their combo by picking bread, protein, veggies, cheese, and sauces. Top sellers include the Chicken Strips Sandwich, Steak & Cheese, and Meatball Marinara.
Subway branches are in CBDs, motorways, universities, and suburban neighborhoods. Its varied menu, affordable prices, and speedy service make it popular for a fast, lighter meal. Subway’s healthy image also appeals to calorie-conscious consumers.
Hell Pizza – Popular Homegrown Pizza Brand
Unlike the American pizza chains, Hell Pizza originated here in New Zealand. Started by two Wellington entrepreneurs in 1996, Hell Pizza has grown to over 70 stores nationwide.
Hell Pizza features an eccentric, fun brand image centered around its devilish mascot. Its pizzas have quirky names like Blood of the Damned, Sinister and Unholy Donut. Along with innovating unusual toppings, Hell also offers classic flavors.
Value deals like Feed the Beast and Sin Bins make Hell Pizza affordable. Its vital home delivery service competes with Domino’s and Pizza Hut. Hell Pizza has carved out a niche based on its unique Kiwi style.
Georgie Pie – Quintessential Kiwi Meat Pies
No list of Kiwi fast food would be complete without mentioning the iconic Georgie Pie. Founded in 1977, Georgie Pie is now owned by McDonald’s but retains its distinct brand identity. There are over 30 Georgie Pie outlets in the North Island.
Georgie Pie is known for its tender, juicy meat pies in crisp pastry shells. Favorites include the Steaktastic, Bacon & Egg, and Pepper Steak pies. Sausage rolls, hot dogs, and sweet pies are also on the menu.
These savory handheld pies are a quintessential Kiwi food experience. Georgie Pie’s traditional charm and meaty flavors make it a go-to for a comforting hot snack on the run. The brand embodies a sense of nostalgia for many New Zealanders.
Factors Driving Growth of Fast Food in New Zealand
Several factors have fueled the popularity and growth of fast food in New Zealand over the decades:
- Convenience – Fast food provides a convenient meal solution for time-pressed consumers. Long working hours, busy schedules, and casual dining preferences drive demand.
- Cost – Fast food is relatively inexpensive compared to sit-down restaurants. Value combo deals and discounts make it budget-friendly.
- Speed – Fast food lives up to its name with speedy service. Most outlets strive to deliver food within minutes of ordering.
- Taste – Kiwis love the signature flavors of fried chicken, juicy burgers, and hot pizzas served up fast. Cravings drive them back.
- Innovative Technology – Apps and online ordering make fast food even more convenient today. Tracking and delivery features appeal to digital-focused generations.
- Strategic Locations – Placing outlets in easily accessible locations like CBDs, motorway rest stops, and suburban shopping centers maximize exposure.
- Marketing & Promotions – Fun campaigns, celebrity endorsements, and promotions like McHappy Day help boost brand awareness and engagement among Kiwis.
Health Concerns Pose a Challenge
The popularity of traditional fast food is undeniable in New Zealand. However, some severe health concerns pose challenges to the industry:
- Obesity rates and lifestyle diseases like diabetes are rising, causing alarm. Fast food is often criticized for its high fat, sugar, and calorie content.
- There are more excellent calls for fast food chains to take responsibility and make their menus healthier.
- Chains are responding by adding salads, wraps, and low-calorie options. However, critics argue more significant nutrition changes are needed.
- Younger generations are becoming more health and environmentally conscious. They want locally sourced ingredients and sustainable business practices.
- Plant-based burgers and alternative proteins may disrupt the sector if chains don’t innovate.
- Government initiatives like soda taxes could impact sales if implemented.
- Smaller health-focused competitors are emerging to meet the demand for “clean” fast food.
The fast food landscape may shift if these concerns are not addressed. Chains must focus on nutrition, sustainability and innovation to attract customers.
The Future of Fast Food in New Zealand
Fast food is unlikely to disappear from New Zealand’s culinary scene. But, the rising health awareness and preferences of millennials and Gen Z present opportunities for evolution.
As lighter options gain popularity, we will likely see more made-to-order bowls and wraps. Chains could redesign their menus with more plant-based proteins, less processed ingredients, and low-carb alternatives. Marketing will highlight sustainability and nutrition credentials.
Technology will continue enhancing the customer experience through order tracking, customization options, and loyalty programs. Dining areas could get revamped to feel more modern and welcoming for those eating in.
While staying true to their signature flavors, brands must cater to changing priorities. The future of fast food in New Zealand is likely a healthier and more transparent one. The convenience and taste factors keeping Kiwis coming back will surely endure.
- Fast food is deeply embedded in New Zealand’s culture, mixing US chains and homegrown brands. McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut are the dominant players.
- Convenience, speed, taste, and value for money make fast food appealing to busy Kiwis. Strategic locations and technology further drive growth.
- Health concerns around obesity, nutrition, and sustainability pose challenges for fast food chains.
- The industry must adapt through menu innovation, ingredient changes, and positioning itself as more health-focused.
- Fast food looks set to remain popular in New Zealand, though it may evolve to meet changing consumer preferences. The core emphasis on taste, price, and convenience endures.
What is the most popular type of fast food?
As in every country, burgers are also popular fast food menu items in New Zealand. There are several major players, including Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s. Depending on where you live, you might come across the local brands of Burger Fuel or Grills.
The price can vary from $3 (Australian dollars) for a plain burger to more than $10 (Australian dollars) for a meal with fries and a drink.
Burger Fuel sells a wide range of gourmet burgers, like the Tiki burger topped with cheese, bacon, fried onions and BBQ sauce. It can be difficult to make up your mind because there are so many burgers available!
Not only do fast-food chains offer burgers. There is a trend of making your burger at home or going to the backyard and throwing it on the barbeque. It has become very popular, and it has spread all over New Zealand from Wellington to Auckland. People like cooking their food themselves, getting creative with toppings, meat choices, sauces etc.
The Bottom Line
With so many fast-food restaurants in New Zealand, it can be not easy to decide which one is the most popular. But we have narrowed down our list, and this is what we found!
If you are looking for a specific restaurant that wasn’t mentioned here or want more information on any of these places, please let us know, and we will do our best to answer your question. And if you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe and share it with your friends!