Our 5 Best Tips for Vegan Vanlife in New ZealandHow to thrive as a vegan travelling around New Zealand in a campervan or motorhome on a budget
Vegan in New Zealand
We spent three months in New Zealand and drove around the North Island in two different campervans for a month and the South Island in a bigger motorhome for almost three weeks.
It quickly proved to be much easier to eat a healthy vegan diet on a budget than we had anticipated.
We had so many great meals; both home-cooked and from some of the many vegan-friendly places around the country.
Here are 5 of our best tips for a successful vegan road trip in New Zealand:
Table of contents
1. Cooking yourself is the way to go
To keep costs down and to stay healthy, your best bet for long-term vegan living in New Zealand is definitely to primarily rely on homecooked food.
If you’re travelling around by campervan or in a motorhome, you will have access to a small kitchen.
Even if all you access to is a single stovetop, it’s still possible to make lots of amazing vegan recipes that taste amazing, are easy to make and are budget-friendly.
Having a fridge is a big help. If you just have a cooler box that’ll surely come in handy, too.
Here’s some inspiration to get started:
2. Find the best supermarkets for vegans
New Zealand’s supermarkets were way better for vegan shopping than we had expected.
The main ones are Countdown and New World.
Four Square operates a lot of smaller but usually well-stocked outlets.
The Warehouse is a buy-in-bulk type place that we didn’t really like.
In general, the best vegan food products could be found in Countdown – although the more “modern” New World’s in the bigger towns had even more abundant options and rare speciality vegan products like Beyond Burger, Naturli’ etc.
If you try to mainly buy organic stuff as we do, you’ll come to know the Australian brand Ceres very well.
Organic fruit and vegetables are, unfortunately, often obscenely expensive in New Zealand.
Discounts can be had at both New World and Countdown with their own discount-cards. They’re both free and the savings do add up. Inquire at any store to know more.
3. Seek out farmers markets for fresh produce
Buying your fresh produce from local farmers make sense on several different levels.
By buying stuff that is local and in-season, you will get the healthiest, most nutrient-dense produce.
You’ll also cut down on emissions and help the local economies.
Sometimes you don’t have to venture to a farmers market to buy from local farmers but can instead buy local fruits and vegetables by the road – often with honour systems put in place. Don’t be a jerk.
4. Carry food containers
So you don’t have to cook every meal from scratch, it’s super handy to carry food containers when travelling around New Zealand in a campervan as a vegan.
Though you probably won’t be able to cook up a really big batch and store leftovers in the freezer for the rest of the week, you’ll at least be able to save enough for next day’s lunch.
When you’re on the road and just want to grab something quick and easy, this is absolutely perfect.
Sure, you could eat some toast with peanut butter and jam (or vegemite if you can stomach it!), but wouldn’t you rather have some of that delicious rice with daal, potatoes and tofu in creamy coconut curry from last night?
5. Know where to eat out
We found a lot of great vegan options in restaurants and cafés all throughout the North and the South Island of New Zealand.
HappyCow is a great place to look and where we often start our search for vegan-friendly places.
At the time of writing, there were 58 vegan listings, 87 vegetarian and 693 with veg-options in NZ.
The following cites have all-vegan places to eat in New Zealand:
- Auckland (18)
- Wellington (8)
- Christchurch (6)
- New Plymouth (3)
- Dunedin (3)
- Hamilton (3)
- Tauranga (2)
- Whangarei (2)
- Nelson (2)
- Palmerston North (2)
- Raglan (2)
- Hastings (1)
- Matakana (1)
- Devonport (1)
- Oamaru (1)
- Queenstown (1)
- Rotorua (1)
- Thames (1)
Even non-veg restaurants usually have a marked vegetarian option that can often be modified to become completely vegan.
Our favourite vegan places to eat in New Zealand
We always try to support and promote all vegan cafés and restaurants when we stumble upon them and we were super grateful to visit a few in New Zealand:
- Lord of the Fries (Auckland): A fast-food joint in downtown Auckland that most people probably don’t realise is completely vegan.
- Tea and Happiness (Rotorua): The owner Karin is very passionate about vegan cooking and does all kinds of workshops and classes besides serving up some seriously delicious vegan fare. The burger was just what we needed while passing through Rotorua on our road trip.
- Raw Balance Raw Food Deli (Taupo): We had smoothie bowls and (too many) raw cakes at Raw Balance Raw Food Deli in Taupo and loved it. Apart from the menu offerings, there are also some nice vegan products for sale and a whole library for you to tear through while hanging out. The cafe is vegan except for dairy milk offered for drinks and some honey.
- Let Them Eat Vegan (Dunedin): A really cute hole-in-the-wall type place that serves up absolutely delicious dishes at low prices. They make a lot of their ingredients themselves and you have to try their cheeses. So good!
Thank you for reading our tips for living your best life as a vegan travelling around New Zealand.
We had such a blast visiting this remote and stunningly beautiful country and hope that you will, too!
Let us know in the comments if you have any additional tips or questions. Thanks!