Gluten-Free in New Zealand’s South Island

New Zealand is a wild landscape filled with unique biodiversity, thrilling outdoor adventures, and a very allergen-friendly society. New Zealand is a country where many of its citizens have a diagnosis of celiac disease. This means gluten-free food is both easy to find and very common all over the country.

Coeliac New Zealand Incorporated (CNZ) is a non-profit organization that advocates for families and individuals with celiac disease. CNZ has a specific dining out program which provides a certificate to restaurants who have undergone gluten-free training. It helps ensure that gluten-free eaters and those with celiac disease can dine out safely. 

Gluten-Free Guide to New Zealand

Gluten-Free Guide to New Zealand
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In all of New Zealand, you will find the local grocery store shelves packed full of various products, baking mixes, bread, snacks and more gluten-free items. Pak’N Save, a chain supermarket in New Zealand, has an extensive gluten-free aisle. They even have Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, gluten-free, made without barley malt.

Health food stores are very popular in New Zealand and you can locate one in any town. They will have organic produce and allergen-friendly products. You can stock up on any gluten-free products you may need for your vacation.

The South Island of New Zealand offers fabulous destinations for solo travelers, couples, and families. If you are planning to visit New Zealand and adhere to a gluten-free diet, you can rest easy. There will be no shortage of gluten-free choices!

Christchurch

Always be sure to ask questions wherever you are in New Zealand. Food allergies are common among New Zealanders, and as a population, they are very cognizant of cross-contamination. Most restaurants and eating establishments are very accommodating! The Christchurch Airport also has gluten-free options. Even some of the lounges offer gluten-free food upon request, including bread and cereal.

Christchurch is a small city with inviting outdoor spaces and a lively atmosphere. Though still rebuilding from the earthquake of 2011, there is a charming downtown area and plenty of great dishes to be sampled. There are two 100% dedicated gluten-free facilities: Totally Gluten Free Bakery and Pavillion Foods Gluten Free Choice. Both offer baked goods, pizza crusts, breads, cakes and more!

“Takeaway” is common at restaurants and many have gluten-free selections. It’s New Zealand lingo for carry out service rather than dining in.

Supreme Chinese Takeaways and 1040 Takeaways have dedicated fryers and delicious gluten-free foods to take away. This is a great on-the-go option which can save you time while also being safe for you to eat. 

Don’t forget to try Rollickin’ Gelato, one of the most popular ice cream stops in Christchurch. The servers will tell you which flavors are gluten-free and will also share with you their cross-contamination procedures. They even have gluten-free brownies and chocolate sauce you can have alongside your ice cream. Yum!

Queenstown

Queenstown is an action-packed and fun city. It’s known for adrenaline-packed activities like skydiving and bungee jumping, but also for having the best burger in New Zealand – Fergburger! It is a definite must if visiting Queenstown. From the outside of the Fergburger restaurant, you can see paragliders overhead!

The lines here may be long, but the food is worth the wait. Fergburger has set procedures to avoid cross-contamination and they pay special attention to guests with allergies. They have gluten-free buns and a dedicated fryer & kitchen space. You can even enjoy their fries with their famous gluten-free aioli sauce!

If you are craving tacos, try Taco Medic. It’s a dedicated gluten-free facility with various taco flavors and fillings! There’s also Rehab for an east lunch or takeaway, and Winnie’s is known for delicious gluten-free pizza. This pizza joint was even named by Lonely Planet as a “must go” stop! For some middle eastern wraps and salads, check out Habebes. They offer Lebanese food with gluten-free selections.

Fiordland National Park

There are numerous tour companies in New Zealand that visit different sites of natural beauty on the South Island. Fiordland National Park is famous for the Milford Sound, offering boat cruises, day hikes, and gorgeous scenery. It’s become one of the most visited destinations on the South Island and gets more than 200 days of rain a year! The vibrant colors of the greens and blues here are a testament to that large amount of rainfall!

Most tour companies in Milford Sound will offer a package that includes a boat ride and meal, which may be combined with another activity like kayaking. While the meal might be daunting if you are gluten-free, some companies take great care to provide allergen-friendly options so you don’t have to worry!

Southern Discoveries is an excellent choice for a day trip to Milford Sound. They offer various daytime packages as well as allergen-friendly picnic lunches!

The gluten-free lunch includes a turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread, potato chips (called crisps in New Zealand!), a cookie from a Christchurch gluten-free bakery, plus an apple, kiwi, and a bottle of water. Being able to participate in tours while not having to worry about packing lunch is truly a wonderful thing!

Wanaka

Wanaka is another well-visited location on the South Island, alongside a lake appropriately named Lake Wanaka. It’s quieter than Queenstown yet filled with plenty of beautiful hikes, swimming, and gluten-free food.

There’s an excellent fish and chips place in Wanaka – Erik’s, which is a dedicated gluten-free facility. They have a sister location in Queenstown too! Erik’s also has other delicious fried foods including chicken tenders, sausage, and cauliflower. They are also certified by Coeliac New Zealand.

Craving a good cup of coffee? Try Ritual Espresso Café. They have lattes and various teas that are gluten free and can offer small plates and snacks as well. For a tasty slow food experience, try Big Fig. They have scrumptious vegetables, meats, and other healthy dishes and the vibe is very relaxed. You order what you’d like buffet style, and almost everything is gluten free. After, walk across the street to the lake and have a picnic with a view!

Lavender Fields

If you are lucky to visit New Zealand in the spring or summer, the lavender fields are not to be missed! Located in various areas along the South Island, you can find these beautiful fragrant fields of lavender in bloom in January or February. The smell is heavenly and there are plenty of lavender based products to sample!

At New Zealand Alpine Lavender by Lake Tekapo, they have a small store filled with lotions, creams, and soaps that utilize the fresh lavender, right alongside the enormous fields. They also make lavender-infused ice cream!

The ice cream is made fresh to order and the staff prepares gluten-free orders separately. The lavender mixed berry ice cream is the perfect gluten-free treat on a warm summer day!

No matter where you travel on New Zealand’s South Island, there will be gluten-free friendly establishments, groceries, and products for everyone to enjoy!


Jennifer Fitzpatrick was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2009. She recently spent six months traveling gluten-free around the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram @jefinner589 or her website www.thenomadicfitzpatricks.com.

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