Food in New Zealand is pretty similar to food in the US. However, prices are higher.
Cafes in New Zealand mainly involve ordering your food at the counter and paying at the beginning. You will be given a table number and your food will be bought to your table but you don’t need to tip.
You can usually get good coffee at cafe in New Zealand, especially the famous “flat white” which is similar to a latte. It’s a coffee with lots of milk. New Zealanders love them and always complain when they move overseas can can’t find a good flat white.
Cafes in cities usually have fresh, healthy food like paninis, salads, other types of sandwiches, and slices or cakes for dessert (e.g. chocolate slice).
Cafes in small towns or near highways will tend to have “hot chips” (chunky fries), lamingtons (Chocolate or Strawberry sponge cake coated in coconut and filled with fresh cream), cream buns (bread rolls filled with cream) and other less than healthy fare! Increasingly you’re able to get higher quality food at cafes in small towns.
Scones in New Zealand are British style except are served with fresh cream rather than clotted cream. They’re very good. Lamingtons are also good when they are fresh. If you see them at a bakery where they will be fresh that day, try them.
In restaurants in New Zealand, most of the time, you will make a reservation, get seated on arrival, then your server will take your order at your table, just like in the US. They may bring the check without you asking for it. Don’t worry that this means they’re trying to hurry you, it doesn’t. Again, it is not expected that you will tip, but you have this option if you are very happy with the quality of the food and service.
Restaurants will typically serve a variety of dishes, including at least one or two vegetarian options. The fare will usually include New Zealand beef, lamb, or seafood, as well as things like pizza and nachos are less formal places.
There are lots of Asian Restaurants, especially Thai and Korean.
Fast casual chains similar to Chipotle in the US are not found in New Zealand to the same extent. More common would be for people to have a souvlaki (pita filled with meat, salad, and yogurt sauce). New Zealand does have Subway.
Grocery stores carry a similar range of products to those in the US. For example, you can easily pick up hummus, pre-washed salad, salad dressings, cheeses, and anything you might want for a picnic. Most supermarkets will have an in-store bakery. The deli section will be your best bet for prepared foods. The New World chain of supermarkets tends to be slightly more upscale than some of the other chains like Pak’nSave and Countdown. Pak’nSave is probably the cheapest but has fewer gourmet options.
New Zealand’s main chocolate brands are Cadbury and Whittakars. Whittakers and really good. Cadbury chocolate in New Zealand is better than it’s counterpart in the US for some reason. Try “Jaffas” which are spheres of dark chocolate coated in an orange candy shell. People love to eat Jaffas at the movies because you can throw them at anyone who talks in the movie or teenagers making out!