Every year is identified by its own trends and 2016 will be no different. From burned veges to chickens to cuddle; from coffee with tonic to virtual reality gaming headsets, Suzanne McFadden takes a look at what we can expect to see, use, wear, drive, drink and eat this year.


Burned. Not exactly a word we're delighted to read on a menu, but it's firing up as a foodie buzzword in 2016.

Charred vegetables are featuring in both fashionable eateries and backyards this summer; some upmarket chefs even reducing food to ash to add smoky, bitter flavours.

Burned veges aren't just your predictable blackened capsicum or eggplant - think more heavily grilled carrots, beetroot, cauliflower and kale. Simon Farrell-Green, editor of Auckland food guide Eat Here Now, recently experienced charred cos lettuce, grilled quickly over a very high heat.

The famous burnt eggplant dish called Bubba from Beirut. Photo / Dean Purcell
The famous burnt eggplant dish called Bubba from Beirut. Photo / Dean Purcell

"It's crunchy and good," was his verdict.


Meat seared super-fast is also popular this summer, but it's not always the premium cuts of meat we're used to. The "use-it-all" movement encourages unwanted butcher's cuts usually destined for the mincer - flank and hanger steaks, and tri-tip (found at the bottom of the sirloin) - be marinated and grilled, or slow-cooked over charcoal.

Farrell-Green sees a greater environmental consciousness around what we're eating: "With fish, we're leaving the skin on and using the bones for stock - not wasting a thing." Chefs are adopting the root-to-stalk mindset - take a carrot and use the top and skins, instead of sending them to the compost heap.

Middle Eastern, North African and Southeast Asian flavours are predicted to intensify this year. "People are wanting to eat casually," Farrell-Green says. "Shared plates, big salads and piles of food for families to share."

But he expects the millennials' obsession with "trash eating" - cravings for burgers, ribs and deep fried chicken - to grow too.


A Brazilian cocktail, a Spanish white, Italian bubbles, American haymakers' punch and a fermented tea made from bacteria are the trending tipples of 2016.

The zesty, briny Albarino is the hottest new wine on Kiwi tables. The Old World white traditionally grown in north-west Spain and Portugal is a relative newcomer to New Zealand vineyards - putting down roots in Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough. The Waimea Albarino won Champion Other Wine at last year's Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

In sparkling wine, the Italian Prosecco is becoming "quite the groovy thing to drink", Canvas wine expert Yvonne Lorkin says, "thanks in part to importers taking advantage of good exchange rates to bring in some excellent, really affordable examples". With a lower alcohol content than standard bubbly, Prosecco is forging a reputation as a lighter, more socially acceptable daytime drink.

Craft beers continue to grow in stature, with sour beer making its mark. Toasting the Rio Olympics will be the Caipirinha cocktail, made from Brazil's national liquor cachaca (distilled sugarcane juice).

Look out for Kombucha to pack a bigger punch this year. The fizzy fermented tonic is made from sugar, tea and the delicious-sounding scoby (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) and is full of probiotics.

Cold drip coffee served on ice with tonic from Weirdough and Tuck. Photo / Dean Purcell
Cold drip coffee served on ice with tonic from Weirdough and Tuck. Photo / Dean Purcell

Hipsters are making their own switchel - a tart concoction of apple cider vinegar, ginger and sweetener, like maple syrup - famous for quenching the thirst of American haymakers in the 1800s. Also on the hip list is a cold-brew tonic - trendy cold-drip coffee served on ice with a generous splash of tonic water.


Pleats, plants, pendant lights and soft pink will be hot indoors this year.

Bringing the outdoors in is a theme that's growing profusely - from indoor plants breathing life into small apartments, to outdoor furniture making a statement inside. Even nature's hues - soft greens blues and rose quartz - are expected to be the cool colours for 2016.

"People are busy working in office buildings, so their homes are their sanctuaries. They want to get close to nature," says Michelle Backhouse of Backhouse Interiors.

Rich, dark woods like walnut, marble and concrete - especially in geometric tiles - will be popular natural materials.

It has a lot to do with a strong desire for sustainability; buyers wanting to know the back story of furniture and materials. "We make what we call 'slow' furniture, pieces that you will have for a lifetime, that hold the memories of generations," Backhouse says. Vintage and upcycling is big with millennials too.

Minimalism is on its way out, as luxury embellishments - silk, tapestry and pleated fabrics - return. Metallics are "the jewellery" of the home, especially copper, bronze and rose gold - in wallpaper, furniture accents, statement pendant lights and even bathtubs.

This year's colour palette has been softened from last year's bold navy, sapphire and marsala. Backhouse predicts olive green will make an impact, alongside soft greys.

Pantone have blended two colours for their annual Colour of the Year - the "warm, embracing" rose quartz with "serenity", a cool tranquil blue.

Very zen.


The virtual world is about to further embrace our minds, with a swarm of virtual reality headsets hitting the market this year.

A flop at its first appearance in the 1990s, a new generation of futuristic-looking goggles have been eagerly awaited by gamers.

New York Jets fan Cory Teplitz watches a virtual reality video. Photo / AP
New York Jets fan Cory Teplitz watches a virtual reality video. Photo / AP

The "total immersion" technology - where your head movements are tracked in a make-believe 3D world - is about to be released in VR headsets like Oculus Rift (owned by Facebook), Sony Playstation VR and HTC's Vive.

The Internet of Things will also be big in 2016, predicts Peter Griffin, manager of New Zealand's Science Media Centre. Never heard of it? The Internet of Things describes the control of everyday items - like door locks, wireless thermostats and cameras - via your smartphone wherever you are in the world. Dyson's new 360 Eye robotic vacuum cleaner will update your phone with maps of its cleaning progress.

"It hasn't really taken off in New Zealand yet, but the technology will get that much better this year," Griffin says.

Ultra-high definition, or 4K TV, will become mainstream for new televisions this year, but it could still be a while before New Zealand broadcasters switch to content with more vivid colours and a picture quality four times better than standard high-definition.

With young internet users spending more time socialising online, Griffin foresees messaging apps challenging the big social networks of Facebook and Twitter.

While 3D printing is moving into food - spitting out custom chocolate bars, pasta and pizza - it's still very much an enthusiast's niche.


The cuddling chicken and fighting fish will be popular this year. A growing brood of urban farmers are adopting chickens as pets with added benefits - not only are they a source of free-range eggs and rich garden fertiliser, but they're also great stress-relievers.

You can train and acclimatise chickens to being handled and they'll give back a lot of love.
You can train and acclimatise chickens to being handled and they'll give back a lot of love.

Jacqui Baigent, Animates' national manager of brands and partnerships, says "feather babies" have a lot going for them. "Chickens have amazing personalities. You can train and acclimatise them to being handled and they'll give back a lot of love."

Hugging a chook, or just watching it scrabble around in the backyard, is apparently a great therapy for stress. And they pay their own way - rewarding you with eggs after eating your kitchen scraps.

If you want to take your pets to work, you'd be better off with a betta fish. Formerly known as Siamese fighting fish, the flamboyant betta is best kept solo - or they will fight to the death. Everyone in Baigent's office has one in a compact nano aquarium on their desk.

A betta fish will fight to the death - best to keep one in a compact nano aquarium on your desk.
A betta fish will fight to the death - best to keep one in a compact nano aquarium on your desk.

Also trending is seasonal fashion for cats and dogs: sunglasses and visors for summer; puffer jackets for winter; high-vis vests for the active dog; and tutus, bow ties and Halloween costumes for the festive pet.

Toys and games

Forget tablets, drones and hoverboards. Oldies but goodies from the magical world of toys are making a big comeback, stirring the nostalgia of mums and dads, but keeping kids engrossed with high-tech rejuvenations.

Meccano - that industrial mass of metal, nuts and bolts inspiring young engineers since 1901 - is back under the new guise of a walking, talking robot. Build the MeccaNoid G15 KS, and he'll tell you jokes and remember your birthday.

With the return of the Thunderbirds to TV screens (with the help of Weta Workshop and Pukeko Pictures), the secret headquarters on Tracy Island has had a smart-technology makeover with a multitude of flashing lights and (possibly annoying) sounds.

Remember visiting Disneyland through the 3-D picture reels of View-master stereoscopes? They've now been transformed into virtual reality headsets.

And the 90s plush pet phenomenon of Puppy Surprise has been reborn - with a computer algorithm making sure some litters even have a runt.

LEGO is still all the rage and is holding its ground as Star Wars has recently been released.
LEGO is still all the rage and is holding its ground as Star Wars has recently been released.

Lego is perpetually popular, but Toyworld manager Repeka Clubb says it's becoming even more coveted with the new range of complex-looking starships and fighters from the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

In the virtual world, futuristic shooting scenarios still rule computer games. Among the eagerly awaited new releases for 2016 are Battleborn, with shooting heroes protecting the universe's last star; Horizon Zero Dawn, where a heroine archer fights off robot-dinosaurs; and Tom Clancy's The Division, where New York City has been obliterated by a deadly virus.


The longing for convenience in food and technology is also reflecting in what we wear. Josie Hazeldine, fashion buyer for Superette, says designers are noticing people wanting quick and easy pieces to take them from day to night.

"The fabric of choice in particular seems to be crepe - soft enough to wear with denim but structured enough to dress up for the evening," she says. "Chiffon will also become your best friend."

The lightweight sheer chiffon, traditionally an evening fabric, is evolving with vintage florals and metallics woven through.

There's a definite tip of the crocheted hat to the nostalgic 70s this coming autumn, with fringes, flares, fur and suede. Flared sleeves and lace-up neck lines are projected to flow throughout the seasons of 2016.

Fringing is not just on clothing, but also on your feet, with tassels on suede espadrilles and leather ankle biker boots.

On the colour front, block black and whites are making a strong statement. "Some labels are only selling in these tones, making it easy to slip into your wardrobe creating an everyday core item," Hazeldine says.

And khaki is still cool, fashion retailers say. The global trends for men seen at international fashion weeks point to burgundy and brown being big, as will be short shorts, long scarves, bomber jackets and 1950s bowling shirts.

Active wear

If you're affronted by those who shop and brunch in their active wear without raising a bead of sweat, be prepared to be even more offended by the latest flood of racerback crop-tops and see-through yoga pants.

Two years after Nike CEO Mark Parker declared "leggings are the new denim", sports luxe tights and slouchy marl sweatshirts are still de rigueur for those who have embraced comfortable casual as the new chic.

And the global fashion movement also known as "athleisure" is becoming even more designer-led, with sportswear brands locking in collaborations with the stylish and famous. Designers Alexander Wang, Kate Spade and Stella McCartney create active wear ranges, while Beyonce, Rihanna, Kate Hudson and Kanye West have put their names on sophisticated work-out uniforms.

The metallic hot-pink leggings, puffer vests and shimmering sports bras aren't just about looking good. They're made from the latest in antimicrobial and sweat-wicking fabrics, in case anyone wants to wear them for exercise.

Rebel Sport womenswear buyer Steve Collins says tops will be longer, sometimes with back panels, and so will tights. Both prints and bold colours will feature in a layered look of crop-tops, oversized boxy tank-tops and T-shirts.


The strongest trend in keeping fit isn't what you do, but what you're doing it in.

The American College of Sports Medicine, in their annual worldwide survey of fitness trends, forecasts wearable technology will be the biggest craze in 2016, overthrowing body weight training and high-intensity interval training.

Yoga continues to contort itself into the top 10 exercise trends, but Zumba and Pilates are apparently slipping quietly out the gym back door. Boot camps are also fading fast.

Wearable technology is activity trackers, smart watches, heart-rate monitors and GPS tracking devices.

In these times of being time-poor, exercisers want to be in control of when they work out and can get instant motivation from an app on their arm. The worldwide wearables market is forecast to hit US$19 billion ($28 billion) by 2018.

Gus Lam and Ami Kelly wearing a Garmin Vivofit wristband, which collects exercise data. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Gus Lam and Ami Kelly wearing a Garmin Vivofit wristband, which collects exercise data. Photo / Jason Oxenham

New Zealand entrepreneurs have jumped on the fitness wagon with some nifty
technology that computes athletes' movements. StretchSense, winner at the Wearable Technologies Innovation World Cup last year, created fabric sensors that can be integrated into clothing; while I Measure U sensors feed back data on the impact on runners' knees and a swimmer's stroke efficiency.


Liz Dobson, Driven editor

When it comes to Kiwis and their cars for 2016, think big and think tough with a continuing love affair for SUVs of all sizes and the must-have vehicle, the Ford Ranger.

Not only was the Ranger the top-selling ute in New Zealand in 2015, but also the most popular new vehicle, while Toyota's all-new Hilux ute was launched in November and is gaining traction with buyers.

While it may be the year of the ute, don't think that it means gumboot and Swanndri-clad owners driving around the farm with a sheepdog in the back tray. Instead, the utility owners of 2016 are more likely to be found in inner city suburbs with a stand-up paddle board in the back.

The Motor Trade Association's Tony Everett says the ute is "increasingly being seen as an everyday option for consumers".

"Are utes a flash in the pan? No, I don't think so, and remember 'trucks', as they're called in the USA, have been the market leaders over there for many years," he says.

The SUV segment will also remain strong, with it claiming 34 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2015 thanks to a large array of sizes to cater for buyers: from compact crossovers such as Driven's car of the year, the Mazda CX-3, to Volvo's XC90 and the popular Q7 from Audi.

The one vehicle that at least 600 Kiwis are eagerly anticipating having sitting in their driveway this year is the Ford Mustang. The iconic American sports car is now being manufactured in right-hand-drive and the first shipment from the company's Michigan assembly plant has arrived in New Zealand.

Ford New Zealand's managing director, Corey Holter, had daily phone calls for weeks from customers wanting to know if their car was on the production line and the expected delivery time of the $57,880-plus Mustang.

But for Kiwis with a little bit more cash to spend there are some luxury vehicles to tempt them, starting with Rolls-Royce's convertible, the Dawn. Launched at the Frankfurt motor show, the stunning Dawn is priced from $669,000 and is on sale from March.

Another luxury convertible going on sale here is the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder, also launched at Frankfurt. It's priced from $475,000 and also goes on sale in March.