The country's favourite takeaway is so much a part of the Kiwi character that it could be called psyche 'n' chips. Books written, songs and poems too. Academic papers on its history and pronunciation. Art – Robin White's print of the Maketū shack is perhaps best-known.
We've been called "the passionless people" but this dish has caused more family ructions than whether Beauden or Richie should be the first-choice first-five, and you know someone's losing a bar-leaner argument when the harshest thing they can say about the Prime Minister is that she used to work in a fish 'n' chip shop.
Even Brits, who fondly believe they came up with the idea, admit we make the planet's best - and we're the only people who pronounce it properly.
We've asked Herald readers to nominate favourite campgrounds, fish 'n' chip shops, playgrounds, beach walks and icecream stores for our Best of Summer 2022 poll. We'll profile them this week, beginning with your best-loved fish 'n' chipperies. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the simple voting form.
Bobby's Fresh Fish Market
1 Dive Crescent, Tauranga
The "waterfront" is important because the chain has three outlets. But the shop by the wharf is regularly rated one of the city's top takeaways because that's where the catch is landed. One visiting Pom (in the days when we had international visitors) 'fessed up: "Superb batter and fluffy chips, all cooked in beef dripping, as they should be, but lies easy on the stomach." Eat yours on wharf tables in the sea breeze with hopeful seagulls gawking and squawking. Is there a downside? Only that it's so popular you might have a wee wait.
Gibson Quay, Hokitika
Gourmets associate the West Coast with culinary delights like huhu grubs and wild foods but we're not here to talk about the flash stuff. This was the birthplace of Kiwi f&c, and where better to taste kaimoana than hunched on a wave-lashed shore or chowing down on a whitebait fritter in a Greymouth pub? Dulcie's in Hokitika is the local favourite for fish – crumbed hoki or blue cod as well as the more usual suspects – and a sizeable scoop of spud or kumara chips. Take the parcel to Sunset Point, barely five minutes' walk, to breathe in the scent, sights and true taste of the coast.
40 Marsden Road, Paihia
Louise and Chester Rendell bought the motel and tea house in 1983. It took about six weeks to work out there was no money in "scones, jam and cream"; they hung several signs above the door before settling on JFC (work that out yourself) in 2019. Produce is sourced from the Bay of Islands first, then Northland and, oh, elsewhere in Aotearoa if absolutely necessary; chips and some sauces are handmade here. It's a full-on restaurant: you can dine in, sip a craft beer or wine, even a cocktail, and kick back with live music on some nights.
7 Ayr St, Oban, Stewart Island
Gotta be the southernmost fish 'n' chip joint on the planet, unless someone's frying up something in Antarctica that TripAdvisor hasn't heard about yet. Near the stunning almost-new Rakiura Museum and the school, the blue Kai Kart caravan is not so much an eatery as a local cult. Blue cod from these waters is an encounter with the sublime (and somewhat easier to catch, they practically jump on the hook); eat yours inside, at outdoor picnic tables or take them to the beach. That's quite a hike – it's almost a minute's walk away, depending on traffic.
Mangonui Fish Shop
Mangonui Wharf, Northland
World-famous not only in New Zealand (we won't repeat the chip about international visitors), the store has traded fresh fish on this site 100m from the wharf where the catch is landed since the 1950s. It's on stilts over the water so you can watch stingrays, john dory, kingfish and more swimming under the shop while the filleters and cooks are tending to their cousins … moving right along. The owners have rights for sustainable line-caught species such as bluenose, hāpuku, snapper, tarakihi, gurnard; you can choose your own fillet. As they say, "The only way to get fresher fish is to catch it yourself."
Market Galley, Auckland Fish Market
22-32 Jellicoe St, Wynyard Quarter
It's been a seafood-gathering area for centuries and the market has operated for almost 120 years. When Sanfords fishing company relaunched its premises in chi-chi Wynyard Quarter a couple of years back, they wanted to encourage visitors to try fish other than (yawn) snapper, tarakihi, salmon, gurnard, hoki and promote sustainable consumption. Much of the catch arrives on nearby Halsey Wharf; market vendors advise on preparing and cooking or serve seafood-driven menus in the vast dining area. You could eat Pacific-inspired poke, wood-fired pizza, even Peruvian-Japanese. But you're not in Kansas, Toto; Kiwi kaimoana at the Market Galley has to be the go.
Ōpunake Fish, Chips and More
61 Tasman St, Ōpunake, Taranaki
If you think you've done it tough over the last couple of years, read on. Gillbanks Fish Shop began life on the South Taranaki town's main street in the 1960s, famous for hand-cut chips, fish options and smiling staff. It became Ōpunake Fish, Chips & More in 2015 and was burned down in 2018. Owner Alison Hayward cooked from a kitchen in a trailer to feed crowds riding the SH45 Surf Highway. We all know what happened to hospitality in the next few months but the iconic (seriously, it deserves that word) store re-opened in September 2019 to acclaim such as Lonely Planet's "This is as good as fish and chips get".
Allen Berry Ave-Bill Hercock St, Napier
We could get picky and ask, what is a fish 'n' chip shop? In the past decade, most have expanded their offerings beyond the traditional - one of our top 10 offers poutine, is that kosher? - and this Hawke's Bay fave is technically "Pirimai Chippy and Serious Burgers" with 26 grilled things in toasted buns on the menu. But they are known for fresh fish in a light crispy batter and chips the locals rave about, and a perennial winner in national awards for shark 'n' taties diners. Which is more than enough to claim their spot on this list as "the Napier fish and chip shop with an edge".
Raglan Fish Shop
Raglan Wharf, Waikato
Right on the water, at the tip of the town's working wharf. Burned to a crisp in 2010, the wharf has been rebuilt with cafes, shops and apartments ingeniously crafted from old cement silos. Dine-in or takeaway customers get free views of the harbour, fishing, pleasure and Coast Guard boats, maybe a couple of seals, with their scallops, mussels, snapper and more. Be aware that portions are huge. Who's complaining?
Skillet & Fillet
Shop 16, 280 Mahurangi East Shopping Centre, Snells Beach
Which hands-down gets our vote for the best name on the list. Snells Beach might not be as well-known as some venues above, so a quick geography lesson: it's 8km east of Warkworth on Mahurangi Peninsula. The 2.5km tidal, safe and sandy beach faces Kawau Island; Matakana's markets, boutiques, food and wineries are close. Exhausted from those activities, a chilled local beverage, a beach and this regular's recommendation: "The fish is always fresh, the kumara and spud chips are delish and good value. Non-greasy, fresh and tasty classic f&c, the owners are friendly and the shop is clean and tidy". What more can you ask for? Well, perhaps an Instagram post from Auckland food influencer Albert Cho, aka Eat Lit Food, who once raved about the store's deep-fried Mars bars to his more than 65,000 followers.