This Easy Hack Will Save You Tons Of Money On Food While Visiting New Zealand

Daily-caught oysters sourced straight from the seabed, citrus fruit plucked from the orchard, and produce so fresh it still has a bit of rainwater dripping off its evergreen leaves — it's hard to find food of a higher quality than this. However, this luxury style of dining doesn't come without a price, and eating out in New Zealand can quickly add up to a startling bill.

To say locals in New Zealand enjoy a diversity of high-quality ingredients is an understatement. This far-flung coastal patch of paradise is rich in farm-fresh fare that's often foraged the same day it's consumed. Simplicity is never overlooked in New Zealand food culture — it's celebrated. The abundance of fresh, seasonal produce that's native to the land naturally translates into an equally exquisite restaurant scene. However, it can be challenging for food lovers to balance tasting new plates while maximizing budgets with this simple planning tip — that is, before First Table made its way onto the scene.

A budget-friendly travel-tack, First Table has been helping tourists experience the local food culture of a nation without breaking the bank. An innovative and ingenious booking platform, First Table is the answer to all of a traveling food lover's problems. Launched in Queenstown, New Zealand, in 2014, this nifty booking platform quickly expanded and now partners with restaurants across multiple nations, including New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom. Diners in these countries can use this clever restaurant tip to save money on dinner while traveling.

Find your next open table

Fueled by the motto, "The Early Bird Gets the Dinner Deal," First Table allows guests to receive a 50% discount at local restaurants near them. Founded by Kiwi local Mat Weir, First Table is designed to act as both a foodie's best friend and the restaurant entrepreneur's ultimate marketing method. With over 1,700 participating restaurants on the First Table app, guests can select the eatery of their choice and book the first open table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Diners who book using First Table will receive half off all food for parties of two, three, or four. 

Despite the small booking fee that ranges from $8 to $15, it's a creative method that allows locals and tourists to taste their way through a city's restaurant scene on a budget. With no minimum payment required, guests can eat (or not eat) to their heart's content! While diners can make a reservation more than once at the same restaurant, the reservations cannot be made at the same restaurant twice in a row to encourage sampling new eateries. 

Even late-night owls can benefit from the booking platform's Last Table feature that displays the last available table at local restaurants. Diners receive the same benefits as First Table guests, with the exception of booking the restaurant's remaining table. However, First Table is currently only offering the Last Table feature in select cities across New Zealand, but the company is hoping to extend it across the nation and beyond!

Eat your way through New Zealand's first tables

First Table is serious about its guests' dining experiences, partnering with some of New Zealand's brightest culinary stars. Paris Butter is just one of many fine-dining establishments that put Auckland's dining scene on the map. Making headlines in acclaimed reviews, this eclectic eatery blends the best of French and New Zealand cuisine. Its seven-course menu is a five-star experience driven by the seasons. As its name suggests, butter is the star of the show, putting a fancy spin on the basic butter dish with everything from miso caramel to honey mustard. 

Rooted in authentic Filipino fare, Bar Magda sets the bar high with charcoal steak and scallions, house bread with parmesan custard, and tender lamb ribs with a vibrant garnish of seasonal herbs. Dim lighting creates a moody atmosphere. This contrasts with the bright lights and waterfront scene of Auckland City Center. 

Pan-fried quail hearts may not sound like the most tantalizing starter, but don't disqualify these crispy, flavor-filled morsels until you've tried the ones from Cazador. This award-winning restaurant has made a name for itself as a sustainable culinary institution and one of New Zealand's most memorable restaurants. According to First Table, The Feast is nonnegotiable, starting with tasters, including house-cured charcuterie. The elevated snack board is followed by larger tastings, like their Fiordland Wapiti Venison and an indulgent chocolate dessert to conclude a meal well savored.