Upper South Island and the West Coast Restaurants

In Marlborough visit a winery restaurant—there's no better way to ensure that your meal suits what you're drinking. Cloudy Bay clams are harvested here, salmon and Greenshell mussels are farmed in the Marlborough Sounds, and local crops—besides grapes—include cherries and garlic. In Kaikoura try crayfish. The region is named after this delicacy (In Māori, kai means "food" and koura means "lobster"). Nelson is also famous for seafood, in particular scallops, and for fresh produce and, yes, for wine. On the West Coast, try the local delicacy whitebait fritters—a sort of omelet filled with the whitebait—tiny, young eel-like fish netted at river mouths as they migrate upstream in late spring.

Some restaurants in more remote tourist regions close in winter (June through August); others may curtail their hours. In summer, all doors are open and it's best to make reservations. If a restaurant is open on a major holiday, it may add a surcharge to your bill.

Year-round, the restaurants and cafés around the glaciers and other remote spots can be quick to close their doors at night. Arrive by 8:30 (it's sometimes even earlier in winter) or you might go hungry. Some of the smallest towns, including Punakaiki, settlements in the Marlborough Sounds, and parts of Golden Bay, have few cafés and no general stores, so bring your own supplies.

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  • 1. Dodson Street Beer Garden

    $$ | New Zealand

    It's not all about wine in Marlborough. Craft beers are a fast-growing trend, and here you get to sample from arguably the largest selection...Read More

  • 2. Herzog

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    One of Marlborough's finest dining experiences is found at the Hans Herzog Estate, tucked away along a short side road leading down to the Wairau...Read More

  • 3. Arbour

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    This friendly place suggests you stop in for a small taste and a drink before catching your flight at the airport down the road. If you do,...Read More

  • 4. Cafe Home

    $ | Café

    Pop in for brunch, coffee, or lunch. The breakfast menu runs all day on the weekends, with options like hotcakes or toasted cranberry and orange...Read More

  • 5. Raupo

    $$$ | New Zealand

    An imposing structure of glass, wood, and river stone sits beautifully on a small bend in the Taylor River, and is named for the nearby bulrushes...Read More

  • 6. Scotch Wine Bar

    $$$ | Eclectic

    If you want a break from winery restaurants, this contemporary black-booth and brick-decor main street favorite should fit the bill—there's...Read More

  • 7. The Vintners Room

    $$$ | New Zealand

    Toward the inland end of the Rapaura Road winery strip, this Sante Fe–style building that's part of the Marlborough Vintners Hotel is a good...Read More

  • 8. Gibbs Vineyard Restaurant

    $$$ | Rapaura | Mediterranean

    Currently enjoying the reputation of being one of the places to eat around Blenheim, this rustic indoor-outdoor restaurant is edged by potted...Read More

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