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. Hislops Café

    $$$ | Café

    This wholesome foodie café is a local institution, a few minutes' walk north of town and worth the trip. In the morning you'll find tasty free...Read More

  • 2. Café Encounter

    $$ | Café

    Here's a bright eatery along the Esplanade, sharing space with the Dolphin and Albatross Encounter operations and a pleasant gallery/shop. The...Read More

  • 3. Mainline Station Cafe

    $ | Café

    When traveling between Christchurch and Kaikoura, this café at Domett stands out among the slim eating options along the way. Built in the 100...Read More

  • 4. The Pier Hotel

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    In a two-story Victorian waterfront hotel overlooking Ingles Bay, one of Kaikoura's most dependable eateries serves traditional New Zealand...Read More

  • 5. The Store at Kekerengu

    $$$ | Café

    This big, indoor/outdoor café/restaurant overlooking a rolling surf beach on State Highway 1 makes one of the best road stops in the area, well...Read More

  • 6. White Morph Restaurant

    $$$$ | Seafood

    Crayfish is always on the menu at this elegant eatery, and here they serve it very simply with a potato mash, or as a complement to their Aotearoa...Read More

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