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. Hopgoods

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Nationally recognized chef Kevin Hopgood focuses on local produce and regularly wins national restaurant awards for his cooking. Try the Pure...Read More

  • 2. Café Affair

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    This busy city restaurant is a favorite with both locals and travelers looking for a quick-but-substantial meal. Morning options range from...Read More

  • 3. Fords Restaurant & Bar

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Dining here is great throughout the day. Breakfast might be fish with tatties and house-made hollandaise or a carnivore’s mixed grill delight...Read More

  • 4. Harrys

    $$$ | Asian

    Asian cuisine is the focus at this local favorite, with an accent on Thai. Chilli-salt squid served with herb and sprout salad is a popular...Read More

  • 5. Morri Street

    $$ | Eclectic

    With its pleasant outdoor terrace and open indoor spaces, this upbeat café is a favorite with the locals, and has great coffee. Along with a...Read More

  • 6. Penguino's Cafe

    $ | Café

    A cool source for delicious gelato, like Rosemary & White Chocolate, Blueberry & Guava, Earl Grey, Manuka Honey, or a Mango-Lassie sensation...Read More

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