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. Blue Ice Café

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    The decor isn't amazing, however the two levels here can carry you from an early dinner through the wee hours. Go downstairs for a fine meal...Read More

  • 2. Café Neve

    $$$ | New Zealand

    This standout along Fox Glacier's main street sparks up no-nonsense options with fresh local flavors, such as the pizza topped with locally...Read More

  • 3. Matheson Cafe

    $$$$ | Café

    The food at this all-day café is decent if predictable (a huge breakfast menu, burgers at lunch, beef rib eye, and lamb cutlets for dinner)...Read More

  • 4. The Alice May

    $$$ | New Zealand

    One of those cozy, buzzing places so prevalent on the West Coast serves country fare that is good and plentiful, with a welcome range of light...Read More

  • 5. Beeches

    $$$ | New Zealand

    This place fills a gap in the glaciers' evening dining scene with its strong emphasis on local foods. The whitebait fritters are a mainstay...Read More

  • 6. Bellafico Restaurant & Wine Bar

    $$$ | Eclectic

    The number of full-house nights testifies to the high standards here. The kitchen serves wild pork and venison whenever it can get it, and if...Read More

  • 7. Living Room Café and Lounge Bar

    $$ | New Zealand

    The sunny corner location in the heart of Blenheim's shopping area means this café never lacks for action. Surrounded by glass on two sides...Read More

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