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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Pelorus Bridge Café

    $ | Café

    One of the better on-the-road cafés in the area (actually one of the few) serves great breakfasts and wholesome, homemade lunches to both passersby...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Wholemeal Cafe

    $ | Café

    Set in the old Takaka theater, this place is synonymous with the alternative, funky vibe that is Golden Bay. The decor and menu have evolved...Read More

  • 6. 124 on Mackay

    $ | Café

    There's a light bistro menu as well as cabinet food like panini, quiche, and café-style baked goods; it's open most days. ...Read More

  • 7. Dirty Mary's Café and Bar

    $ | Café

    Right in the main street, this roomy spot has a casual daytime and dinner café and late-night bar. The adjoining pub gives it an upbeat environment...Read More

  • 8. Riverview Café

    $ | Café

    For the best environment, try this little spot on the northern edge of town. It fronts the river below the Riverview Motor Camp and is a nice...Read More

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