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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 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. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. PortSide Bistro & Bar

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    They’re proud of their signature fish-and-chips on Friday. The fish is delivered straight off the boat, and there’s also a huge range of other...Read More

  • 9. Stations Inn

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    The place that many locals consider to be a special-occasion destination provides visitors with a chance to experience high-quality, classic...Read More

  • 10. The Apple Shed Cafe

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    The Mapua Wharf setting complements the food, and you can watch the boats go by while dining on quality produce, organic where possible, washed...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Boutereys

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Matt Bouterey brings his reputation with him to this relaxed spot in central Richmond. Recognized nationally, this smart restaurant is one of...Read More

  • 13. 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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