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. Dodson Street Beer Garden

    $$ | New Zealand

    It's not all about wine in Marlborough. Craft beers are a fast-growing trend, and here you get to sample from arguably the largest selection...Read More

  • 2. Beechwoods Cafe

    $$ | Café

    Lots of wholesome breakfast and lunch options, hot snacks, and sweet treats are offered here. Some popular choices include the snapper (fish...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Courthouse Cafe

    $$ | New Zealand

    In the lovely old former Collingwood Courthouse, on the main crossroads into town, this laid-back and popular café makes good use of local produce...Read More

  • 5. DP1 Cafe

    $$ | Café

    Homey hospitality in this colorful, retro-style spot comes with house-cooked breakfasts (scrambled eggs are as good as you'll find anywhere...Read More

  • 6. Freddy's

    $$ | Café

    For a bright and breezy café stop, try this downtown favorite. They serve good coffee and all-day breakfast—their free-range eggs and a West...Read More

  • 7. Jester House Cafe

    $$ | Café

    This funky place is as much fun as the name suggests, and is a great spot to bring the kids. The café is built in an eco-friendly style, echoing...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Pancake Rocks Cafe

    $$ | Café

    Not surprisingly, a pancake stack (edible) is the signature menu item at this busy little café and shop, directly opposite the Pancake Rocks...Read More

  • 10. Red Barn Café

    $$ | Café

    About 10 km (6 miles) north of Murchison this rustic, rural café also has a small farm park with sheep, goats, donkeys, and emus. As cafés go...Read More

  • 11. Rivers Café

    $$ | Café

    Good food and good coffee is served every day in a welcoming, rustic setting. It's hard to find, tucked around a corner, so it's mostly frequented...Read More

  • 12. The Irish Picton

    $$ | Irish

    Even though the menu is all about pizza (good ones) this place definitely has the Irish bar vibe. Irish locals confirm they pour a good Guinness...Read More

  • 13. Toad Hall

    $$ | Café

    At this café, shop, and produce market in a former church, enjoy breakfast (pancakes, salmon rosti, free-range eggs cooked heaps of ways), then...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Yellow House Café

    $$ | Café

    Driving into town from the Buller River, you'll see this restaurant, which has an enclosed sunny back lawn and a bright dining area. It serves...Read More

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