The Gables, Russell
Ayrburn, Queenstown
Picnicka, Tauranga
Zephyr, Gisborne
Charlotte’s Kitchen, Paihia

Escaping the city for the long weekend? We round up the best eateries up and down the country

One of the best parts of traversing the country is sampling the amazing eateries New Zealand has to offer and, luckily for us, we’re spoiled for choice when we step outside our usual culinary stomping grounds. For your gastronomic pleasure, we have compiled a mouth-watering selection of the best cafes and restaurants, from Paihia to Dunedin, and several stops in between. Be sure to check the opening hours before you make a pit stop — especially as holiday hours come into play.

The Best Of
Northland
Left: Charlotte’s Kitchen, Paihia. Right: The Gables, Russell

The Gables

Location: Russell


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The iconic Gables in Russell has been refurbished and rebranded. The Heritage-listed building (Built 1847) is now operating as The Gables Osteria & Enoteca, serving freshly made pasta and approachable Italian fare alongside Northland & Italian wines. The Gables is where old-world elegance collides with the warm, welcoming ambience of a casual osteria, and is a must-try if you’re heading up North this summer.

Hone’s Garden

Location: Russell

No matter the season, a woodfired pizza and a couple of beers at Hone’s Garden always hits the spot. Located in the heart of Russell, we recommend exploring the charming town by foot, then parking up at a picnic table where you’ll be well taken care of.

Charlotte’s Kitchen

Location: Paihia

With unparalleled waterfront vistas, an assortment of delicious sharing plates, and an impressive cocktail menu featuring the all-important expertly-made Negroni, this charming addition to the far North has become a regular stop on any discerning road-tripping itinerary.

Local Talent Taverna

Location: Whangārei

Having just opened this March, Local Talent Taverna beckons visitors with its unpretentious charm and a menu brimming with Mediterranean flavours. In this unassuming space, Matt Hawkes (of Wellington’s cult-favourite Mason) captures the essence of Northland’s local produce, with a distinctly European flair.

McLeod’s Pizza Barn

Location: Waipu

Sampling the tasty lineup of brews at McLeod’s Pizza Barn is crucial to any traveller, and so is getting stuck into its pizza. There’s a laundry list of tasty options to try, from classics like the Margherita with basil pesto, tomato and a double helping of mozzarella to more creative flourishes like the Workhorse with salami, pepperoni, artichoke, gherkin and olive tapenade.

The Best Of
Bay of Plenty & Coromandel
Left: Picnicka, Tauranga Right: Flatwhite Cafe, Waihi

Flatwhite Cafe

Location: Waihi

This Shaw Road destination is so much more than just a perfect coffee refuelling stop, set to the sounds of the rolling surf. While the fish and chips are truly excellent, the Kai Moana pizza with mussels, fresh fish, calamari, lemon pepper and aioli is unbeatable and best devoured with feet firmly planted in the sand. Add it to your bucket list.

Camina

Location: Whangamatā

Embracing the tradition of gathering and eating around a communal fire, Camina harnesses the ancient cooking style to craft delicious fare perfect for sharing. With a menu that celebrates local produce, an incredibly friendly group of staff and an impressive drinks list that heroes locally-brewed beer, New Zealand wines and gin cocktails, this is one spot you don’t want to skip.

Luke’s Kitchen

Location: Kuaotunu

This eatery in Kuaotunu, Whitianga, is the ultimate laid-back destination adored by holiday-goers from all parts of the Coromandel. Admire the million-dollar view as you enjoy craft beers and devour smoky wood-fired pizzas. Destinations like this are a reminder that some humble restaurants are legacy for good reason.

Picnicka

Location: Tauranga

Found in Central Tauranga, but still only a stone’s throw from the famed beaches of Mount Maunganui, Picnicka is a new-ish (opened mid-last year) Denizen favourite in this neck of the woods. Weekend brunches here are some of the most enticing in the region, and come dinner time, the impressive woodfire makes its mark on the menu, offering a truly memorable experience for all.

Breadhead

Location: Tauranga

Breadhead, the bakery born out of Love Rosie Bakery, has recently expanded from a small shop into a charming cafe, offering a space for customers to savour their heavenly bread and pastries. With Brent Beamish’s self-taught baking skills at the forefront, Breadhead is enticing with its array of treats, including miso tahini sourdough, fluffy pastries and doughy-soft sandwiches, all crafted with a commitment to quality ingredients and attention to detail.

The Best Of
Waiheke Island
Left: Tantalus, Waiheke. Right: Mudbrick, Waiheke

Tantalus

Location: Waiheke Island

Tantalus has been loved for its inventive food, award-winning wines and stunning location ever since opening its impeccable new space (the work of Cheshire Architects) in Onetangi Valley. Even the approach from the driveway is enough to take our breath away — and it only gets better from there. Given the estate’s popularity, bookings are absolutely recommended.

The Heke

Location: Waiheke Island

As the new kid on the block, The Heke is a must-visit destination in Onetangi — home to a wood-fired restaurant as well as the award-winning Waiheke Whisky and Waiheke Brewing Co. Owned by two Waiheke families, who have created a welcoming feel, you can park up at one of the many outdoor tables, watch the kids bounce around on its jumbo bouncing pillow and have a thoroughly lovely afternoon.

Charlie’s

Location: Waiheke Island

Nowadays, Onetangi is a world-class culinary destination with a line-up of sophisticated eateries with sweeping views of its beautiful beach. But before all this, there was Charlie Farley’s, a laid back restaurant and bar that locals and visitors alike kept coming back to. After a recent refurbishment, and the new moniker of Charlie’s, this Tropicana-inspired eatery sets the scene for an array of crowd-pleasing dishes. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and complemented by suitable cocktails all day long — Charlie’s is holding its own among the newcomers.

Waiheke Distilling Co.

Location: Waiheke Island

On the ridge above Cowes Bay, Waiheke Distilling Co. has unrivalled views of the ‘other side’ of the Island, looking out to Pakatoa Island and the Coromandel beyond. The artisan gin producer led by Liz Scott and Glen Cadwallader champions the local botanicals that grow in abundance in the area, while also allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. Not only the birthplace of brand new gins, but home to a stunning garden bar as well, they deserve to pour themselves a drink — for a job well done.

Man O’ War

Location: Waiheke Island

On the far Eastern side of the Island, Man O’ War is a complete slice of paradise. It’s where you will find 75 of Waiheke’s 100 vineyards. At the start of it all, the winery’s exquisite beachfront Tasting Room spills out onto a lawn where long lunches can be indulged in, before a stroll along the tranquil Man O’ War Bay. With covered and outdoor park bench seating, and plenty of room for little ones and pets, you can get that picnic feeling all year round.

Mudbrick

Location: Waiheke Island

The most romantic spot on the Island, in our opinion, Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant is a charming estate to while away the hours on Waiheke. The Restaurant offers a sensory culinary experience while its modern bistro, the Archive, serves island-inspired dishes in a relaxed setting. With an outdoor bar and charming private dining rooms also available to book, Mudbrick sparkles as much as its view of the Hauraki Gulf.

Casita Miro

Location: Waiheke Island

A little bit off the beaten beach track, Casita Miro is found in the frondescence of the Miro Vineyard. Set back from Onetangi Bay with views to the township and sea, Casita Miro is a Spanish-inspired tapas restaurant that appears more like a greenhouse than a dining room. With a colourful tiled ascent and courtyard, charming gardens and twinkling fairy lights at night, it lends itself to truly unique and memorable occasions.

Stonyridge

Location: Waiheke Island

Nestled in a valley of olive trees, Stonyridge Vineyard & Cafe offers an enchanting experience. The ongoing dream of owner Stephen White, it’s situated on an ideal north-facing site to both harvest vino and welcome visitors. Enjoy Stonyridge’s platters and seasonal plates with a glass of the estate produced Waiheke Bordeaux wines under the shade of its vines, which grow overhead — and all around.

372

Location: Waiheke Island

On the aforementioned Onetangi promenade, 372 takes casual dining up a notch while keeping a breezy island vibe. Run by Luke and Helen Carter, who, in fact, originally set up their neighbouring stalwart (Charlie’s) — 372 feels like a luxury resort offering with an expansive front deck overlooking the beach, and a sheltered patio with a showcase bar towards the back. The menu subscribes to summery by-the-beach food with an elevated edge.

Ki Māha, Waiheke

Ki Māha

Location: Waiheke Island

The third, and finest, jewel in Onetangi’s crown is Ki Māha by Dominique Parat. The artfully designed restaurant has a front deck with panoramic views that are a pleasure to be a part of. Indoors, the sophisticated interior is just as charming. The menu combines sustainably harvested seafood and ethically farmed meats, with locally sourced seasonal fruit and vegetables — expressing the essence of Aotearoa cuisine.

Poderi Crisci

Location: Waiheke Island

At the end of a country lane in the Awaawaroa Valley, Poderi Crisci is an Italian family-owned vineyard and restaurant. As such, it’s a stunning destination vineyard, which appreciates the art of al fresco food and wine, and fine gardens. Antonio Crisci and his partner Vivienne Farnell also originally opened the charming Non Solo Pizza in Parnell, but now their focus is on this slice of Tuscany, on Waiheke. The main restaurant is inspired by the finest traditional cuisine of the chefs’ homeland, prepared with local produce and modern touches. Nextdoor, La Locanda is a breath of fresh air, for those who prefer a more casual outing — still with freshly shucked Te Matuku bay oysters accompanied by a glass of Poderi Crisci Arneis.

Passage Rock

Location: Waiheke Island

It seems the further we get from the main township of Waiheke, the more carefree things become. Passage Rock Wines in Te Matuku Bay was established in the 90s, and while the team takes great pride in their award-winning 14 varietals, their home base is a friendly, casual place where you can enjoy pizza, platters and tapas over summer. Surrounded by Syrah vines, the Bistro café comes with lawn games to entertain all ages and encourage the whole family to enjoy a day out.

Te Motu

Location: Waiheke Island

Te Motu Vineyard is a hidden jewel in the island’s already impressive wine stable, but has fast become one of the most popular Waiheke restaurants. The estate is nestled in the stunning Onetangi Valley, and epitomises every element of the ultimate Waiheke experience. Famed for their award-winning reds (of which we recommend sampling the entire cellar), The Shed’s restaurant offerings are created to complement the varietals, with a modern-rustic approach that harnesses the best of local produce in an un-intimidating way. An essential on every Waiheke itinerary, we think.

Akitō

Location: Waiheke Island

They say good things take time, and this is exemplified at daytime eatery Akitō, named after the word for doing things slowly in te reo. Owners Shantala Tengblad and Simon McNeish’s approach their cooking and food practises with patience, love and attention, especially with their plant-focussed pickling, preserving and fermentation. With inventive twists on typical brunch and lunch fare, this holistic eatery on Ocean View Road, Oneroa, is certainly one of the best Waiheke restaurants.

The Oyster Inn

Location: Waiheke Island

Josh and Helen Emett were regulars at The Oyster Inn since it opened in 2012, and made their presence official in 2020 when they became the new ‘innkeepers’, taking the restaurant and hotel on an exciting new trajectory. Situated above the shops on Ocean View Road, it has charming views of Oneroa Beach and of spectacular sunsets on a good day. The coastal-inspired bistro menu features fresh seafood dishes and seasonal crowd-pleasers. The namesake oysters come from Waiheke’s own Te Matuku, harvested fresh daily.

Cable Bay

Location: Waiheke Island

When thinking of where to wow visitors to Waiheke Island, Cable Bay is often first in mind. Both its award-winning dining room and the more casual wine bar have served many intimate dinners and laughter-filled lunches for over a decade, all to the stunning backdrop of its sweeping views back to Auckland city. With an ever-revolving display of produce, Cable Bay’s focus on seasonal goods means that we’re met with different, garden-fresh fare on every visit. The short meander back to the ferry through native bush afterwards completes the full experience.

Island Gelato Company

Location: Waiheke Island

Built on the nostalgia associated with ice cream and balmy kiwi summers, Island Gelato Co. has long been the go-to spot for a taste of island paradise. Owners Ana Schwarz and Geoff Tippett opened their gelateria originally as a pop-up in Oneroa eight years ago, and — three new openings on the mainland and a new location on the Island (up Ocean View Road) later — it still has us lining up for more.

The Courtyard

Location: Waiheke Island

Whether you’re out for a casual dinner, ordering takeaways to be enjoyed on the beach, or slurping a few Bloody Marys the ‘morning after’, The Courtyard is the place to go. Set off the main stretch in Oneroa, the carefree Waiheke restaurant has a bach-like feel to it, with a mix of indoor and outdoor dining and enviable water views. Stop by no matter the time of day and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, with refined food.

The Best Of
Waikato & Taranaki
Left: Embra, Taupō Right: Rock- It Kitchen, Raglan

Rock-It Kitchen

Location: Raglan

Just out of the township, as you head towards the surf break, everything about this destination feels totally Raglan. Fresh, organic food and afternoon beers on the lawn are a perfect way to while away the weekend. Live music is just a bonus.

The Shack Raglan

Location: Raglan

The perfect spot en route to the West Coast beach, it’s easy to see why The Shack is a favourite among locals. Open for breakfast and lunch, the rustic menu is filled with favourites like housemade granola, bagels and the Hungry Surfer burger. There are also vegan and gluten-free options aplenty, ensuring no diner is left behind.

Cream Eatery

Location: Hamilton

Whether you seek the perfect pick-me-up with their invigorating coffee and seriously good cakes or crave a truly gratifying lunch, this joint has you covered. With a laser focus on bold, robust flavours, Cream Eatery takes pride in crafting dishes that showcase the true essence of ingredients, allowing their natural allure to shine through every bite.

Banh Mi Caphe

Location: Hamilton

Hamilton natives Anh and Pat Chaimontree do an outstanding job plying the people of Hamilton with their delicious Vietnamese eats. Trained in the addictive cuisine since watching her grandmother cook as a child, Anh has carefully honed her craft to creatively deliver flavoursome, family-style fare, from street food dishes through to fresh noodles and salads.

Hayes Common

Location: Hamilton

Quite likely the best thing to happen to the ‘Tron since the Botanical Gardens, Lisa and Brent Quarrie’s cafe by day and gastropub by night — complete with glittering hand-blown Monmouth glass pendants overhead — is a highlight within the burgeoning artisanal food scene.

Embra

Location: Taupō

A rarity in these parts, Embra’s unflinching offering is easily on par with some of the best in major cities, and it’s small boutique and back-street nature makes it all the more endearing. Boasting a celebration of modern Kiwi cuisine, French and British cooking techniques and locally grown produce, the set menu is a constantly evolving work of culinary art.

Cafe Baku

Location: Taupō

Less of a destination and more of an essential for those passing through, Cafe Baku’s plentiful cabinet offerings never fail to impress. From housemade salads to fresh, stuffed sandwiches (and the hallowed Allpress coffee), it is as reliable as it is enjoyable.

Zephyr

Location: Gisborne

Zephyr is the epitome of Gisborne’s growing surf culture. The plant-based cafe is the brainchild of four friends who wanted to use delicious food to better the world. Perfect for a post-swim smoothie bowl, or the beloved Brekky Burritos, this Wainui Beach outpost feels straight out of Byron Bay.

Social Kitchen

Location: Taranaki

This eatery quickly reached stalwart status in Taranaki for exhibiting nothing short of brilliance. Loved by locals as much as it is us out-of-towners, the bistro offers a new take on shared dining that always promises deliciousness.

The Ōkato

Location: Taranaki

The Ōkato is a newly renovated, historic hotel just south of Taranaki. Its flagship eatery, Little Trench, and soon-to-come bar, Trencherman, offer some of the most divine food we’d never expect to find in this corner of town. Think salmon and egg toasts, homebaked gluten-free cakes, and coffee you can rely on (a long road trip essential).

The Best Of
Hawke’s Bay
Left: Black Barn Bistro, Havelock North Right: Sazio, Hastings

Black Barn Bistro

Location: Havelock North

After enduring extensive damage from a fire last February, Black Barn Vineyards’ bistro has emerged from the ashes, presenting a renewed ambience and an evolved menu. Chef Regnar Christensen crafts a culinary journey that features delights such as chicken and duck terrine with tiger milk mustard, fish of the day with rigatoni and crayfish sauce and a caramelised crepe adorned with burnt orange caramel and velvety vanilla ice cream. Perfect long weekend dining, we say.

Bistronomy

Location: Napier

Fresh, foraged flavours are what you will find at Napier’s contemporary restaurant, Bistronomy. The menu changes along with the season and the dishes only feature the best of the best ingredients, ensuring that everything that comes out of its kitchens is top quality.

Vinci’s Pizza

Location: Napier

Run by none other than Mr Vinci himself, this Napier hotspot is serving up pizza pie just as it should be; big, thin-crusted and extremely tasty. Lord knows we love a good slice of the aptly named Banger.

Central Fire Station Bistro, Napier

Central Fire Station Bistro

Location: Napier

If you’re looking for something different from the usual winery-based dining in Hawkes Bay, Central Fire Station Bistro in Napier is serving up a crowd-pleasing menu. In one of the art deco buildings that make the city so quaint, and like all good eateries, there’s a strong focus on local, seasonal produce, a fitting choice as the region is abundant with its offerings. We recommend the spiced lamb rump, just as the weather begins to cool off.

Mary’s

Location: Havelock North

New to the heart of Havelock North is Mary’s, a delicious and down-to-earth restaurant and wine bar. Clever yet concise, the menu features a succinct selection of bites and main plates (think burgers, gnocchi and local seafood), along with wines from the region and cocktails.

Sazio

Location: Hastings

Handmade pasta is the name of the hunger game at Sazio, a contemporary and welcoming bar and eatery in the heart of Hastings. 

The Best Of
Wellington
Left: Highwater Eatery, Wellington Right: Kisa, Wellington

August

Location: Wellington

Taranaki Street’s August Eatery has all the makings of a new classic. The menu feels a little Honey Bones-esque while still offering its own slant on staples like Istanbul Eggs and pappardelle pasta for breakfast.

Rita

Location: Wellington

Taking up residence on Aro Valley’s main drag, this intimate 30-seater restaurant feels more akin to a delicious dinner party with friends. The set menu evolves every day, focussing on (as they all do) fresh, seasonal produce that pays homage to the surrounds. With two sittings every night, while the menu is never guaranteed, the execution is always delightful.

Highwater Eatery

Location: Wellington

Found tucked away in lower Cuba Street, the open kitchen’s crown jewel is the charcoal oven imported from Spain, which informs everything Mediterranean inspired on the menu. Complete with local craft brews and an excellent wine list, it’s an intimate destination we recommend for lunch and dinner.

GPO, Wellington

GPO

Location: Wellington

GPO transcends the boundaries of hotel dining by offering an enchanting retreat for indulging in modern European cuisine. With a menu that showcases hand-pinched butternut ravioli, spear-caught butterfish and organic sourdough with cacio e pepe butter, this culinary gem beckons any traveller seeking something new.

Kisa

Location: Wellington

Kisa is Wellington’s answer to fresh, Middle Eastern fare. With a prime corner position on the infamous Cuba Street, the menu is casual yet chic, beginning with an impressive dips menu that extends all the way to indulgent dishes designed to share.

Margot

Location: Wellington

Taking up residence where former cult-favourite Mason once stood, Margot’s menu describes itself as a seasonal work in progress. It is part wine bar, part dining destination, that offers an ever-changing raft of sumptuous small plates to share. Lately, we’ve loved the fried butternut squash, and it would be a mistake not to order a bowl of stracciatella to start.

The Runholder

Location: Martinborough

Nestled on the edge of the famed Martinborough Terrace amid Wairarapa sits The Runholder, an expansive new hospitality beacon by Foley Wines that celebrates the best of the region’s spoils. With its restaurant, tasting room, cellar door, distillery, private dining room and subterranean barrel hall, The Runholder sits pretty on a run of land at Te Kairanga vineyard — a plot originally held by Martinborough’s pioneering namesake, John Martin. Here, you’ll find exquisite local food and drink, striking views, and endless ways to while away a day in paradise.

The Best Of
Nelson/Marlborough

The Mussel Inn

Location: Onekaka, Golden Bay

Built by the Dixon family, who felled their own trees, The Mussel Inn is an off-beat institution in Onekaka that brews its own beer, serves wholesome fare and features live music.

Arden

Location: Nelson

With a menu of imaginative seasonal dishes designed for sharing, accompanied by a thoughtfully curated wine selection, including rare and natural wines available at their adjacent wine shop, Porta Via, Arden invites you to indulge in a gastronomic experience that celebrates the richness of local produce and intimate dining.

Le Plônc

Location: Nelson

Fine European cuisine hasn’t always been synonymous with Nelson, but Le Plonc’s inspired offering is worth discovering. (In fact, it has quickly made it one of the best restaurants in New Zealand.) Using local wildlife photographer Craig Potton’s works as the starting point (whose gallery is co-incidentally next door), the degustation menu is complemented with divine French wines, culminating in a truly memorable meal.

Harvest, Blenheim

Harvest

Location: Blenheim

Serving up a raft of utterly delicious fare that harnesses the mouth-watering potential of charcoal-fire cooking, Harvest is a must-visit for anyone stopping in Blenheim. For the team at Harvest, ‘authenticity’ is the name of the game, where ever-changing seasonal menus tap into the best local produce, and the culinary maestros in the kitchen whip up most of their dishes in a Mibrasa Charcoal oven (the kind used in a number of Michelin Star restaurants around the world). Here, diners will not only discover exceptionally tasty food but they will be treated to world-class hospitality in a breathtaking, Marlborough setting.

Boat Shed Cafe

Location: Nelson

Appearing to levitate above the water on Nelson’s winding waterfront, Boat Shed’s seasonally inspired menu celebrates elevated New Zealand produce every day. Here, make the most of the nearby port’s bounty with freshly caught seafood, and an outlook that truly feels like summer, no matter the weather.

Hopgoods & Co

Location: Nelson

Hopgoods & Co is a Nelson institution, with the bistro taking up residence in the heart of the city, serving seasonally based bistro-style food with the best of the region’s artisan produce. Intimate and chic, it’s always delicious.

Arbour

Location: Blenheim

Far from the winery destinations, Arbour is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s finest regional restaurants. It is perhaps the grandest showcase of Marlborough’s bountiful offering and delivers a four-course tasting menu and a seven-course dining experience.

The Best Of
Canterbury
Left: Bessie, Christchurch Right: Inati, Christchurch

The Store

Location: Kekerengu, Kaikoura

Found on the coastline between the Marlborough Sounds and the expanse of Christchurch is Kekerengu’s The Store. Some 60km north of Kaikoura, the rugged coastline makes for a beautiful holiday drive, and The Store is the perfect pitstop. It’s been a mainstay for 28 years, serving much of the same locally sourced fresh fish. The breathtaking views of the beaches beyond are just a welcome addition you can expect to find around these parts.

Inati

Location: Christchurch

Inati’s captivating fare, meticulously prepared and sourced from the finest local ingredients, adds a new element to Christchurch’s dining scene. From the intriguing Boeuf-nuts to the evocative Donkey Carrot, Chef Simon Levy’s culinary artistry unfolds amidst a thoughtfully designed space, promising a seriously unforgettable meal.

Earl

Location: Christchurch

Earl will transport you with its European bistro-style classics and warm, welcoming atmosphere. The all-day eatery and wine bar is not only one of New Zealand’s best restaurants but is a must-visit for fans of unpretentious food with an emphasis on flavour and premium ingredients.

Gatherings

Location: Christchurch

At the southern destination’s Gatherings, organics take precedence. Boasting the official title of the country’s first natural wine bar, the drinks offering is just a wonderful complement to the food, which by our judgement, is second to none. Featuring modern, innovative fare, that loosely nods to Mediterranean cuisine, it is essential dining for any Christchurch vacation.

Bessie, Christchurch

Bessie

Location: Christchurch

This excellent spot offers a unique taste of the South Island that needs to be on your radar. Bessie specialises in dry-aged cuts, so vegans need not apply, and trust us, they’re not exaggerating when they claim to be ‘Canterbury’s best’. With a complimentary wine menu that promises to keep you perfectly libated, Bessie is a Christchurch favourite.

Barkers’ Foodstore & Eatery

Location: Geraldine

A town traditionally considered a pit-stop, Barkers’ new eatery is the perfect spot to while away some time in South Canterbury. Half shopfront for the now-impressive New Zealand food brand, the eatery is what has us coming back. Serving Allpress Coffee (a rare commodity around these parts), the menu showcases Barkers’ brilliance with delicious local slants on eggs benedict, French toast, and burgers for later in the day. We’d also suggest the Tasting Platter, where local cheeses and produce have been expertly paired with some of Barkers’ emblematic condiments.

Fairlie Bakehouse

Location: Fairlie

Anyone undertaking the harrowing journey south to the snow will be familiar with Fairlie Bakehouse — or, more specifically, the pies. With 4000+ Google reviews and counting, it’s fair to say that these pies are unrivalled and are an essential contribution to a car of happy travellers.

The Best Of
Otago
Left: Odd Saint, Queenstown Right: Ayrburn, Queenstown

Ayrburn

Location: Queenstown

Set on a piece of historic land in Arrowtown, Ayrburn is the spectacular new dining precinct that is shaking up New Zealand’s culinary scene. Here, you’ll find original farm buildings now housing a series of exceptional hospitality venues that will offer visitors a vast array of experiences. From delicious, family-friendly eateries to intimate bars, fine dining restaurants, picnic spots, a gelateria and more, you’ll find something for every taste and proclivity.

Sherwood

Location: Queenstown

Loved for its passionate commitment to being both organic and 100% sustainable, the Sherwood kitchen is very much focused on a homegrown ethos. With a philosophy of things “not having to travel far” to make it onto your plate, the team at Sherwood have an extremely deft way of working locally grown produce into unspeakably delicious dishes.

Odd Saint

Location: Queenstown

Odd Saint complements its owners’ previous impressive destinations but also sits as a unique establishment — a bistro-style eatery that puts a deliciously creative spin on an otherwise traditional menu, offering what the owners call ‘global soul food’.

Amisfield

Location: Lake Hayes

Perhaps the region’s most familiar destination, there is good reasons the crowds habitually frequent Amisfield’s restaurant and cellar door. Helmed by Executive Chef Vaughan Mabee, the flavour profiles on this menu are so authentically regional, you can see how the entire team are doing all that they can to honour both the specialness of the environment and the species that live there.

Mora Wines & Artisan Kitchen

Location: Lake Hayes

Formerly (and fondly) known as Akarua, Mora Wines & Artisan Kitchen recently stepped into its second culinary chapter. Renowned for its magical outdoor courtyard and its cottage garden festooned with flowers, Mora is the ideal spot to dine with a group without compromising on fanciful fare.

Aosta

Location: Arrowtown

With a menu inspired by the intricate cooking techniques of Northern Italy and showcasing premium, Central Otago produce, Aosta is the South Island venture from renowned chef Ben Bayly and is one of the best restaurants in New Zealand. Putting a Kiwi spin on fine Italian food, this incredible restaurant has become a fast favourite among locals and visitors alike. 

The Lodge Bar, Queenstown

The Lodge Bar

Location: Queenstown

An extension of the Rodd & Gunn clothing empire, The Lodge Bar is the place to sample the best food and wine our country has to offer. Located on the lakefront side of their retail store, the picturesque setting is made all the better by the seasonal menu, designed by famed Kiwi chef Matt Lambert, formerly of New York City’s Michelin-starred Musket Room. For more excellent Queenstown eateries, discover our comprehensive round-up here.

Miss Rita’s Cantina

Location: Queenstown

Authentic Tex-Mex, frozen margaritas and legendary service collide at Miss Rita’s Cantina, the latest eatery to open its door in Queenstown’s newest hospitality precinct below the Skyline Gondola. Sure to deliver a seriously good time for the whole family, the all-day eatery is bright, airy, and all about kicking back and relaxing over great food and delicious drinks. Sublime.

Olivers

Location: Clyde

On Clyde’s charming main street, Olivers is a sun-drenched café by day and an atmospheric restaurant at nightfall. As well as the calibre of wines you’d expect from Central Otago, the on-site Victoria Store Brewery pulls craft beers.

No7 Balmac

Location: Dunedin

This iconic southern restaurant has been a pioneer of woodfired cuisine, noted as routinely serving up some of the country’s most delicious meats — the kind that you would only find around these parts. It’s not every day you’ll find us in Dunedin, so when you do, No7 Balmac becomes essential dining.

Moiety

Location: Dunedin

A trip to Dunedin wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Moiety, a sophisticated restaurant located in the historic warehouse precinct. With its five-course offering flawlessly showcasing local produce at its finest, each plate is like a work of art.

Esplanade

Location: Dunedin

Here, the team from No7 Balmac presents an impeccable Italian restaurant at Saint Clair Beach, Esplanade, which serves up a slice of the good life. With interiors by Cheshire Architects, it’s cosy even when the waves are crashing.

Plato

Location: Dunedin

One of Dunedin’s most famous institutions, Plato is the place to go if you’re looking for fresh seafood cooked to perfection. A treasure trove of quirky decor with a consistently lively vibe, here, you’ll find an extensive menu and considered drinks list featuring in-house Birch Street Brewery beers.

The Best Of
Southland
Oyster Cove Restaurant & Bar, Bluff

Black Shag

Location: Invercargill

Think of this as Southland’s answer to Orphans Kitchen. It’s eclectic and, dare I say it, slightly hipster, with a thorough yet sincerely delicious coffee menu, and an all-day eats menu that ranges from bagels and Turkish eggs to pork belly bao buns. 

Oyster Cove Restaurant & Bar

Location: Bluff

As we find ourselves in the midst of Bluffie season, is there any better destination to indulge than the southern tip itself? Here, the focus is on both food and expansive views where even if oysters aren’t your thing, plenty of local delicacies like a fresh seafood chowder, and at times, an iconic Southland Roll can be found.

Gastronomy

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