In a two-story Victorian waterfront hotel overlooking Ingles Bay, the Pier is one of Kaikoura's most dependable eateries. Think classic New Zealand pub with a bit of a makeover. The dining room serves consistently good, fresh local dishes, particularly seafood. Their chowder is thick and creamy and is served as a lunch dish or dinner main; or try the lamb or aged steak. At NZ$85 their whole crayfish evening main (lobster) might sound expensive but it sure tastes good.
If seafood is your thing the Seafood Platter (NZ$38) would also be hard to go past. The bar serves cheaper lunches and pub snacks if you're just looking to graze.