Dining Recommendations South Island

Feb 3rd, 2018, 09:18 PM
  #1  
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Dining Recommendations South Island

Hello all,
We have nailed down the itinerary, and are now looking at dinner options. It is nice, I think, to leave some opportunity to decide last minute where we want to go to eat--in most instances it would be for dinner. We are "kind of" foodies, and are somewhat adventurous, not really into sushi. We would appreciate recommendations for:
Hanmer Springs (No. 31 looks good)--we only have one night there
Blenheim-we have two nights there (Harvest and Arbor both came up in searches. Would be cool to go to a vineyard
Nelson/Mapua--we are staying at Bronte Lodge so I think Mapua is closer for us at night. Jellyfish, Apple Shed and Moutere all showed up in searches
Franz Josef--we have one night already at our hotel Te Waonui, Should we eat there two nights? Blue Ice looks interesting.
Queenstown--we have friends there so don't want to "over-reserve". We are thinking one day would be great to go to the Vineyards, specifically Gibbston area. Is there a spot that all recommend?
Auckland/Waikeke--We have the opportunity to go there for a day trip. It sounds like there are some particularly nice spots there. This would potentially be our last evening meal in NZ.

Thanks for any and all suggestions
Nntexas is offline  
Feb 4th, 2018, 12:29 AM
  #2  
 
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If you're foodies, have a look at New Zealand's Cuisine Magazine's 2017 restaurant awards:
2017 HAT WINNERS
Arbour in Blenheim is on their list.
Hans Herzog Winery in Blenheim has a highly regarded restaurant and they serve dinner.

In Queenstown, book Amisfield Bistro (it's on Cuisine's list, too), which is part of Amisfield Winery. It's not in Queenstown itself, but about a 15 minute drive from downtown Queenstown on the way to Lake Hayes/Arrowtown. They have a "Trust the Chef" menu and that's all--but you can totally trust the chef here! It's a beautiful winery.
Rata in Queenstown also makes the list. It's in downtown Queestown, a lively, bustling place. Good food, but I felt a little hungry after three courses (unlike Amisfield). I do eat a lot, especially at dinner.

I've eaten at Jellyfish at Mapua Wharf a couple of times. Nothing fancy, just good food which both my husband and I enjoyed. The location is wonderful. Haven't eaten at those other places, but Apple Shed is near Jellyfish so also has great views. We had a look at their menu, but decided on Jellyfish. I don't think you'll have to prebook, so you can probably do the same: have a look at the menus, specials, views and then decide.

Waiheke Island's vineyards and vineyard restaurants are gorgeous. The Shed at Te Motu is the only one to make Cuisine's list. I thought they only served lunch but it seems they serve dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. It's a beautiful small winery with good wines.
The Shed - Te Motu Vineyard | Cellar Door | Restaurant

There are many beautiful places for lunch on Waiheke, Cable Bay Wineyards, Mudbrick Winery, Tantalus Winery, and a few others that are a little harder to get to.
https://cablebay.nz/dining/the-verandah/
Our Restaurants | Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant
https://www.tantalus.co.nz/restaurant/

All but one of Cuisine Magazine top ("three hat") choices are in Auckland.
Diamantina is offline  
Feb 4th, 2018, 10:15 AM
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Do you like Indian food? We seek it out wherever we visit and we adore Little India in Nelson. They used to have locations in QT and Wanaka too, but those locations are now The Spice Room, which, while good, I don't like as much as the originals. Mantra in Arrowtown (also Indian) is very good too (a sister restaurant to Little India I believe).

It's been a few years since we dined at either, but both are on our list for our May trip to NZ.

Diamantina - is the Little India in Dunedin still operating?

If you find yourself in the vicinity of Bannockburn, don't miss the opportunity for a lunch at Mt Difficulty Winery. They recently changed hands from what Diamantina tells me, but have always been very good in the past, and we plan to revisit to find out for ourselves.
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2018, 10:17 AM
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And thanks for posting that link Diamantina - reminds me I still have some research to do!
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2018, 12:40 PM
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Thank you so much for the detailed info, diamantina and melnq8!

these sound like some great options. Good to hear that I don't need to reserve so much ahead of time. I have reserved in some spots, particularly when I know we will either arrive late or it is a Sun or Mon night, which look like there are fewer options.

We are getting excited, checking out the clothes to make sure we have the right things. I presume that Franz Josef area will be cool in March, so want to be sure we have decent layers, for that, and the half-day bike trip we've booked in vineyards
Nntexas is offline  
Feb 4th, 2018, 02:00 PM
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NZ doesn't get terribly cold - and I'd expect warm weather in March, certainly not cold - although if you're from Texas, your blood might be pretty thin

Forgot to mention that Blue Ice is our go to Franz Josef restaurant, although we've only had their pizza.

We seldom make restaurant bookings, although Amisfield and Mt Difficulty are exceptions.

Last edited by Melnq8; Feb 4th, 2018 at 02:02 PM. Reason: correction
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Feb 4th, 2018, 03:12 PM
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Yes, Melnq8, Dunedin's Little India is still open and has a loyal clientele. It was the first Little India Restaurant:
https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/f...han-just-meals
What Indian restaurant do you recommend for Christchurch?

When in doubt about where to dine in NZ towns, I'll often eat Indian, too, especially when I'm on my own and just want a simple Tandoori chicken and garlic naan. I took Indian cooking lessons when I was in my late teens, but who has a tandoor oven? I've enjoyed food at Spice Room in Wanaka, Taj and Bombay Palace in Queenstown, Priya in Hokitika and Greymouth, Little India in Wellington and Invercargill. My husband is more of a foodie (huge cookbook collection), so when we travel together, we'll splurge a bit.
Diamantina is offline  
Feb 4th, 2018, 03:47 PM
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Diamantina -

We sorely miss Indian food since we've moved back to the US. The closest city to our mountain town only has 2-3 options, (although the population is over 400,000) and they're not very good.

Our usual date night in Perth was a meal at Anghiti - we miss it like you would not believe.

There used to be a Little India (or maybe two) and a Mantra in Christchurch (not sure if they're still there). Unsurprisingly, they were also at the top of our list.

We too, have eaten at Spice Room, Taj and Bombay Palace, and even Raj in Balcutha. Interesting how sparsely populated NZ has so many, and we have almost zilch.

I make Indian food here at home these days, but it's just not the same. Like you said, no tandoor oven.

Suddenly I'm craving Paneer Lababdar and garlic naan.
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2018, 11:42 PM
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Thanks for the Christchurch tips, Melnq8. Balclutha has an Indian restaurant! Makes sense. There are many Indians here.

I remember having a terrific Indian meal in Perth, can't remember the name of the restaurant. It's probably long gone. In California, I worked with woman who told me her family was the first Indian family to settle in Perth. Hard to believe, but she wasn't prone to exaggeration or lying.

I bet you don't have any trouble finding an authentic Mexican meal. Try finding Mexican food on the South Island. There are Mexican restaurants, but I'm too afraid of being disappointed, and the prices seem ridiculous compared to California or Mexico. I've started making my own corn tortillas.
Diamantina is offline  
Feb 5th, 2018, 04:11 AM
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Yeah, no shortage of Mexican food here, although 'authentic' is a bit of a stretch. Hatch green chilies are abundant, which is a nice perk to living so close to New Mexico. I suspect Clifton is jealous!

We've eaten Mexican food in Wanaka - it was good, but very expensive, and a bit odd. Our motto is 'friends don't let friends eat Mexican food in Australia or New Zealand'.
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 5th, 2018, 04:05 PM
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"Hatch green chilies are abundant." You're torturing me. I longingly remember the perfume of the autumn chile roasters in Santa Fe, where I lived for a year.
"We've eaten Mexican food in Wanaka - it was good, but very expensive, and a bit odd." That's precisely what I'm afraid of. Good motto for your friends. In New Zealand, Mexican food ingredients are lacking or short supply. We've given up on the possibility of finding fresh tomatillos here. All the same, we're lucky to have so much fresh seasonal produce available at our local Farmers Market (especially in summer, not so much in winter).
Diamantina is offline  
Feb 5th, 2018, 06:37 PM
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So I am booked into Amisfield for one dinner. Also went ahead and booked Rata in Q'town. We do have some "open" nights also.
I saw Blue Ice and that looked like fun, Melnq8.
Anyone ever been to Hanmer Springs? I found a place called No. 31 which looks good. They saw we should reserve. Appreciate your insights!

Many thanks
Nntexas is offline  
Feb 5th, 2018, 06:44 PM
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Oh I meant to ask advice about Waiheke Island. We have a day near the end of the trip which would be perfect for visiting Waiheke. The Shed at Te Motu looks fantastic. We are really not much for luncheons, typically, usually don't stop for lunch. And I see that Te Motu is about 30 min from the ferry. So is your advice the hop on/hop off bus and plan on lunch there? The hotel gave me a couple of names of "tours" but I really detest tours, and the private tour option is pretty dear $$ wise. So what do you all think about dinner vs. lunch at The Shed? And hop on/hop off bus?

Thanks so much again
Nntexas is offline  
Feb 6th, 2018, 02:12 AM
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Did you see these links for the Waiheke Explorer Hop On Hop Off bus?
https://www.fullers.co.nz/experience...-off-bus-tour/
waiheke-explorer-timetable_english.pdf
Diamantina is offline  
Feb 6th, 2018, 02:35 AM
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Otherwise you can take the regular local bus. The #1 bus from Matiatia Wharf (the wharf for Fuller's Ferry) to Onetangi stops at Wild on Waiheke, also the stop for Te Motu--just tell the bus driver where you want to get off. It'll probably take about 20 to 25 minutes (unless there are roadworks). Te Motu's website says it takes 15 minutes to walk from the bus stop. There are four wineries wineries in this area, all within a short walk of one another: Wild on Waiheke, Stonyridge, Te Motu, and Tantalus. During the day, it seems most folks start at Wild on Waiheke and then move on to the other three. This is what my husband and I did, only we skipped Wild on Waiheke as everyone else was going there first. Te Motu was the quietest and least crowded of the wineries. We didn't even know they had a restaurant until our visit (because unlike you we didn't do our homework), so we just had wine, as we'd just had something to eat. But we wouldn't pass up on the chance to dine there, should we visit Waiheke again (because the menu looks amazing and because it made Cuisine's Top 100 restaurants list). I think a ride on the regular local bus costs about $3. The #1 bus runs from morning until late evening (see schedule below).You also have the option of buying all day bus pass for $10 in conjunction with your Fullers Ferry return fare.. This is a great option if you plan on spending the day on Waiheke. You can visit Onetangi Beach, walk around Oneroa village, etc.
Diamantina is offline  
Feb 6th, 2018, 02:38 AM
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I tried to include links for the bus schedule, a Waiheke bus map, and reviews for Te Motu's The Shed, but this wasn't letting me do so. I tried again and again. Frustrating.

Last edited by Diamantina; Feb 6th, 2018 at 02:40 AM.
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Feb 6th, 2018, 06:14 AM
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I've stayed in Hanmer Springs many times, but the only thing I know about Restaurant 31 is that it's in the same building as the former Laurels, which was wonderful! I just looked at their site - looks promising.
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2018, 12:50 PM
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Diamantina-
Thanks for the links. I think you had mentioned it earlier too. Looks like a good option if we book lunch, but if we decide on the Fri night Fish dinner at Te Motu I think we'll need a car or cab. Will keep you updated on that.

Melnq8, I agree the website looks good. We tried calling them several times yesterday with no luck, and unfortunately does not seem to have an email address. I think I'll ask our Hanmer Springs hotel to help out on that.

We are pretty much good to go at this point on itinerary, just a few things to complete and decide. Could not do it without you all!
Nntexas is offline  
Feb 6th, 2018, 01:36 PM
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Diamantina -

I saw some tomatillos in the grocery store this morning - I've never cooked with them. I assume they're used in Mexican food?
Melnq8 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2018, 03:36 PM
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Melnq8, I use the tomatillos to make green salsa (salsa verde). The tomatillos can be raw, roasted or boiled before used. Even Martha Stewart offers a couple of different versions!
The plants are sold in New Zealand, but I've never seen the fruit for sale, though they're probably available on the North Island, with its warmer weather. Though they look like green tomatoes, they are actually related to the Cape Gooseberry. I make do by ordering Rick Bayless's Frontera Brand Tomatillo Salsa from the U.S. I always have a few bottles on hand.
Another tough thing to get used to is the price and quality of avocados on the South Island. What's Mexican food without avocados? Right now, in summer, they're $4.50 a piece and the quality is poor. Over the holidays, our neighbor in Dunedin returned home to Tauranga for a visit and brought us a huge bag of the most luscious creamy avocados. Such a treat.
Nntexas, if you decide to take a taxi, I'd suggest prebooking. You can save a little by taking the bus there. If you get an early booking for The Shed (it seems the first seating is at 6 p.m.), they you can go over to the island earlier and have a look around (it's lovely there).
The #1 bus is very reliable. Many folks depend on that route, at that hour on a Friday, commuters returning home from work in Auckland. But I wouldn't expect the bus to be crowded. My husband and I spent four or five nights (need to check my notes) on Waiheke last March and we mostly took the bus day and night and rented a car for a couple of days to get to areas not served by public transportation.
Tasmangirl could advise you better, as she lives in Auckland and knows Waiheke well (and loves it).

Last edited by Diamantina; Feb 6th, 2018 at 03:44 PM.
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