Otago, Invercargill, and Stewart Island Restaurants

Dunedin has the area's highest concentration of good restaurants. Seafood is a big player, in part because of Dunedin's coastal location but also because of its proximity to Bluff, the home of New Zealand's great delicacy, the Bluff oysters. Many of the least-expensive options are café-like Asian restaurants; these tend to close early, around 9 pm. Locals don't usually dress up or make reservations for anything other than the most exclusive establishments.

Invercargill has a more limited selection of mostly moderately priced restaurants. Stewart Island has a reasonable selection considering its location, but in winter some places limit their hours or close.

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  • 1. Salt Bar & Restaurant

    $$$

    In an iconic art deco building, this is the place to dine in St. Clair's, a leafy seaside neighborhood along a spectacular beach. Sate yourself...

    In an iconic art deco building, this is the place to dine in St. Clair's, a leafy seaside neighborhood along a spectacular beach. Sate yourself with beef Burgundy pie or venison; the less carnivorous may wish to try the vegan vege salad. The bar's cool aura of chrome finishing and art deco style is warmed by the dining area, which has a brick fireplace. A huge brunch menu caters to all tastes, and many dishes can be made gluten-free. The service is extremely friendly. Brunch is available only on weekends from 9 am.

    240 Forbury Rd., Dunedin, Otago, 9012, New Zealand
    03-455–1077

    Known For

    • Sunny corner location close to beach
    • Delicious food at reasonable prices
    • Great brunch menu

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Reservations essential
  • 2. 1908 Café & Bar

    $$$

    There are good views of the harbor from this converted post office "where the high road meets the low road." The interior still feels Edwardian,...

    There are good views of the harbor from this converted post office "where the high road meets the low road." The interior still feels Edwardian, and classic seafood dishes and steaks lead the menu; on a nice day sit outside in the courtyard, or, in winter, beside the open fire. Reservations are recommended.

    7 Harington Point Rd., Portobello, Otago, 9014, New Zealand
    03-478–0801

    Known For

    • Beautiful harbor views
    • Gorgeous Edwardian decor
    • Delicious seafood and steaks menu

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Tues
  • 3. Bay Café

    $$$ | Coffee

    Located in the first settlement you reach on the peninsula, this well-known café has fine views across the harbor. Scallops, prawns, blue cod, and mussels...

    Located in the first settlement you reach on the peninsula, this well-known café has fine views across the harbor. Scallops, prawns, blue cod, and mussels are popular, as are the tasty pizzas with smoked salmon and prawns. The brunch menu is served between 11 and 3, and the dinner menu kicks in at 5.

    494 Portobello Rd., Portobello, Otago, 9014, New Zealand
    03-476–0075

    Known For

    • <PRO>charming surroundings</PRO>
    • <PRO>great seafood</PRO>
    • <PRO>popular brunch menu</PRO>

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted, Reservations essential
  • 4. Cabbage Tree

    $$$$

    A spacious dining room done in wood and brick offers a supersize menu with more than 100 dishes. Popular choices are Stewart Island blue cod,...

    A spacious dining room done in wood and brick offers a supersize menu with more than 100 dishes. Popular choices are Stewart Island blue cod, lamb shanks, prawns, pan-seared venison, and Bluff oyster dishes. The wine list includes mostly New Zealand wines, with the occasional European bottle for the stubborn. The outdoor garden bar is a perfect place to enjoy the Southland sun with a glass of wine; forget driving and make use of a courtesy vehicle for pickup/drop-off within Otatara and Invercargill city.

    379 Dunns Rd., Invercargill, Southland, 9879, New Zealand
    03-213–1443

    Known For

    • Comprehensive menu including many New Zealand wines
    • Deliciously fresh seafood
    • Wonderful outdoor garden bar
  • 5. Church Hill Boutique Lodge and Restaurant

    $$$$

    At the heart of the menu is food of the sea, or kai moana. Stewart Island blue cod, salmon, mussels, oysters, crayfish, and paua (abalone)...

    At the heart of the menu is food of the sea, or kai moana. Stewart Island blue cod, salmon, mussels, oysters, crayfish, and paua (abalone) are all cooked to perfection and accompanied by fresh vegetables from the garden just yards away. A specialty here is muttonbird (when in season). This intimate little restaurant with a view out to sea is popular with both locals and visitors. It operates in conjunction with Church Hill Boutique Lodge next door.

    36 Kamahi Rd., Oban, Southland, 9846, New Zealand
    03-219–1123

    Known For

    • Delicious muttonbird
    • Hilltop views out over Foveaux Strait
    • Popularity with locals and visitors alike

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Apr.–Aug. No lunch weekdays, Reservations essential
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  • 6. Just Cafe

    $

    Britt Moore runs this little, bright yellow establishment offering a nice selection of sweet and savory scones (try their cheeses ones), slices and cakes, along...

    Britt Moore runs this little, bright yellow establishment offering a nice selection of sweet and savory scones (try their cheeses ones), slices and cakes, along with your usual tea and coffee. It's a great place to stop and watch the world go by. Friendly and chatty staff.

    6 Main Rd., Oban, Southland, 9846, New Zealand
    027-314–6192

    Known For

    • Best crepes in the region
    • Cozy atmosphere
    • Excellent coffee

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed June–Sept., Reservations essential
  • 7. Kai Kart

    $

    Come here for good old-fashioned fish-and-chips wrapped in a newspaper. There isn't an ounce of pretense in this cheerful little place, which is little more...

    Come here for good old-fashioned fish-and-chips wrapped in a newspaper. There isn't an ounce of pretense in this cheerful little place, which is little more than a trailer with a shelter tacked over close to the town's "skateboard park" (a wooden ramp). The owner has a mussel farm in Paterson Inlet, and the cod comes from the Halfmoon Bay fishery. Try the bacon-wrapped mussels or chef Hilli's divine mussel chowder. They also do great venison burgers.  

    7 Ayr St., Oban, Southland, 9846, New Zealand
    03-219–1225

    Known For

    • Local mussels and cod
    • Casual atmosphere popular with tourists and locals alike
    • Small space

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed May–Sept.
  • 8. Little India Dunedin

    $$$

    Influenced by the flavors of northern India (and the kitchen of founder Sukhi's grandmother), this family business began in Dunedin and has become a chain...

    Influenced by the flavors of northern India (and the kitchen of founder Sukhi's grandmother), this family business began in Dunedin and has become a chain spanning the country. Spacious and modern eateries meet traditional cooking methods, and warm hospitality and generous portions of spicy vindaloos and Bengali fish preparations are among the hallmarks. A good selection of Indian beers and excellent wines complement dishes.

    308 Moray Pl., Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
    03-477–6559

    Known For

    • Authentic North Indian cuisine
    • Great curries
    • Indian beers

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch weekends, Reservations essential
  • 9. Little India Invercargill

    $$$

    Influenced by the flavors of northern India (and the kitchen of founder Sukhi's grandmother) this family business began in Dunedin and now has restaurants spanning...

    Influenced by the flavors of northern India (and the kitchen of founder Sukhi's grandmother) this family business began in Dunedin and now has restaurants spanning the country. Spacious and modern eateries offer traditional cooking methods; warm hospitality and generous portions keep diners coming back. The display of lamp shades covering one wall is an odd decorative choice given the lack of embellishment elsewhere, but an open fireplace adds a nice touch during winter. There's a good selection of Indian beers and an excellent choice of wines that complement the dishes. Reservations are a good idea, but not an absolute requirement.

    11 The Crescent, Invercargill, Southland, 9810, New Zealand
    03-214–1555

    Known For

    • Exotic and authentic Indian cuisine
    • Cozy and charming atmosphere
    • Plenty of vegetarian options

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch weekends
  • 10. Plato

    $$$$

    A favorite among locals, this waterfront eatery that was once a seafarers hostel provides great food and excellent service. Everything is delicious, from the bread...

    A favorite among locals, this waterfront eatery that was once a seafarers hostel provides great food and excellent service. Everything is delicious, from the bread and house-made duck liver–cognac pâté to the perfectly cooked seafood and chicken dishes. They also do a mean coffee and great desserts. Sunday brunch is popular here.

    2 Birch St., Dunedin, Otago, 9016, New Zealand
    03-477–4235

    Known For

    • Impressive all-encompassing menu
    • Great waterfront views
    • BYOB policy
  • 11. Riverstone Kitchen

    $$$

    The mouthwatering menu focuses on organic, locally grown, seasonal produce, offering regional New Zealand cuisine with a few Asian accents (a Thai duck salad, for...

    The mouthwatering menu focuses on organic, locally grown, seasonal produce, offering regional New Zealand cuisine with a few Asian accents (a Thai duck salad, for instance). While the atmosphere is casual, the food is serious thanks to chef Bevan Smith, who trained in Christchurch and has published four cookbooks. The "Little People" menu is just for kids. A prix-fixe menu lets you sample the best of the offerings for a fairly reasonable price. The restaurant is 12 km (7½ miles) north of the center of Oamaru.

    1431 State Hwy. 1, Oamaru, Otago, New Zealand
    03-431–3505

    Known For

    • Fresh seasonal fare
    • Innovative and elegant menu
    • Affordable prix-fixe option

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner Mon.--Fri.
  • 12. Sampan Dunedin

    $

    This no-frills noodle bar is crowded with students and serves yummy, filling, and inexpensive soups. Menu highlights include spicy satay chicken burgers, fried rice, bong-bong...

    This no-frills noodle bar is crowded with students and serves yummy, filling, and inexpensive soups. Menu highlights include spicy satay chicken burgers, fried rice, bong-bong chicken, and deep-fried wantons.

    60-64 St. Andrew St., Dunedin, Otago, 9016, New Zealand
    03-471–7016

    Known For

    • Signature dishes of Thai, Khmer, and Chinese cuisine
    • Quick service
    • Popularity with university students
  • 13. South Sea Hotel Restaurant

    $$$ | Coffee

    You can have a relaxed meal in the seaside restaurant or an even more relaxed meal in the bar at this popular local spot. Local...

    You can have a relaxed meal in the seaside restaurant or an even more relaxed meal in the bar at this popular local spot. Local seafood (including oysters), pizza, pasta, and steaks offer good value; seafood chowder is a popular choice, and if you give a 24-hour notice, you can try the crayfish. Reservations are strongly recommended in the busy summer season because there are so few places to eat in these parts. Renowned winter buffets draw the local crowd in on Tuesday night.

    26 Elgin Terr., Oban, Southland, 9846, New Zealand
    03-219–1059

    Known For

    • Excellent pub grub
    • Ultimate local hangout on the island
    • Gets crowded year-round so reservations are a good idea
  • 14. Thai Hanoi

    $$$

    This Thai-Vietnamese fusion spot offers options like green or red Thai curries and a yellow or jungle (hot) Vietnamese curry. The Rialto Cinema is across...

    This Thai-Vietnamese fusion spot offers options like green or red Thai curries and a yellow or jungle (hot) Vietnamese curry. The Rialto Cinema is across the way, making this a convenient pre- or postmovie dinner spot—but reserving a table is a good idea.

    24 Moray Pl., Dunedin, Otago, 9012, New Zealand
    03-471–9500

    Known For

    • Authentic curries
    • Centrally located setting
    • BYOB policy

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch weekends
  • 15. The Kitchen Table Cafe & Bake

    $$ | Coffee

    At this centrally located café and bakery, artisan bakers craft delicious wholesome food. You can choose from, pancakes, French toast, or good old eggs Benedict...

    At this centrally located café and bakery, artisan bakers craft delicious wholesome food. You can choose from, pancakes, French toast, or good old eggs Benedict for breakfast, or maybe a panini for lunch. Mindful of vegan taste buds and those with lactose and gluten intolerances, the owners have created a gooey brownie as well as a variety of other sweet treats. Large windows throw light into the warm and homey interior, while chunky wooden furniture encourages conversations.

    111 Moray Pl., Dunedin, Otago, 9016, New Zealand
    03-477–0232

    Known For

    • Cozy atmosphere
    • Some of the best coffee in town
    • Sweet treats and baked goods at reasonable prices

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner
  • 16. The Rocks Restaurant Bar

    $$$$

    You could easily walk past this stylish place, tucked inside a shopping courtyard. The kitchen employs bounty from the nearby bush and sea paired with...

    You could easily walk past this stylish place, tucked inside a shopping courtyard. The kitchen employs bounty from the nearby bush and sea paired with inventive sauces and sides. Share a "rummage board" (tapas-style plate loaded with seafood, chorizo, olives, cheese, and crusty bread) with friends while you ponder the menu. Terra-cotta, brick, and river stone give off an urban-chic-meets-Tuscany vibe.

    11 Courville Pl., Invercargill, Southland, 9810, New Zealand
    03-218–7597

    Known For

    • Exquisite dining experience
    • Specializing in steaks, fish, chicken, pork, venison, and lamb
    • Tuscany-inspired decor

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 17. The Speight's Ale House

    $$$

    Authentic and quirky, the Ale House serves as a lively bar in a brewery–restaurant setting. The menu includes a "drunken" steak (steak marinated in dark,...

    Authentic and quirky, the Ale House serves as a lively bar in a brewery–restaurant setting. The menu includes a "drunken" steak (steak marinated in dark, malty porter) and beer-battered fish, along with plenty of Speight's ales you can match with your meal. Heavy wood furniture, old brewing equipment, and a huge schist fireplace makes the place feel welcoming. A couple of seasonal beers are released each year; in the past, these have included Harvest (an apricot beer), Chocolate, Samradh (a ginger-and-pimiento beer), and Spiced Amber Ale. You can order a "tasting try" to sample all the beer offerings which include Triple Hop Pilsner, 5 Malt Old Dark, Distinction Ale, Cider, and Summit Lager.

    200 Rattray St., Dunedin, Otago, 9016, New Zealand
    03-471–9050

    Known For

    • Hearty meals featuring southern New Zealand fare
    • Lively atmosphere
    • Fine local ales including seasonal brews
  • 18. Ziff's Café and Bar

    $$$$

    This enormously popular restaurant on the way to Oreti Beach (past the airport) is a local favorite. Ziff's does steak, blue cod, chicken, and pasta,...

    This enormously popular restaurant on the way to Oreti Beach (past the airport) is a local favorite. Ziff's does steak, blue cod, chicken, and pasta, and customers love the home-smoked salmon and the venison hot pot. The establishment provides a free courtesy shuttle from Invercargill and environs, so you can indulge in their excellent wines and cognacs, too. Breakfast is served until 2 for late sleepers.

    143 Dunns Rd., Invercargill, Southland, 9879, New Zealand
    03-213–0501

    Known For

    • Generous servings of simple but tasty cuisine
    • Late breakfasts
    • Local atmosphere
  • 19. Anarkali

    $
    Closed Permanently

    Once named Ananda, Anarkali has retained the same chef and still serves the authentic Indian vegetarian thalis (meals made up of several small individual servings)...

    Once named Ananda, Anarkali has retained the same chef and still serves the authentic Indian vegetarian thalis (meals made up of several small individual servings) served on traditional metal platters. You can choose from (in order of ascending size) the Prince, Rani, Raja, or Maharaja thali. Anarkali is best suited for lunches and early dinners. Although it has a liquor license, you're welcome to bring your own bottle.

    365 George St., Dunedin, Otago, 9016, New Zealand
    03-477–1120

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch Mon. & Tues., Credit cards accepted
  • 20. Apsara

    $
    Closed Permanently

    The Asian community in Dunedin includes a Cambodian enclave, which has spawned a few noodle shops. Inexpensive filling soups are available for lunch and dinner...

    The Asian community in Dunedin includes a Cambodian enclave, which has spawned a few noodle shops. Inexpensive filling soups are available for lunch and dinner here.

    380 George St., Dunedin, Otago, 9016, New Zealand
    03-477–4499

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed down, No credit cards

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