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. Herzog

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    One of Marlborough's finest dining experiences is found at the Hans Herzog Estate, tucked away along a short side road leading down to the Wairau...Read More

  • 3. Hislops Café

    $$$ | Café

    This wholesome foodie café is a local institution, a few minutes' walk north of town and worth the trip. In the morning you'll find tasty free...Read More

  • 4. Hopgoods

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Nationally recognized chef Kevin Hopgood focuses on local produce and regularly wins national restaurant awards for his cooking. Try the Pure...Read More

  • 5. Theatre Royal Hotel Kumara

    $$$ | New Zealand

    Even though it's a 20-minute drive from either Hokitika or Greymouth, on the main State Highway 73, this popular spot draws locals from both...Read More

  • 6. Arbour

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    This friendly place suggests you stop in for a small taste and a drink before catching your flight at the airport down the road. If you do,...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Blue Ice Café

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    The decor isn't amazing, however the two levels here can carry you from an early dinner through the wee hours. Go downstairs for a fine meal...Read More

  • 9. Café Affair

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    This busy city restaurant is a favorite with both locals and travelers looking for a quick-but-substantial meal. Morning options range from...Read More

  • 10. Cafe Cortado

    $$$ | Café

    With a blend of South American and Mediterranean influences, tapas, seafood, and pizza are paired with top Marlborough wines and craft range...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Cafe Home

    $ | Café

    Pop in for brunch, coffee, or lunch. The breakfast menu runs all day on the weekends, with options like hotcakes or toasted cranberry and orange...Read More

  • 13. Café Neve

    $$$ | New Zealand

    This standout along Fox Glacier's main street sparks up no-nonsense options with fresh local flavors, such as the pizza topped with locally...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Denniston Dog

    $$$ | Café

    This old bank building, complete with a vault, is loaded with local character in its new guise as a cheerful pub and gathering spot. If the...Read More

  • 16. 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

  • 17. Fords Restaurant & Bar

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Dining here is great throughout the day. Breakfast might be fish with tatties and house-made hollandaise or a carnivore’s mixed grill delight...Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. Harrys

    $$$ | Asian

    Asian cuisine is the focus at this local favorite, with an accent on Thai. Chilli-salt squid served with herb and sprout salad is a popular...Read More

  • 20. 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

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