36 Best Restaurants in Upper South Island and the West Coast, New Zealand

Hopgoods & Co.

$$$$ Fodor's choice

Chef–owner Kevin Hopgood focuses on using regional produce and regularly wins national restaurant awards for this small, eponymously named bistro-restaurant. Along with the à la carte menu, Hopgoods offers a five-course degustation tasting spectacle, plus an ever-changing two- or three-course bistro-style menu on Monday and Tuesday. This dinner spot is likely to be busy, though the service is always attentive and discreet.

Matheson Cafe

$$$$ Fodor's choice

The food at this all-day café is great (a huge breakfast menu, burgers at lunch, beef rib eye, and lamb cutlets for dinner) but the scenery steals the show. If the weather plays ball you'll be able to enjoy a memorably stunning view: an amphitheater of mountains (Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman) and, in the foreground, tall kahikatea forest. Lunches include salads, curries, risottos, burgers, and bagels while evening has the classics: pork belly, rib-eye steak, salmon, Merino (lamb) leg, and pastas are served.

Monteiths Brewing Company

$$$ Fodor's choice

They started brewing beer on the West Coast right here in 1868, and now the modern version of the brewery offers a full restaurant, a brewing museum, brewery tours and, of course, lots of fresh brews. The restaurant serves standard Kiwi fare, along with tapas and platters to match the beers. The brewery tours (NZ$35 includes tastings) will be in the hands of an expert brewer. You can also get your own, personally labeled bottle (NZ$10).

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Mussel Inn

$$$ Fodor's choice

Swing by the Mussel Inn for a quintessential slice of Golden Bay life: music, craft beer, and darn good pub food. Locals come for the live music (most evenings in summer), mussel chowder, steamed mussels, or goat curry, washed down with house-brewed beer and ciders. A favorite is the Captain Cooker—brewed first from native manuka leaves by Captain Cook to combat scurvy on his ships.  With rough sawn timber, handmade furniture, outdoor fire pit, and a big rambling garden, it’s very much a "Kiwi woolshed meets Aussie farmhouse" feel here. 

T.O.A.D. Hall

$$ Fodor's choice

At this café, shop, and produce market in a former church, enjoy breakfasts of French toast, free-range eggs Benedict, or free-range eggs cooked any way you like. Then stock up for your holiday travels from the food market. Or you can just chill over a wholesome lunch like the excellent slow-roast lamb burger. There's also an interesting kids' menu, and you can indulge in the cakes and berry ice creams anytime. Beverages include fresh brews from the Townshend Brewery next door. Weekend dinners in summer feature music performances.

The Alice May

$$$ Fodor's choice

One of those cozy, buzzing places so prevalent on the West Coast, The Alice May serves country fare that is good and plentiful, with a welcome range of light meals (fish-and-chips, curries, venison burgers) and more substantial main courses (slow roasted pork belly, beef cheeks, and good vegetarian options). The wine and beer lists are stacked with mainstream NZ favorites. The Alice can get very busy over summer. Courtesy car available on request.

The Store at Kekerengu

$$ Fodor's choice

This big, indoor–outdoor café–restaurant overlooking a rolling surf beach on State Highway 1 makes one of the best road stops in the area (maybe even the whole country). You can choose lunch from a selection of prepared dishes or order from the menu. You'll find it halfway between Kaikoura and Blenheim. It's a beautiful, wild spot with the Kaikoura Mountains towering in the background. There's a huge log fire inside and a large outdoor deck with several private garden areas. Just make sure you stop early because it usually closes by 4 pm.

5748 State Hwy. 1, Kekerengu, 7371, New Zealand
Known For
  • location with wild coastal views and sprawling gardens and lawns
  • classic fish-and-chips
  • outdoor deck to enjoy the view while eating
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No dinner, Reservations essential

Theatre Royal Hotel Kumara

$$$ Fodor's choice

The owners spent years restoring this old pub, and now the place hums with activity and tasty food. Locally cured bacon, venison patties, wild (bush) pork sliders, house-made pies, and salads all vie for attention on the breakfast/brunch/lunch menus. Bar snacks and baked goods are offered all-day, and dinner steps up with a stylish à la carte menu. Riders from the local cycle trail will be staying here; there's also a great local scene with live music and community events.


A friendly and very stylish eatery, Arbour is innovative and critically acclaimed yet so laid-back and hospitable. The quality produce is matched with quality local wine. Owners Bradley and Liz have brought their international, five-star hospitality experience to Arbour, just out of town on the way to the airport. The decor is simple yet sophisticated, and the garden comes into its own in summer. Various menu options vary from small plates to three, four, and "many" degustation-style courses.
36 Godfrey Rd., Renwick, 7272, New Zealand
Known For
  • degustation-style option for chef to create entire menu for you
  • dining in the kitchen alongside the chef
  • great desserts
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.--Tues. and Jul. No lunch

Beechwoods Cafe


Lots of wholesome breakfast and lunch options, hot snacks, and sweet treats are offered here. Some popular choices include the snapper (fish) sandwich, Beechwood burgers, and real fruit ice cream. This is a great place to stock up for your rafting or hiking efforts, and they manage the passing crowds well.

32 Waller St., Murchison, 7007, New Zealand
Known For
  • popular stop for bus passengers so gets crowded
  • classic highway café
  • nice selection of to-go foods

Blue Ice Café


Head here for quality New Zealand dishes and a bar that can carry you to the wee small hours of the morning. This place can become a late-night party spot during the tourist season. Franz Josef is small enough to walk from most accommodations to dinner, but if you do want a courtesy car, these people bring out their very own stretch hummer (for dinner only).

5 Main Rd., Franz Josef, 7886, New Zealand
Known For
  • lamb shanks
  • huge salads
  • party hotspot
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch May–Oct.

Cafe Cortado


South American and Mediterranean influences are paired with top Marlborough wines and craft range beers at this prime waterfront spot with a laid-back atmosphere. The fresh breakfasts will sufficiently fuel you up for a day out on the Sounds. Cortado, a family-run restaurant, prides itself on its sustainable practices.

Café Encounter


Here's a bright outdoor eatery sharing space with the Dolphin and Albatross Encounter operations and a gallery/shop. Food is available off the all-day menu or from the cabinet; breakfasts and light lunches are appealing; and their cakes and slices are always tempting. The partially glassed-in courtyard is sheltered in most winds, and there's plenty of indoor seating. As at any outdoor café in Kaikoura, don't leave your food unattended because the birds will snatch it quicker than you can say "seagull!"

96 The Esplanade, Kaikoura, 7300, New Zealand
Known For
  • waterfront views
  • house-made baking
  • big breakfasts before you hit the sea in pursuit of dolphins and seabirds
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No dinner

Café Neve


This standout along Fox Glacier's main street sparks up no-nonsense options with fresh local flavors, such as the Neve pizza topped with mozzarella, ham, bacon, pepperoni, tomatoes, and pineapple. From breakfast and on to lunch and dinner, the menu is big and varied, taking you through eggs Benedict, BLT sandwiches, soups and chowders, burgers, chicken, pizzas, and rib-eye steak—just what you need after a day exploring or driving. Everything is prepared on-site (muffins recommended). The wine list has only New Zealand vintages, and the beers are boutique. 

37 Main Rd., Fox Glacier, 7886, New Zealand
Known For
  • New Zealand--focused wine list
  • veranda dining to watch the tourists
  • varied menu of NZ classics
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Reservations not accepted

Courthouse Cafe


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. Their big breakfast and eggs Benedict will set you up for a trip to the beach or Farewell Spit or Heaphy Track. Look also for the fresh muffins and panini, the pies and pizzas, and daily blackboard special. The coffee is good, too. There are indoor and outdoor tables, but it gets packed in summer.

Denniston Dog


This old bank building is loaded with local character in its current guise as a cheerful pub and gathering spot. If the coal-mining heritage of this town interests you, you will enjoy the memorabilia and photos on display. They serve good Kiwi food here, anything from breakfast and brunch to light meals to kids' meals to stone-grill steaks and seafood. The meals are hearty, and it's a very kid-friendly spot. There's a big covered courtyard for summer dining.

Dodson Street Beer Garden


In this cheery beer garden–restaurant, hearty ales and craft brews are matched with traditional German cuisine, pizzas, gourmet burgers, and Kiwi fare. If beer is your focus, you can also get a beer-tasting tray. It's not all about wine in Marlborough, but yes, there is also a good range of wines. There's also a good kids' menu. This can be a busy venue, especially when the locals are here for a big rugby game or music gig, so think about booking your table ahead of time.

DP1 Cafe


Homey hospitality and a great vibe in this colorful, retro-style spot comes with house-cooked breakfasts (scrambled eggs are as good as you'll find anywhere), lunches, and baked goods. Plus, the outlook over the Grey River is terrific.

Hakuna Matata Cafe


Every town needs a darn good café, and this one is Blenheim's. The breakfast menu runs all day on the weekends, with all the standard Kiwi options like hotcakes, eggs, and muesli. The menu offers fresh, simple food for lunch, with plenty of wheat- and gluten-free options, as well as an impressive tea and coffee menu. Try the smoked chicken Caesar salad. Locals love this place, with its sharp, almost industrial decor.

Jester House Cafe


The locally sourced, mainly organic food at this funky place includes a raft of home baking, chutneys and dressings, and hearty country fare like chowders and salads. There's cozy indoor seating, and tables dotted throughout the garden and veranda. For the kids there's a small playground, an enchanted forest, and some extremely tame eels that can be hand-fed (September–May). This eclectic establishment makes no apologies for being open only on Fridays 10 am–10 pm. Down in the back garden, the Boot B&B has comfy accommodations for couples.

Le Café


Sitting outside Le Café on the waterfront you can look right down Queen Charlotte Sound and watch the local boats and the big Cook Strait ferries coming and going. Staffers source organic, local, and free-range foods wherever possible—your fish was probably landed on the wharf at the end of the street and, if it's beef, they reckon they know the farmer. Casual meals, coffee, and baking are available all day before dinner kicks in; that's when the tempo at the bar picks up and live acts perform regularly.



Regional, artisanal produce is showcased at this upbeat, all-day café that’s been around for more than 20 years. Wholesome breakfasts, lots of in-house baking, and a tasty lunch menu are the stars here. Try the Nashville Hot Chicken. You can dine in the spacious indoor areas or on the terrace, and enjoy the changing exhibitions of emerging local artists.

Pancake Rocks Cafe


A little café open daily, Pancake Rocks serves a full breakfast, lunch, and (in summer) dinner menu. This place is famous for it all-day pancake stacks and gourmet stone-oven pizzas, the cabinet food is delicious too. There's also a small gallery/gift shop here, selling quality New Zealand souvenirs, including jewelry. The staff copes well given the hordes that can arrive here.

PortSide Bistro & Bar

There’s a huge range of fare on the menu here, be it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Breakfasts are served until 3 pm, and coffee and cake are always ready on the go. Light lunch choices include salads, burgers, and lots of seafood, and the dinner menu showcases salmon, venison, and rib-eye beef. They're especially proud of their signature fish-and-chips on Friday. You’ll be dining with the locals here.

Raupo Cafe & Restaurant


Be it coffee and French pastries for breakfast, mussels and clams with a glass of wine for lunch, or a full à la carte dinner, the European chef and owners at Raupo will indulge you. Meals are light, healthy, organic, and locally sourced when possible. The restaurant is of a striking glass, wood, and stone design, and it sits on a small bend in the Taylor River. You can sit on the terrace in summer or cozy up to the fireplace in winter. The mezzanine floor offers a more private dining experience.

Rivers Café


Good food and good coffee is served every day in a welcoming, rustic setting. It's hard to find, tucked around a corner, so it's mostly frequented by locals and those in the know. There's plenty of room and free Wi-Fi,  with hours extending a touch in summer.

Riverside Café


Sprawling gardens make the perfect surrounding for this rambling, 160-year-old, colonial cottage where the menus are built around organic produce, which is all sourced locally, including from the Riverside Community, which owns and operates the café and its own farm. Menu choices range from stylish restaurant fare to French bistro-style with a range of salads and cakes. Sit indoors or on the big verandas, and enjoy the artwork that surrounds you. If you're interested in the workings of this community, established in 1941 by Christian conscientious objectors, you're welcome to take a closer look. The café sits right by the Great Taste Cycle Trail. 

289 Main Rd., Upper Moutere along Inland Hwy., Lower Moutere, 7175, New Zealand
Known For
  • breakfast until 3 pm
  • country ambience
  • outdoor seating
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No dinner Sun.–Thurs.

Scotch Wine Bar


This contemporary-style wine bar and restaurant (with a wine shop next door) offers evening dining with tapas plates and some larger main courses. The menu changes weekly to encompass the freshest and most seasonal produce. The wine list is one of the largest you'll find in any Marlborough eatery, while cocktails and craft beers are also in good supply. On summer nights the tables spill onto the public square outside—grab a beanbag for comfort.

24-26 Maxwell Rd., Blenheim, 7240, New Zealand
Known For
  • cool black booths and brick decor
  • shared plates
  • 500-plus wines offered from temperature-controlled cellar
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sat. and Sun. No lunch

Seumus' Irish Bar


This place definitely has the classic Irish bar vibe. Irish locals confirm they pour a good Guinness, plus there's lots of live music; it's not all Celtic, but it will get your toes tapping regardless. You'll find the bright red pub a short walk from the waterfront and it's open until the wee small hours so it's a great spot to wait for the late-night ferry.

25 Wellington St., Picton, 7220, New Zealand
Known For
  • classic Irish pub menu
  • beef burgers and fries
  • Sunday roasts
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues.

Speight's Ale House


The bistro-style menu here includes the signature whitebait (seasonal September through to November) and blue cod, along with the usual steaks, lamb, salmon, and mussels. In addition, the ales of the famous southern brand, Speight's, flow in the stylishly restored interior with shiny, bold copper vents contrasting against the wood and brick decor. There are also bar snacks and a kids' menu. The restored brick building, opposite the town's railway station, is one of Greymouth's originals.