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Eating in New Zealand -- South Island


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  • 4 weeks later...

Great to see that you are visiting our city.

A few recommendations; all within walking/short taxi ride distance of central city would include:

Breakfast:

Cafe Roma (Oxford Terrace)

Honeypot (Lichfield Street)

Bohemian Cafe (Cambridge Terrace, I think)

Lunch:

If you are going to the Arts Centre (old University) then either Le Cafe or Le Bon Bolli would be good options. (We look forward to our new art gallery opening on May 10 which is right next to the Arts Centre.)

The 'Strip' is a collection of eateries on Oxford Terrace offering a variety of menu styles. (I would suggest better for lunches than dinner)

Dinner:

'Simos' (Cashel Mall just down from Ballantynes) has recently opened. Excellent Morroccon food. Say Hi to 'Simo' for me.

'JDV' (Aikmens Road) Very interesting dishes, excellent combinations of flavours.

'Tiffany's'. (Cnr Durham St Sth) They will really look after you; Excellent service and interesting dishes.

Hope this is some help ......... would be interested to hear about your experiences down here.

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  • 10 months later...

My family and I are moving to NZ (likely Invercargill) from the US soon for a year+ sabbatical.

I was hoping that any Kiwis out there could give some advice on what are the best culinary products to look for and where to find them. What are the great bargains? Also, what items are unavailable that we might commonly have in the US?

We are really excited about this and I am just trying to be mentally prepared for what I may find in the markets.

Ka pai

Henry/Geekdoc

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Invercargill on sabbatical???

You will want to make an extensive study of Bluff oysters! Don't miss the toheroa (a dark-fleshed shellfish) season - though sometimes the supply is not enough for the season to open at all. Other seafoods from elsewhere in NZ are scallops, smoked eel (and many other smoked fish), and green-lipped mussels, which NZers eat by the sackful.

Also take your sweaters, your long undies, and your raincoat...New Zealand houses are usually not centrally heated, and Invercargill has plenty of old-fashioned houses.

The southern and western part of the South Island has a cool, wet climate. That means drizzle year round...but spectacularly lush green farmland on the limestone areas round Invercargill, and thick bush on the steep mountains that run down to the fjords on the west coast.

Invercargill is also not too far from Te Anau, which offers some of NZ's best skiing -- enough different slopes that the notoriously changeable weather rarely makes all slopes unskiable. (Island weather means that moist marine air can make snow icy very quickly).

From Invercargill, you might want to go to Stewart Island. Dunedin and Invercargill are (surprise!) very Scots in their heritage, but where they are Scotty, the Stewart Island population is just plain dotty.

Invercargill is not rich, because every now and then a government thinks they'll move a few unemployed people down there and see if they feel like working at the aluminum smelter or on the fishing boats...but behind all that is a prosperous farming community, so while isolated, it is not dead....but get a car if you can, because you will need your own rugged transport to enjoy life there. Second hand cars are notoriously expensive in NZ, but you can also resell a car of any age! A car will enable you to visit the coast, check out penguins, seals, fossils...visit inland goldmining areas...go skiing...)

Food....the farming industy there is mainly sheep and some of the biggest abattoirs and freezing works in NZ are there...meat is cheap and of good quality (I had the misfortune to interpret for a party visiting all NZ's abattoirs once...I remember every one of them!). Most people eat strictly Brit-style meat and 2 veg for dinner. However, South Island cheese is of better average quality than in the North Island....

Food is cheap in NZ, but manufactured products are not. If you plan to cook, you might want to take a few favorite kitchen items with you...not electrical equipment, of course, as NZ uses 240v supply.

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Well they threw some stunning choices at you didn't they!

But anyway ... I think you will grow to appreciate the 'uniqueness' of any one of those locations.

As far as our food goes I would suggest to Helen that we have matured in the culinary sense over the past number of years and the 'meat and two veg' approach is the reserve of the terminally culinarily challenged. Immigration has added to our multi-cultural mix of restaurants and ingredients available. I can't think of anything that you would not be able to source if you yearn for the tastes of 'home'.

You can look forward to:

Bluff Oysters

Nelson Scallops

Cervena (farm raised venison)

Lamb (can't remember the last time I saw 'Mutton')

Excellent farmed Salmon

Excellent cheeses

Great stone fruit (2 hours north of Invercargill)

Quality vegetables (including organic produce)

The list goes on ....

Festivals ... you just missed the Wild Foods Festival in Hokitika (just south of Greymouth on the West Coast) and the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival... coming up are the Organic Food Festival in Oamaru, the Bluff Oyster Festival and numerous other food and wine related events through the year all around the country.

If you choose Invercargill, you are within 2 hours of some of the best Pinot Noir producers in the world. You will also be in the heart of 'Speights' country .... "Good on ya mate"

You could even grow to love Marmite, Hokey Pokey, Lamingtons, ANZAC biscuits, Pavlova, Scones, Pikelets, Pies, Fish n Chips on Friday nights, Pineapple Lumps, Feijoas, Pumpkin as a vegetable and not in a pie, Hangis, Barbies, Cribs, Kina, Paua, Belgium, Tea and all of those other little 'Kiwi' foodie bits 'n pieces that make us 'unique'.

I could go on and on ......

We look forward to having you stay with us down here .... and hey .... we've even gone and moved the bathrooms inside them houses now and installed some o dem new fangled electric stoves :biggrin:

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It's true that I'm out of touch, though I spend a month or two in NZ most years. Because I mostly visited the South Island interpreting for agricultural or fisheries business, I saw more of the hardcore rural culture and mainstream hotels than the midtown cafe culture.

I don't think that meat and 2 veg is a bad thing, not in a cool-climate agricultural society. The tourist triangle of Christchurch, Queenstown, and Te Anau (not to mention Nelson) has definitely grown up over the past 15 years, and I'm sure the experienced and innovative chefs in those areas (especially with the smaller, more exclusive lodges that started to appear in the 80s) have raised the game in other smaller towns too. It's a long time ago now, but negotiating the season's menus for tourists doing the main drag, and organizing business groups' events in smaller towns, I felt that rural South Island food WAS different from urban North Island food. Definitely not worse.

That was a yummy list of tummy-rumbling memories from Kiwi! Speight's beer! Mmmm! Though I don't care for the US-influenced lighter Japanese beers (Sapporo for me, thank you!), I know that some Americans find NZ beers too sweet and full. Just keep drinking...the smaller breweries don't just make good beer, these days they make an incredible range of styles. As for wine - definitely the best are the best, but they can be hard to get, even in NZ. The average daily drop might be more astringent than you are used to. When looking for cheaper wine, I find myself going for the more flavorful Aust/NZ wines and taking the tannin that goes with them, because the equivalent budget European wines taste thin and metallic to me...obviously just what I've got used to.

Put it this way -- in 2 months in NZ, I NEVER get to taste all the wines and beers that attract my interest.

Another personal southern favorite -- organic, whole-grain rolled oats! When our supplies of NZ oats and honey run out, the whole family starts eyeing the airline timetables...

Greymouth: still had a post-gold, post-coal, post-railroad era feel about it when I was last there. It sits below the Alps, on the most exposed part of the wild west coast, battered by the coldest seas, ready to take all the rain that the winds dump there before crossing the Alps...the obvious choice of location for that nice little murder movie, Bad Blood! It's beautiful, on its own terms -- I have clearer visual memories of the scenery of that area than of Invercargill or Wanganui. I believe Perfect Strangers was shot on the west coast too, but I have not seen it yet. Greymouth people pride themselves on being different and plainspoken, but if it all gets too different, the Tranz Alpine railroad will take you to Christchurch, and a solid half-day's drive will get you to Nelson -- a beautiful, sheltered area full of seafood, wine, fruit, art, music (hoping to get to the wooden flute festival there one day...), and full of people on jaunts from Wellington or Christchurch.

Wanganui...yet another spot on my All-Abattoirs Tour. Warmer currents and northern location mean it is of course much warmer than the South Island. The gardens and forest indicate how much more sheltered it is than the exposed west coast. Behind Wanganui, the hilly farms are still quite rough - check out another gloomy little movie, Vigil, to see the half-cleared limestone hill farms. The Wanganui River makes it a beautiful area. You will not see much of Maori culture in the south and west of the South Island, but Wanganui has always had a strong Maori community and my hazy memory tells me that the museum there had a very fine collection of Maori things.

Culturally, it reminded me pretty much of other smaller North Island towns -- being off the tourist track, it didn't (then, anyway) have the same class of food or service as smaller South Island towns. I have a friend who returns to his Wanganui farm religiously every year, and I think you would find a stable but open community there.

On the other hand, it's not even 3 hours' drive to Wellington, which is a very diverse city, and less than half that to Palmerston North, which Kiwis love to sneer at, because it is a flat, inland city - but it is also a university town with plenty of interesting people. Also not too far to North Island skiing.

The area south of Wanganui is a flatter, more agriculturally developed and diverse area, sure to provide you with plenty of eatables to choose from, but my information there is way out of date!

I know a Japanese to English sign language interpreter in New Zealand...there must be people in NZ who know American sign language, because of the conference business. In Japan a few years back, it was cool for teenagers to learn sign language as a secret language for in-class gossip!

I don't know which to recommend -- you can guess at the differences when you know that (VERY roughly) about one third of NZ's population live around Auckland, one third live in the rest of the North Island, and the remaining third live in the considerably larger South Island. Geologically, the North Island is much more volcanic, younger, with some limestone uplift. The South Island is pretty much a big hunk of greywacke booted violently up from below the seabed. That makes for two surprisingly different landscapes.

I'm from South Auckland -- what was once a staid rural dairying area supplying the city; and is now an area of light industry, public housing projects, and home to most of the area's Polynesian immigrants, interspersed with people looking for the cheaper end of the seaside suburbs. I don't miss the old ways -- I LIKE singing Christmas carols in Samoan, Cook Island Maori, Niuean, and English! (After all, I'm a translator.) I like it that church suppers include Samoan chop suey, Niuean fish salad...and cucumber sandwiches! I like being able to buy Indian snake beans, drinking coconuts, and local honey all at the corner shop. My local shopping center has more people splurging on Chinese take-out with their unemployment benefit than readers of Cuisine magazine (which really IS an excellent mag)...it's true that I'd have to go further afield to buy more upmarket ingredients, but good food of one kind or another is one thing that is always to be found in NZ, especially if you are willing to cook it yourself.

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If I had a choice of those 3 then Wanganui would win by a mile - why would anyone want to go to Invercargill - bleak , cold, wet. It's only redeeming features are its pretty near Milford Sound and lovely Stewart island an hour or so closer to the Antarctic. And greymouth!! The name conjors up perfectly the place.

Bail out of Invercargil and gets some relative warmth and sunshine up North.

Cheers

from an oz who goes to NZ often.

Cheers

paul

Edited by episyd (log)
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Top story in today's online New Zealand Herald was on Greymouth/Hokitika

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/

I'd have to agree with episyd that Wanganui would be the safest choice...but I guess you knew that. The thing that would likely surprise you is not so much the cold winters and cool summers, but the rainy winters -- makes winter seem much more miserable than the temperatures suggest, and the west and southwest of the South Island have particularly high rainfall, even for NZ. In Wanganui, you wouldn't need Canadian-level overcoats (except for southbound holidays), but you would need warmer everyday clothes than you imagine. Also, NZ has windy island weather, so even summer days can have a chilly breeze (but maybe I feel it more these days coming from Japan's sweltering summers).

You probably knew most of the remaining food terms anyway but...

Scones...like southern US biscuits, UK scones

Pikelets...a small griddle cake, bit thicker/stiffer than a pancake, definitely not as thick and big as a hotcake. Favorite starter project for kids learning to cook. Often served cold and buttered...

Pineapple Lumps....gerkkkk, can't see the attraction myself. Lumps of chewy pineapple flavored candy (smell reminds me of unwashed kitchen cloths...) coated in chocolate. Also Chocolate Fish, Fantails, Jaffas, Curiously Strong Peppermints...

Feijoas....a subtropical fruit which has become popular in NZ over the past several generations, has dark green fruits with a creamy white highly scented sweet-sour flesh, slightly pineappley scent. Originally south american, as is tamarillo, a very sharp-flavored deep red oval fruit (has many seeds, often unpopular with kids, but packs plenty of punch!). My kids have never tasted these, because we only go to NZ in winter on cheap airfares!

Hangis....much like Hawaiian style luau. Last time I tried to dig one in my back garden here in Japan I hit a gas pipe...

Cribs...South Island dialect for a small and simple holiday cottage, in the North Island usually called a bach.

Kina....sea eggs, sea urchins, usually eaten raw

Paua...a dark fleshed univalve, chewy, so usually minced into soups, fritters etc.

Belgium...??? Could Kiwi fill you in on this?

Survey of kids: they look forward to fat British style fresh sausages, flounder panfried for breakfast, wacky icecream flavors, lamb chops...and gravy made from a packet!!

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  • 6 months later...

PaulaJK, I haven't been there myself but if I were going and wanted to work out the best places to eat I'd use the Cuisine website in NZ. Here's the link to the specific page:

Cuisine magazine - NZ restaurant reviews

Also The New Zealand Herald does restaurant reviews:

The NZ Herald-restaurants

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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  • 3 months later...

Just got back from a few weeks in New Zealand. Food was not a primary consideration in planning the trip, so we probably missed out on lots of good spots, but we tried to have a few good meals as we travelled.

I didn't think about taking notes or getting menus from anywhere, so I can't provide a huge amount of detail.

White, Auckland (New Year's Eve) : New Year's eve was a set menu that probably wasn't worth the money. Service was fairly good, but didn't stand out. The progression on the menu was strange, with fairly hearty-sounding meat dishes for every course, along with fairly delicate fish preparations. It seemed like it would be hard to go back to fish once you started with the meat, so I went primarily with the fish choices. A tuna appetizer was excellent quality fish and a fairly nice preparation, although it had ingredients that neither my girlfriend nor I particularly cared for (avocado for me and dill for her). Crab tortellini was excellent--one of the standout dishes of the trip. Our beef main was quite boring. Dessert of summer strawberries and shortbread was good, but neither the strawberries nor the shortbread seemed very exceptional. Overall, a bit of a disappointment, but it may have been due to the nature of the evening.

MacFarlanes, Inglewood, Taranaki: Okay, a bit out of the way but really quite good. One of the few places that we really found ourselves wishing we could go back to. We only had lunch, which was a lot of standard cafe choices (although executed to perfection with high quality choices), but the dinner menu looks interesting. Emphasis on local produce. Good place, and not expensive. Definitely worth checking out if you're in Taranaki.

Herzog, near Blenheim: The best meal of our trip and an excellent restaurant by any standard. Aperitifs and tasty amuses in their lounge. Dinner in a lovely main room with an incredible view that is largely wasted at night--they do serve lunch on Sundays. Unfortunately, the only wines they serve by the glass are produced at the Herzog vineyards, but these were all quite good and made a nice pairing to our 5 course menu. (The by-the-bottle list is quite comprehensive and worldwide in scope.) Service was excellent throughout.

Gibb's (at Cairnbrae vineyard), near Blenheim: Another quality meal, although without quite the sophistication of the meal at Herzog. Service also quite good.

Twelve Trees (at Alan Scott vineyards), near Blenheim: Ate lunch here. Service somewhat inattentive, and the setup doesn't allow you to take in quite as much of the scenery as you might hope you could. Food was fairly good: about what I'd expect from lunch at a winery restaurant.

River Run, Wanaka: I think you have to stay here to eat here (do stay here if you are going to be in the area--it's great; perhaps the best place we stayed), although they might let you eat if you weren't and asked nicely enough. This isn't a restaurant in the traditional sense; more like a dinner party that you can buy your way into. Communal seating in the dining room; the people serving you may sit down and eat with you if the table's not full. Very very good food--second best on our trip (after Herzog's). Well selected, but short wine list. We had really beautiful scallops, with roe still attached--I've never seen that before, but it added a lot of flavor, and a leg of duck. Both were very good--slightly spicy sauce with the scallops was exceptionally good.

Waitiri Creek Winery, Gibbston Valley: Better than average winery lunch. The menu is short but interesting. Service isn't great because the servers do double duty in the tasting room. It's lovely and you can sit outside.

Blanket Bay, Glenorchy: You definitely have to stay here to eat here, and it's very very expensive. The food certainly isn't the reason you'd pay for the experience. Although the dining room is quite lovely (with the typical Blanket Bay astonishing view) and the service was very good, the food was only good. Nothing wrong with it, but it would probably fit in fine with a one star restaurant in New York. (As foodies, this may be part of the reason why we enjoyed River Run more than Blanket Bay, especially coupled with the large difference in price). 5 course menus. Soup, salad, starter, main, dessert. The salads were boring. The tomato soup the first night was not a whole lot more complex than Campbell's. Starters and mains were generally better, but at NZ $1300 a night (for the cheap rooms) it seems like this place should do better. They did have a strong (and reasonably priced) wine list. One night we had a bottle of Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir for $120. In the few other places we saw it, it was generally $150 or more.

Saffron, Arrowtown: Just had lunch here. It was quite good. Fairly good wine list. A lot of variety on the menu, from Medeteranean influences to Asian. Everything we tried was quite good, including the pad thai that my girlfriend ordered because she was craving ethnic food. Should have come back for dinner.

Wai, Queenstown: Their speciality was supposed to be seafood, but there didn't seem to be a huge amount of seafood selection on the menu, and nothing that appealed to me. Maybe that was my problem. Once again, there was nothing really wrong with the food, but it wasn't particularly good either. Also a remarkably sparse wine list for a place that advertises itself as a wine bar plus restaurant. (Admittedly, the range by the glass was fairly good.) This place came highly recommended and we looked at a lot of menus before settling on it. Based on our meal here and some other feedback, I'd guess that the best food in Queenstown is in Arrowtown at Saffron.

Winne Bago's, Queenstown: Not very good pizza. They have a lot of topping choices, though.

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  • 4 years later...

Coming over in a couple of months. :)

Places to eat?

Is it worth the drive to Kaikoura to get mussels?

Where in Dunedin? Breakfast? Lunch or dinner?

Where anywhere on the island! :)

We havent an itinerary yet, but its nice to know where the good eats are (at all price levels). It helps with the planning!

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Drive to Kaikoura...depends on the direction! Are you thinking of driving south from Nelson or north from Christchurch or east over the Southern Alps?

Mussels are probably better in Nelson or even Picton, but Kaikoura is the place for NZ crayfish (koura). Catching rather than eating is the main local activity,it's a one-horse town, but there are eateries.

The trip south from Picton/Blenheim would take you past the Saltmaking at Lake Grassmere.

Blenheim of course has plenty of wineries, and I am sure the area is very different from when I went through it with a Japanese TV crew, but the landscape is breathtaking, if monotonous. The land gets drier as you head out of the hills and through the plains to Christchurch, so you have the strangely opaque and chilly turquoise sea, and then the harsh grays and golds of the land leading through a haze to the purple of the mountains.

The west coast can be forbidding too, but it's wet and louring rather than austere and dry.

Dunedin - the best thing I ate there was wild game, especially venison (before it was farmed much), but of course, it's also a place to eat lamb cooked with due respect.

If it's cold enough, you might want to ask about outdoor curling and ice-skating in inland towns such as Alexandra and Balclutha. Although Queenstown is more fashionable, skiing may be better elsewhere, and small towns like Te Anau are good bases for fishing. The Red Cliff cafe in Te Anau has a good reputation. This site gives a fair idea of the type of produce to look out for in the southern South Island.

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  • 4 months later...

South, we landed at Picton and headed to the West coast at Westport.

We drove down the edge of the world, in at Haast, and eventually to Queenstown, Invercargill, Te Anau, Dunedin and Christchurch.

Gonna have to look up names and fix this post.

Breakfast at Dirty Mary's in Westport - huge enormous portions, interesting combinations. A small area with a few toys made the child happy.

Stopped in small town of _____ by the Fox Glacier for lunch at _________. Salad, soup, sandwich, bowl of chips. All were very good.

Had a good Pavlova in Queenstown.

Pizza in Invercargill at _________________. We were served by the owner - a young man quite thrilled to have his own restaurant. We enjoyed the meal & the gelato for dessert. Not great pizza, but a pleasant meal of good pizza with a very thin cracker-crispy crust.

We missed the Red Cliff in Te Anau :(. Our schedule was so tight we snarfed down tomato soup and cheese sandwiches in our motel room between returning from Milford and heading out to the glowworm cave.

Best lunch of the trip was at ____________ on the way from Invercargill to Dunedin. Again, an area with toys (and a friendly cat) improved the place greatly for the child.

Cadbury's for breakfast in Dunedin - took the first tour of the day. :)

(tho I like the other brand, _______________, better).

Sushi for lunch - cheap sushi is different from our local cheap sushi. For example, teriyaki chicken does not make it into california cheap sushi. It was interesting. I love the soy sauce fish. We dont get those either.

We wanted to have a proper sushi meal at some point, but that wasnt working out for the smallest member of the party. So be it. Next trip.

Indian take-out for dinner - we're not sure whether we liked the meal or the containers better. They may be our longest lasting souvenirs of this trip!

Along the road were many chicken places - some better than others, but none that we tried were bad.

In Christchurch, there was a street market, with attendant food stalls. German sausages, crepes, mini-pizzas built on flour tortillas as crust.

All tasted good. The child celebrated her birthday by eating most of my crepe suzette as well as her maple syrup crepe.

More tasty indian take-away for dinner, more great containers. This was Arjee Bhajee in Christchurch.

Tea at ________ near Auckland - our last formal meal of the trip. A good price and a decent cuppa in a lovely location.

What airport food? There's airport food? I dont think so. There's stuff you can put in your mouth to make your empty stomach stop hurting, but food? No. Its as bad as LAX.

Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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  • 1 year later...

We are heading to New Zealand and are wondering about uptodate information on dining in Queenstown, Christchurch, Blenheim and Wellington. We like all cuisines and are looking for places that the locals like: restaurants, pubs, etc.

Can anyone help here. We have two to three nights in each city. During the day we are on a wine tour with lunch provided at wineries.

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I haven't been down to Queenstown and Chch recently, but I can certainly help with Blenheim and Wellington.

Your wine tour may take in Alan Scott's and Hunter's in Blenheim, but if not they're both reliable. I don't think Alan Scott is open for dinner (he's great for lunch), but Hunter's is. We had a very nice evening there about three weeks ago - the elderly cat is very friendly! In the centre of Blenheim, try Raupo - good cafe-style food beside the river. I don't recommend Bacchus; its decor and food seem slightly stuck in the 70s. Nothing really wrong with it, but you can do better. That's the extent of my recent dining experience in Blenheim, but since the wine industry moved in the number of cafes and restaurants has blossomed. Top of the scale is Herzog, but I don't have personal experience of it. One day.

In Wellywood you have a huge choice. Top of my personal list is Martin Bosley's. Until last week I would have recommended the White House, but we weren't as happy with it last time as we have been before. If you're anywhere near the airport, the suburb of Miramar has two brilliant cafe/restaurants, The Larder and Cafe Polo, both open for lunch and dinner (and probably breakfast!). If you like that sort of thing you might find yourself eating beside film industry types from Peter Jackson's nearby production empire. There's another brilliant suburban restaurant, Elements, not far away in Lyall Bay.

In the city (bearing in mind the difference between 'at the airport' and 'in the city' is about 10 minutes), Featherston Street has a row of pubs - Irish and Belgian prodominate. My personal favourite is D4, upstairs on the corner of Featherston and Brandon Sts. One block north (towards the railway station) you'll find Arbitrageur, where we've had some very good dinners. And nearby on the waterfront is the newly-opened Foxglove which, depending on which part of the building you're in, is a restaurant with fantastic food, a pub, or a night club.

Courtenay Place is considered the 'entertainment district', but I tend to avoid it - I'm not 20 any more! But it has many more pubs, restaurants and clubs.

Just up the road, but much quieter, is Ambeli, which I heartily recommend. A tip: let the young owner Shae choose your wines for you. I've never had better food matches.

I could go on (many say I do!) but you may find this link helpful. Send me a PM if you have any specific questions. And enjoy your trip.

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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I haven't been down to Queenstown and Chch recently, but I can certainly help with Blenheim and Wellington.

Your wine tour may take in Alan Scott's and Hunter's in Blenheim, but if not they're both reliable. I don't think Alan Scott is open for dinner (he's great for lunch), but Hunter's is. We had a very nice evening there about three weeks ago - the elderly cat is very friendly! In the centre of Blenheim, try Raupo - good cafe-style food beside the river. I don't recommend Bacchus; its decor and food seem slightly stuck in the 70s. Nothing really wrong with it, but you can do better. That's the extent of my recent dining experience in Blenheim, but since the wine industry moved in the number of cafes and restaurants has blossomed. Top of the scale is Herzog, but I don't have personal experience of it. One day.

In Wellywood you have a huge choice. Top of my personal list is Martin Bosley's. Until last week I would have recommended the White House, but we weren't as happy with it last time as we have been before. If you're anywhere near the airport, the suburb of Miramar has two brilliant cafe/restaurants, The Larder and Cafe Polo, both open for lunch and dinner (and probably breakfast!). If you like that sort of thing you might find yourself eating beside film industry types from Peter Jackson's nearby production empire. There's another brilliant suburban restaurant, Elements, not far away in Lyall Bay.

In the city (bearing in mind the difference between 'at the airport' and 'in the city' is about 10 minutes), Featherston Street has a row of pubs - Irish and Belgian prodominate. My personal favourite is D4, upstairs on the corner of Featherston and Brandon Sts. One block north (towards the railway station) you'll find Arbitrageur, where we've had some very good dinners. And nearby on the waterfront is the newly-opened Foxglove which, depending on which part of the building you're in, is a restaurant with fantastic food, a pub, or a night club.

Courtenay Place is considered the 'entertainment district', but I tend to avoid it - I'm not 20 any more! But it has many more pubs, restaurants and clubs.

Just up the road, but much quieter, is Ambeli, which I heartily recommend. A tip: let the young owner Shae choose your wines for you. I've never had better food matches.

I could go on (many say I do!) but you may find this link helpful. Send me a PM if you have any specific questions. And enjoy your trip.

Thank you so much for your recommendations!! I am looking forward to checking them out. I had found a couple of them in my research.... Ambeli sounds great. We are having one of our group lunches at Herzog.

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I was in Blenheim a couple of weeks ago, and had lunch at Herzog; highly recommended.

For dinner, Gibbs is good; but it is out of town so you will need a designated driver or a group to share the (not small) taxi fare.

In Blenheim, I'd recommend a relatively new opening, "The Secret Garden" on Maxwell Road. I really wouldn't bother with Raupo; both the food and the service are quite bizarre and it can be a lottery as to whether they are open in the evenings or not.

Bamboo Garden is OK for Chinese/Thai/Japanese food, if you are looking for a change.

If you are staying in Renwick, then the "Cork and Keg" does good pub grub.

Unfortunately (as with many wine regions) there are few choices of decent places to eat; with the best meals being served in people's homes.

Itinerant winemaker

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Stop press: I was talking to my mother last night; Gibb's has had a fire. Their website doesn't say anything about it, but here's an item from the local paper.

They may be able to arrange alternative premises, but I wouldn't count on them being up and running any time soon. Pity - I didn't know about them, but the reviews look good.

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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Herzog still has very good food according to all reports I have heard. And not many people in NZ realise that 'clafoutis' does not mean any French-style tart that includes cherries, and even fewer know that a 'clafoutis' made with any other fruit besides cherries is called something else (e.g. 'flognarde').

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