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Eating in New Zealand -- North Island


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Anybody local to Waiheke? We will spend 2 weeks in December on the island and I am wondering were to get decent food (stores and restaurants). Or do I have to ferry back to Auckland?

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  • 2 months later...

I was there about a year ago, but unfortunately I can't comment on the restaurants there. I was only there a day and self catered. I was staying near Oneroa, so I walked to a market there to pick up some food. The fresh produce looked nice (I picked up some yummy kiwi fruit) but the rest of the stuff on the shelves was pretty lacking. The market was pretty tiny. I don't know if there's anything larger on the island, I think Oneroa is the largest town.

Waiheke was absolutely beautiful. I plan on going back in a few years. Enjoy yourself!

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  • 3 months later...

Anyone interested in seeing what we bottom of the worlders are doing with food, go check out www.menus.co.nz

Only two major cities represented at the moment, Auckland and Wellington.

Just choose which city, choose all from the drop down menu, click on the restaurant and then on ' Full Menu'.

I can vouch for 7 of the Wellington places! Monsoon Poon and Logan Brown are my absolute favourites. :smile:

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  • 4 weeks later...

I believe Rex Morgan is moonlighting as Advisory Chef to Air NZ's Biz and 1st Class. And Citron is a great little place to dine! Im sure Petit Lyon is still up and running, ( someplace else??)so many wonderful restaurants to choose from that one often forgets the tried and true!

Edited by Sentiamo (log)
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In regards to Petit Lyon, after the break up of the partnership of the Kent (?) and Alan Garner, I believe Kent(?) had trouble finding a chef to maintain the standard. There were many rumours about other problems but it closed its doors a good year ago. I know Alan Garner was at the Martinborough Hotel a little while back, and am sure he is still there.

Citron, has had rave reviews and I believe one of Rex's chefs that he left at Bouquet Garni won chef of the year, last year.

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  • 11 months later...

hello,

i have the great privilege of spending 14 days in new zealand at the very end of may and front side of june.

my sister has recently moved to wellington, so we'll be there (and environs) for much of the time, but are flying into auckland and driving to wellington via whakatane (to see white island). we've got at least a day between whakatane and wellington, plus 2 or 3 days in auckland - i'd love any advice - what can't we miss? - where should we eat? :smile:

near wellington - any recommendations on the wineries in martinborough? do they tend to be casual, or are appointments required?

we're on something of a budget, but hope to use the (slightly) favorable exchange to our advantage. i'd love recommendations from natives or travellers.

many many thanks in advance!

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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  • 2 weeks later...

travel blog from 2001 which covers a similar route.

Although I used to be an inbound travel agent setting up itineraries for the wackier end of the client range, I'm so out of date that I hesitate to comment on food.

The only thing I would suggest is...especially close to Whakatane and south, don't pass up places to eat in the hope of something better further on - the chances are that there won't be anything for a looooong way - same goes for toilet and gasoline stops :raz:

If you are lucky, this can be a very pleasant time to travel - schools are not on holiday, ski season has not yet begun in the North Island, and occasionally we have idyllic autumn weather in May (then again, sometimes we have storms...). The coastal route you are traveling will likely be windy, so bring warmer clothes than you think you will need!

The biggest city you will probably hit on the way south from Auckland is Tauranga, which is developing into quite a comfortable small city, but it's a pain to drive in and out of because of its location. Further south, the Whakatane/East Coast leg will take you through one of the more isolated areas in New Zealand, still heavily dependent on forestry (and so the land is too hilly for really rich farmland). You might be tempted to cut across the centre of the East Cape, but I'm not sure I recommend it - unless the road has changed, that's mostly old forest access roads and you will be more comfortable on the longer (and very beautiful) route round the coast - but ask locals for up to date info, please! There'll be plenty to see, and good seafood, but the food will likely be more rough and ready. Round the cape and south to Hawkes Bay, once you are south of Gisborne and in the Hastings/Napier area, you are starting to get into the territory of some of the wealthiest and longest established farming districts in NZ. There is plenty of wine and good food in this area, you won't have to wait till you get to Martinborough. However, I can't give you specific recommendations, sorry.

Wellington, so my sister who spent her university years there tells me, is much more sophisticated in Auckland, there's not a thing to do in Auckland that isn't much more fun in Wellington, etc etc - so go and prove her right or wrong for once and for all please!!! :laugh: I haven't been there in nearly 20 years, but back then, Asian cuisine in Wellington was booooring - there were plenty of other restaurants that sounded excellent, but as an interpreter for tours of the nation's abattoirs, sister city exchanges and what not, I never got to see them :sad: .

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Hi--

Fellow Seattleite here. I've been in Auckland for a couple of weeks, and am finding the food

delish--everything is remarkably fresh. Am here on business, so haven't strayed too far, but from what I understand, Parnell

and Ponsonby are the foodie districts. Had a particularly excellent meal at Rocco on Ponsonby Road last weekend. It doesn't look as if I'll make it to Wellington, which is a shame, as

everyone says its lovely. Enjoy! And do report back--

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thank you so much for the driving (and pit stop) advice helen, and pg - (with great taste in tea - i know you can be trusted) thanks for the advice - we'll plan to go to Rocco (any idea if they're open sunday evening?)

helen, i think we'll be more in wellington than anywhere else - so your sisters assertions are probably safe - true or not...

i will definitely report back. soooo excited!

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, welcome to New Zealand!! If you're flying into Auckland you are probably going to spend the first day recovering from the trip. There are lots of easy things to do in Auckland to help you recover - depending on the weather! If the sun is shining take a ferry to Waiheke Island and visit a vinyard or a beach - Stonyridge is a great place for lunch, or Mudbrick - another vinyard closer to the ferry. Or else just take a ferry to Devonport and walk around the waterfront - only 7mins on the ferry from the city. If you need feeding - stroll around the viaduct - where the Americas Cup was based, there are various restaurants and cafes to choose from - locals like Soul - you can sit outside if the sun is shining, food good, people watching fun. Other seriously good restaurants include The French Cafe, - closer to the city are O'Connell St Bistro, Prime, - and up in Ponsonby you can choose from Rocco, Chandelier - or if you want something more casual try SPQR or Prego. Actually, you can just trot along Ponsonby Rd and something will take your fancy.

Wellington has great restaurants - Logan Brown would be the no 1 choice, and probably the most expensive. There are 3 in Roxburg Tce - at the end of Courtenay Place - Roxburg Bistro, Castros - and another one I've completely forgotten the name of!!! My favourite restaurant in Wgtn is called Chow - next to a bar called Motel - sort of like a 60s dining room - dark, small wooden tables, sofas, great food - chinese - delicious!!! Noisy and fun. Wellington is a very easy city to get around it - small, and bars all at one end of the city (Courtenay Place), so can get very busy. - Especially if you go out after the rugby has been on. If you are in town when the Lions are playing the All Blacks you will have a great night out!!! Cheers!! PS - make sure you go to Te Papa - the museum - great exhibits

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Oh--

And keep an eye out for Kapiti ice cream. The manuka honey and fig is especially scrumptious. Wish there were a way to fill a suitcase with it and bring it back to the states....

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  • 3 weeks later...

back!

Julles - i was already there when you posted, but fortunately - i think i covered some of your calls.

first night - dinner at dine - peter gordon's new restaurant in the grand hotel across from skycity. wine markups in nz seem much lower than in the states. this is a good thing. don't recall what we drank, but we loved it. something from central otago. the food was good - a little over manipulated for my taste, but i would return. dinner was followed by a drink at bar lenin - for a passionfruit infused vodka that was absolutely luscious.

dinner and drink were followed up by a taxi to devonport and a stop at the (very closed) ferry terminal. we'd asked our driver to take us somewhere with a nice view. the tiny beach at devonport reminded us of our view of downtown from our west seattle neighborhood...a perfect place to get engaged. :wub::wub:

we went back to town searching for champagne, ended up (midnight on a sunday) back in the lobby of the grand, the staff of which could not have been more gracious or accomodating. in fact, i've never met such uniformly, unsardonically nice people in my life - everywhere we went we were treated so kindly.

incredible.

we ate lunch earlier in the day at a place called bar mezze - it's not on vulcan, but on an alley-street just parallel and upstairs. wonderful lamb meatballs, good bravas, disappointing tortilla and the best coffee i had in nz.

we decided to change our routing due to rumors of bad weather in the upper bay of plenty. so we flew to wellington.

we thought wellington was a very cool city. a lot like SF, a bit like Vancouver. We liked it better than Auckland in all ways except coffee-wise - so Helen - you can tell your sister that i'm on her side!

the food we had there was largely marginal - with a couple of exceptions...but i don't think that's wellington's fault!

the major exception was logan brown. we had lunch there. 2 of us had the $35 prix fixe and 2 of us ordered off the menu. the prix fixe were outstanding and absolutely knocked my meal out of the water. totally empty at lunch...

we had dinner on the water our last night in town...i want to say it was called shed? it was a holiday and many places were closed. the food was decent, but not great, desserts were terrible and the service was truly awful. our waitress was truly awful, and not nice. she was german. (no slam on germans intended, but i would like to point out that our streak of insanely nice kiwis was not broken)

went twice to the (famous?) chocolate fish, a favorite of my b-i-l. good sandwiches, panini and tea.

we spent an afternoon in martinborough, talking to the vintner at dry river - that was a wonderful experience, and then had lunch in town at pub...decadent wedges.

we flew down to blenheim to visit a couple of wineries and visit some friends of my sister. we ate nothing memorable in blenheim, including at the fancy hotel. the room was so cold, it was pretty miserable. actually - i take that back - we had an excellent kebab. :smile:

wonderful wine. hic. hic. hic. the woman who runs the tasting room at wither hills is incredibly nice. she drove us back to town, as rob and i were kind of stranded. we also visited seresin, villa maria, cloudy bay, and one other i can't recall. we had lunch at another i can't recall that felt sort of mediterranean. quite nice.

from wellington we flew to taupo and then rented a car. we drove up to rotorua and then over to whatakane. no memorable food there, except that if the lunch served by PeeJay's tour company (also a hotel, and cafe) was any indication - they make the best food in town. white island is also not to be missed. it's like a moon walk with stink.

after white island we wended our way north on the (as previously mentioned) gorgeous coastal route on our way up to the coromandel peninsula.

holy moly. sweet faced-sheep, rolling hills with grass so lush, shiny and verdant i wanted to eat it. add that to (empty!) beaches - including hot water beach, stunning walks - to cathedral cove, among others and *more* kindness...it was really almost too much. i loved whangamata (sp??)

the dinner we had at the local pub was not special - but there was a rugby game on, and we'd become slavishly addicted by then. what made it so special, aside from it's perfect size were the wonderful beach, amazing stars and a great (daytime only) bakery and deli all the way at the end of town. it's a woman's name. we had a chicken and brie panini for breakfast on the beach while grinning at the splendor. in general, the east coast of the coromandel was prettier in my opinion, and i was glad we stayed in whangamata instead of whitianga which was larger and not nearly as sweet.

the next night we stayed in coromandel town and aside from one perfect moment just outside of town with a magnificent view and sheep nearby - it wasn't wonderful. we saw a lot of deforestation around there, and even a huge controlled burn. necessary? no idea...just not pretty. in thames we had lunch at taj's curry house and had the best dal makhani i've had since chicago. it was early so his tandoor (!) wasn't on yet, but he made us some chapathis (not on the menu), which i thought was a lovely touch. the green peppers in the chicken were a little odd, but no matter - it was flavor! we were in tears due to spice...our tastebuds had grown thick and weary of fried food and braised lamb. the tears were joyous.

dinner that night (our last) was at o'connell street bistro. we got to drink our new favorite wine (mt. difficulty) and we are spectacular food - i far preferred it to dine. i have to say - we didn't sample the list nearly as much as we would have liked, but we were a bit tipsy already after the all blacks painful humilation of Fiji.

finally - our flight was late enough to allow us to watch the new zealand maori humilate the lions.

how's that for a ramble. i loved it there. next time - a month in a camper on the south island.

go blacks!

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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Congratulations!! You must have got engaged near my house, I live in Devonport - on the beach side away from the city . Your trip sounds great - there is great food in NZ, but you really need to be organised - O'Connell St is one of my favourites, it is just always consistent, good service, and you feel cocooned in that small space. The restaurant you went to in Wgtn and had a bad time is really one of those 'suit' restaurants, Friday night drinks.....etc etc, We haven't been to Dine, my daughter (15 and likes to read all the food reviews!!) wants to go, but I think it sounds overmixed, also I've never been keen on hotel restaurants - though the Hilton on the Wharf is always quite fun, but usually because there might be someone famous at the next table, we get a lot of incognito travellers down here!!Next time head to the South Island, the Barmy Army is down there at the moment, heading to Queenstown in their camper vans, from the last Lion's match in Dunedin on Saturday night. NZ is really crazy at the moment in terms of rugby, this Lion tour has really fired everyone up - my husband suddenly has business in the strangest of places.....wonder why he is flying to Christchurch this Saturday???? (answer - test match!!). Barmy Army is the name the English supporters give themselves, so I'm not being rude!!

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Barmy Army is the name the English supporters give themselves, so I'm not being rude!!

we saw some hilarious news coverage in auckland. Barmy Army spokesperson says something like, "these are upstanding devotees of sport not mere lager louts." at which point the camera pans to a shot of 40 drunken, red-faced englishmen/lions supporters shouting and clutching their pints...

we're seriously considering buying the package (replayed) of games...we'd get to see them all in a row!

thanks for the congrats julles. :smile:

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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  • 4 weeks later...

Looking forward to spending a couple of months in Auckland soon. My boys (11 and 13) have a couple of menus planned, mainly revolving around sausages and smoked fish, AND they insist that our first dinner in Auckland, as ever, must be fish and chips eaten on the beach as the sun sets over the harbour...

Budgetwise, that's about our level, but we like to hit a few restaurants and enjoy a few midwinter picnics and BBQs on our local beach too.

Any suggestions about places to try (especially south...the north shore is foreign territory for us!), or goodies to look out for?

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I ate recently at a restaurant in Parnell called, i think, Iguaça -- recommended as a 'good Auckland restaurant' by colleagues. It wasn't memorable, not awful but not super. I was there as part of a conference dinner, so the cuisine might not have been representative of normal quality.

-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

Syrup & Tang - candid commentary and flavourful fancies

"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

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  • 2 weeks later...

what area are you staying in?? Sounds like you are near a beach, and I imagine with small children you won't want to travel too far to eat. Ponsonby has a lot of restaurant/cafes, there are other areas - down at the viaduct harbour, Parnell, in the city. Are you planning on taking your kids out with you? We have one child who is not so keen on restaurant food, and one who is quite a foodie, so we tend to feed one on noodles or something easy before we go - at least then she doesn't feel like she is forced to choose from a menu where there is nothing that she wants - often just eats the bread or bits off our plates! Less stressful for everyone

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We're in South Auckland, and have precisely ONE walking-distance local eat-in place :raz: .

However, thanks to the southwestern motorway, we go in to town as far as Newmarket fairly often and without difficulty. We've tried various places along the Great South Road, such as the Japanese restaurant near the Lido theatre. We enjoyed everything except the sushi - even the sashimi was fine last time we tried, but sushi :hmmm: . Tried one of the Japanese restaurants in Newmarket too (up by the old pools), which was very nice, but so trendily dark that our kids burned themselves on the hot rocks their grilled beef was served on, trying to locate the food on their plates in the pitch-dark under-the-stairs "just for families" spot we were shown to. Our kids are now teen and pre-teen, so the only quibble I have with restaurant food is how much of it boys that age can get through!

However, it takes me twice as long to get from Newmarket into downtown or Ponsonby as it does to get from Sth Akl to Newmarket, so I'm easily discouraged from even trying. I notice from Iguaca's post that Parnell still seems to have its share of duds in among the famous names...Ponsonby used to be a much better place to just take your chances - wonder if that's still true.

There are a few places that serve reasonable food in the south, if you don't go expecting ambience as well as food :blink: , and even more cafe-style places that will serve most of their dishes to stay or to go. I'll be interested to see what can be found.

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If what you're looking for is at the cheaper, more substantial end of the eating scale, you might like to try Hansan - a Vietnamese Restaurant in Mt Wellington. It was recommended to us by some friends, so we gave it a go last weekend.

Really generous servings, and believe me it takes a lot to fill the hollow legs of my boyfriend. We spent less than $30 and had two appetisers and two mains - though my bowl of soup was more a bucket and I only managed to eat about half of it. Mains tend to be between $7-$9 so are definitely good value.

I particularly recommend the ribs, although they are more chopped up chop than rib. Shouldn't quibble, they were tasty, tender and crispy in all the right places. Huge variety of soups and noodle dishes, and some nicely strange drinks and desserts if your kids feel like doing the whole 'I can eat grosser stuff than you' bit. To my palette the soup, noodles and rice dishes tended to be underseasoned, but there's sauces and chili and so forth on each table, so you can go mad. And free tea, which is always a good thing.

Definitely the best value meal out we've had lately - our budget is fairly limited, so getting decent bang for the buck is always a major factor. The last few restaurants we've been to in town failed to make much of an impression and cost a lot more, so here's a vote for the cheap guys. And as an added bonus, the Silver Bell (Asian supermarket) is next door - great place to grab bargains. Almond Pepero... Mmm...

By the way, I used to live out in Manukau, and I totally commiserate with the lack of decent restaurants out that way (really don't recommend either Broncos or Guada by the way). You might want to give Botany a try, as there are a few good Asian and Indian spots out that way - at the very least the Cock and Bull does substantial food, if you don't mind pub grub.

Oh, and Malabar in Ellerslie does the best latte and most evil waffles (with banana, maple syrup and whipped cream, bacon on the side) if you're ever in need of a disgustingly unhealthy brunch fix. Highly recommended.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So far we haven't gone further than one South Auckland Thai Restaurant, "Thai Tradition", just off the motorway in northern Manurewa - it was good enough, reliable, pleasant, but the dishes somehow very similar.

However, we've recently discovered Mangere Bridge - a little detour on the route from City to Airport. Not only a couple of happily different choices for

take-outs, but an amazing range of nice places to eat them - on top of volcanic Mangere Mountain, beside the sheep at Ambury Farm Park, or gazing at the water anywhere along Kiwi Esplanade!

Son2 is getting a few top-up lessons from a local classical guitar teacher, who recommended that we try the newly-opened Perla del Sur bakery/cafe/takeout for sticky treats and Argentinian sandwiches and empanadas - they not only gave son1 and I a great reviving cup of coffee while we waited, easily the best I've had in South Auckland, but the sandwiches we bought there were perfect for a mountaintop dinner afterward - tasty, warm, satisfying, and not heavy or greasy. Thumbs up from picky son2, hollow-legs son1, and just-getting-over-a-tummy-bug Mum!

In future visits, I think we'll also try the kebab cafe next door (which looks as if it might be the former favorite haunt of recently deceased ex-PM David Lange).

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  • 1 month later...

I'm afraid you are not in the best part of town for eateries but I can give you some middle of the road must eat places.

Observatory, sky tower is buffet so a little cheaper and the restaurant revolves, great looking place.

Parnell is down the road from Newmarket my fave Jap restaurant is there called Nori. Also in Parnell, San Tropez, a reasonalby priced French restaurant.

All my chef peers dine at The Grand Harbour in the Viaduct for yum cha lunch regularly.

GPK Ponsonby for the best gourmet pizza's, also in Ponsonby, Joy Bong for upmarket Thai, or Thai house, a little bit cheaper.

Freemans Bay, Nishiki is a very busy Japanese place that focuses on hot food and is extremely resonable.

Yum! :raz:

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We're back in Japan now, but will take note for future visits!

I have been to the Sky Tower buffet in the past - it was OK, but surprisingly popular with our kids and guests because there was a good variety. Tried to take a visiting student this time, couldn't get reservations in either the buffet or the a la carte restaurant.

Instead I took my student to a small sushi place called Toki. The food that we actually got to eat was pretty good, but everything else about the place was terrible. Hardly anything listed on the menu was actually available, not even seasonal items, the services was abominably slow despite there being only one other table of guests, the waitress (wife??) of the chef forgot parts of what we ordered until 20 minutes after we had finished eating, and it took her an age to add up our tiny bill (what could we order, when they had nothing in stock?!) manually, with many re-starts. Son1 complained that he was hungrier than when we had arrived, so my sons and student ended up heading for the nearest Subway - what a ridiculous situation, and what a waste of a good chef!

We did manage our major food ritual - fish and chips on our local beach watching the sun go down over the sea!

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