Best restaurants in South Island

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Papatowai & Around

    Whistling Frog

    Colourful and fun, the Frog is the best dining option in the Catlins, offering craft beer on tap and crowd-pleasing meals, often garnished with flowers from the garden. We're talking seafood chowder, wood-fired pizza, gourmet burgers, craft-beer-battered blue cod, and veggie feeds like risotto and big salads. Excellent coffee and breakfast spreads, too. Ribbit!

  • Restaurants in Wanaka

    White House Restaurant & Bar

    This curious restaurant is, well, yeah, in a house – a white one – looking as though someone dropped a casual eatery into the lounge room of an art-deco home. The ever-changing menu ranges through a selection of bruschetta and the likes of lamb with puy lentils, or linguine with surf clams.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Stewart Island (Rakiura)

    Church Hill

    Top-notch nosh is prepared at this friendly restaurant, making use of home-grown veggies, house-made pasta and Stewart Island/Rakiara seafood, such as mussels, crayfish and salmon. Dishes like paua ravioli, muttonbird and watercress dumplings and hāngi -baked kumara bring local flavours together in refined modern style. During summer the heritage villa's sunny deck provides hilltop views, in cooler months there's an open fire. Bookings advisable.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Arrowtown

    Amisfield Bistro & Cellar Door

    Put yourself in the very capable hands of the kitchen wizards at this stylish vineyard bistro; simply inform the waiters of any dietary restrictions or aversions you might have and strap yourself in for whatever the chefs choose for you that day. The focus is on local produce, including foraged ingredients, presented in whimsical ways.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Queenstown

    Fergbaker

    The sweeter sister of Fergburger bakes all manner of tempting treats – and though most things look tasty with 3am beer goggles on, it withstands the daylight test admirably. Goodies include inventive pies (such as venison and portobello mushroom) and breads, filled rolls and a sugary wealth of sweet treats. If you're after gelato, call into Mrs Ferg next door.

  • Restaurants in Queenstown

    Tatsumi

    Since losing its original business in the Christchurch earthquakes, Tatsumi has brought its blend of traditional and modern Japanese 'tapas' to central Queenstown. The service is exemplary and the food consistently excellent, including gorgeous sashimi platters, delicate squid-ink-tempura calamari and crispy kara-age chicken. Set menus of signature dishes, and indulgent dégustation dining, are also offered.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Christchurch

    Riverside Market

    Central Christchurch's new essential destination for travelling foodies is this superb multi-level market combining fresh produce stalls with opportunities for eating and drinking. Many of Christchurch's most popular food trucks are represented, making the market a good one-stop option for great coffee, Greek souvlaki, Argentinean barbecue and Japanese ramen noodles. There's also a craft beer filling station and bar.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Arrowtown

    Aosta

    Everything at this elegant restaurant is designed to be shared, from the cicchetti (Venetian-style bar snacks) to the pasta and substantial secondi (mains). Highlights include crayfish dumplings, wild thar polpette (meatballs), goats' cheese tortellini and inventive salads. We're also fond of the big, bubbly light fixtures over the bar and the white flying saucers illuminating the tables.

  • Restaurants in Arrowtown

    Saffron

    Walking into Saffron is like stepping out of town, with its formal, clean-lined setting providing a contrast to Buckingham St's gunslinger appearance. Expect lamb, wild boar and fish, with both the portions and the soundtrack having a bit more spunk than you might expect from the setting.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Moeraki

    Fleur’s Place

    There's a rumble-tumble look about it, but this tin-and-timber fishing hut houses one of the South Island's best – and most popular – seafood restaurants. The straightforward, scribble-covered decor mirrors the simple, clean handling of the food. Tuck into fresh shellfish, tender blue cod and other recently landed ocean bounty. There's a smokehouse on-site and you can try mutton bird here too. Book ahead.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Arrowtown

    Chop Shop

    Perhaps the tables are a little tightly packed, and the open kitchen does take up half the space, but we're splitting hairs. This place is uniformly fabulous (and uniformly popular) – from the internationally inspired menu (pork dumplings, Turkish eggs, smoked pork-hock hash) to the interesting decor (pressed-tin bar, cool wallpaper, chandeliers made from bicycle wheels and chains). Great coffee, too.

  • Restaurants in Nelson

    Hopgood’s & Co

    Hopgood’s relaxed approach to service and gastro-pub feel seem a little at odds with the hefty prices, although the bistro menu (two/three courses $49/59, served Monday to Wednesday) lessens the pain somewhat. The food is deftly prepared but unfussy (roast duck, merino lamb), allowing quality local ingredients to shine. The five-course tasting menu ($95) affords the full Hopgood's experience.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Franz Josef Glacier

    SnakeBite Brewery

    SnakeBite's flavour-packed meals awaken taste buds after their long slumber through the West Coast's lamb-and-whitebait menus. Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Chinese and Japanese dishes all feature, along with burgers and pies. Try the mussel fritters with wasabi mayo and, the speciality, the beef-cheek rendang. Between courses, glug craft beers on tap or a 'snakebite' (cider with beer).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Christchurch

    5th Street

    Global influences punctuate the shared plates menu at this recent opening south of the city centre. The honey- and chipotle-fired chicken goes well with beers from Christchurch's Three Boys Brewery, while the pomegranate-glazed lamb shoulder partners with vegetables enlivened by hummus, garlic and feta. A serious approach to cocktails also makes 5th Street ideal for a drink and snacks.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Christchurch

    Earl

    Mediterranean flavours are presented with flair in Earl's spacious dining room. Combine slow-cooked lamb and smoked yoghurt with a quinoa salad or mix it up from the shared plates menu including charcuterie, grilled octopus or fish crudo. The Eat like an Earl option ($60) presents the chef's favourites, while the concise wine list highlights a few different local producers each week.

  • Restaurants in Christchurch

    C1 Espresso

    C1 sits pretty in a grand former post office that somehow escaped the cataclysm. Recycled materials fill the interior (Victorian oak panelling, bulbous 1970s light fixtures) and tables spill onto a little square. Excellent coffee, eggy brekkies and bagels are available all day, while sliders (delivered via retro pneumatic tubes!) and burgers combine with craft beer later in the day.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Nelson

    Harry's Hawker House

    Step into a dimly lit room imbued with the glamour of old Shanghai and order a Singapore-style cocktail before delving into a menu filled with delectable dishes inspired by the street food of China and Southeast Asia, such as beef-cheek rendang roti rolls, pot stickers and curries. Don't miss the chicken laksa dumplings; the master broth they're served in is extraordinarily good.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Timaru

    Oxford

    This sophisticated corner restaurant honours its 1925 building with stylish monochrome decor and a feature wall commemorating the day Timaru went bust. The menu offers high-class comfort food, starring local produce like venison, beef and salmon, while an alluring drinks list encourages you to pop in for pinot and cheese, or a glass of sticky wine alongside golden syrup pudding.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Invercargill

    Batch

    Large shared tables, a relaxed beachy ambience, and top-notch coffee and smoothies give this cafe its reputation as Southland's best. Delicious counter food includes bagels, generously crammed rolls, cheese scones and great salads, along with full-blown brunches and cakes that are little works of art.

  • Restaurants in Motueka

    T.O.A.D Hall

    This fantastic cafe serves excellent breakfasts and lunches such as salmon hashcakes, lamb burgers, pies and some good vegan options, then stays open late on weekends for bistro-style meals and, in summer, live music. Also on offer are smoothies, juices, baked goods and selected groceries. Beer and cider are brewed on-site by Townshend Brewery and served in an adjacent taproom.