South Island restaurants

Top Choice Seafood in Nelson

Cod & Lobster

Stellar cocktails and NZ's biggest selection of gin make Cod & Lobster's corner bar an essential destination, but this heritage space also serves up excellent food. Unsurprisingly, seafood is the main focus, so …
Top Choice Cafe in Papatowai & Around

Whistling Frog Cafe & Bar

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 pizz…
Top Choice Modern NZ in Ruby Coast & Moutere Hills

Boat Shed Cafe

Look past the slightly odd location – the cafe's waterfront pavilion is reached by travelling through the Mapua Leisure Park – and focus on views of nearby Rabbit Island and a menu combining diverse international in…
Top Choice Cafe 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 a…
Top Choice Modern NZ in Nelson

Hopgood’s

Tongue-and-groove-lined Hopgood’s is perfect for a romantic dinner or holiday treat. The food is decadent and skilfully prepared but unfussy, allowing quality local ingredients to shine. Try the duck breast with che…
Top Choice Modern NZ in Kaikoura

Green Dolphin

Kaikoura's consistent top-ender dishes up high-quality local produce including seafood, beef, lamb and venison. There are also lovely homemade pasta dishes. The hefty drinks list demands attention, featuring excitin…
Top Choice Cafe 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 inspir…
Top Choice Gastronomy in Oamaru

Riverstone Kitchen

A riverstone fireplace and polished concrete floors set the scene for a menu that's modern without being overworked. Much of the produce comes from the extensive on-site kitchen gardens (go for a stroll, they're imp…
Top Choice Cafe in Alexandra

Courthouse Cafe & Larder

Fairy lights and bounteous botanical displays dispel any lingering austerity in this stone courthouse building, dating from 1878. The counter groans under the weight of an extraordinary array of baked goods (cakes, …
Top Choice Tapas in Wanaka

Kika

The baby sister to Francesca's has grown up fast, vaulting within just a year of opening to become the only Wanaka eatery named among New Zealand's top 100 restaurants in 2017. It's a Mediterranean mix of modern Ita…