Fine Dining in New Zealand

New Zealand is topping off many holiday and travel makers lists for a number of reasons. Fantasy like Middle-Earth scenery, from snow-capped peaks, to rushing rivers, crystal clear lakes and ancient forests, the scenery of New Zealand is unlike anywhere else in the world. 

But there is something else that has people flocking from around the world and New Zealanders travelling their country top to bottom, the food. New Zealand has some of the best produce in the world, so the standard of food is very high, with a range of dining in each major city, from quality casual pub meals to 5-star restaurants. New Zealand has around 15,000 kilometres of coastline, so naturally, seafood is at the top of every restaurant’s menu, with world-famous fish and chips, crayfish and muscles. New Zealand also goes to great lengths to farm and fish. Crayfish is a favourite among locals at Kaikoura, with Nins Bin, a local landmark, offering the freshest crayfish. Sometimes the best food doesn’t come in a fancy 5-star restaurant. 

Nins Bin is a small food truck on the South Island north of Kaikoura and south of Waipapa Bay, with the Tasman Sea right on its doorstep. It is a 20-minute detour from the already fantastic seafood restaurants of Kaikoura, but it is certainly worth it. Operating since the 1970s it has been owned by the same family and serves the freshest crayfish possible. While not cheap, you certainly get what you pay for. With a unique atmosphere of park benches right on the water, it is unlike anywhere you’ve ever eaten. It is certainly worth a detour if you’re on the east coast of the South Island.

Māori hāngī

Next, after crayfish, New Zealand would have to be most famous for its salmon. Over half the world’s production of king salmon comes from New Zealand. Also known as the Chinook salmon, you will find it in almost every seafood restaurant in New Zealand. Known for its versatility in the kitchen, the salmon is fantastic raw, smoked, grilled or fried. For the full salmon experience, you can’t go past High Country Salmon, located near the centre of the South Island on the banks of Lake Ruataniwha, between Christchurch and Queenstown. High Country Salmon offers fresh lake-to-plate salmon, with the added benefits of a café and catch-a-fish experience. If you are looking for a traditional (and very expensive) salmon dish in a 5-star restaurant, The Grove in Auckland has been consistently cited as one of the country's best restaurants. The Grove is situated at 43 Wyndham Street, in St Patrick’s Square.

It’s very easy to be on the seafood diet in New Zealand; they just do everything so well, but taking a break from the ocean, New Zealand lamb is well worth going for a land-based cuisine. New Zealand lamb is one of its top exports. Roast lamb will be on the menu of most restaurants and pubs around the country. A great lamb in restaurant experience is Orphans Kitchen, located in Auckland on Ponsonby Road, inside a Victorian federation-era villa. The restaurant specialises in serving the best produce in a pure and simple way and cooked with world-class chefs. Orphans Kitchen is all about practical food done well that is sustainably sourced. You can find restaurants in America and Europe serving New Zealand lamb from the South Island, but when you’re right next to the source, it would be a shame not to take advantage in enjoying  the incredible, versatile dish in its native country. 

Rack of lamb

Some other dishes worth trying are Green-Lipped mussels, abalone, scallops, oysters, and fish-ok anything that comes out of the ocean. Others include New Zealand cheese from Kapiti Cheese and the Puhoi Valley. Finally, why not try the Maori Hangi, a traditional earth cooking style where meat and vegetables are cooked underground by naturally geothermal pools. Rotorua is perhaps the most famous region for this style of cooking, with the region alive with geothermal activity.

Paired with this food is New Zealand’s booming beer and wine industry. With internationally awarded wineries and breweries. The most famous wine regions are Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago. Boutique wineries, craft beers, and unique spirits can be found on both islands.

So when dining in New Zealand, crayfish, salmon, and lamb should be at the top of your culinary experience, paired with a glass of your favourite.

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