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Best Places to Eat in the South Island

Posted by Kiwi Experience Crew on 28 February 2020

New Zealand food is tasty and satisfying. With a focus on fresh, local food, our reputation as a foodie heaven is growing! You really are spoilt for choice when you visit New Zealand. From the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island, your taste buds will be able to experience every kind of food you could imagine. As our saying goes “embrace the unexpected.”

The South Island, in particular, is known for its amazing seafood, famous burgers and lakeside dining. Along your South Island road trip, you won’t be disappointed! We’ve created a list of our top places you must try when travelling in the South Island. The great part? You can experience any of these amazing places while you are on one of our Small Group Tours or a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Pass.


Best Places to eat in Queenstown

Yonder Queenstown


  • Where to find it: 14 Church Street, Queenstown, Otago 9300
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian and vegan friendly, gluten-free and dairy-free options
  • Opening hours: 8am till late daily
  • In a nutshell: Insanely gram-able and delicious eats and live events

This amazing place is situated on Church Street. If you like bright, colourful and fun food with décor to match, you must wander into Yonder. Whether it be for brunch or dinner, this place has it all. It was voted one of the top brunch spots in Queenstown!

Their brunch menu is packed with amazing options, from classics like avocado on toast to drool-worthy smoothie bowls. A fan favourite would have to be the raspberry and pistachio French toast. Makes us hungry even thinking about it. And its presentation is totally Instagram worthy. In fact, make sure you check out their Instagram account for food-pic inspiration. Yonder has a killer dinner menu that will leave you spoilt for choice, with live music and events running Thursday through to Saturday nights.


Ferg Burger


  • Where to find it: 42 Shotover Street, Queenstown 9300
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian friendly, gluten free options
  • Opening hours: 8am till 5am daily
  • In a nutshell: You haven't really experienced Queenstown without a Fergburger

If you haven’t heard of this place, you must’ve been living under a rock. Situated in the city on Shotover Street, you’ll know you have found it when you see a long queue out the door and spilling onto the street. That’s how popular it is. It’s a great burger joint with heaps of options.

Order the classic Fergburger with cheese for a prime New Zealand beef patty with lettuce, tomato, red onion, aioli and tomato relish, or opt for something a little more adventurous like a ‘Sweet Bambi’. Don’t let the name put you off! It is wild Fiordland deer, brie cheese, along with boysenberry and caramelised onion chutney. The combination is absolutely fantastic and definitely not one to miss. Top tip! If you’re blessed with good weather when you visit, we recommend grabbing your burger and walking down to the lakefront to enjoy it as you take in the gorgeous scenery, a ‘must-do’ when you’re visiting beautiful Queenstown.


Stratosphere Restaurant Views

Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar

  • Where to find it: Skyline Queenstown, Brecon Street, Queenstown 9300 (take the Gondola to the top)
  • Special diet friendly?: Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan options
  • Opening hours: 11:30am - 9pm daily
  • In a nutshell: A fancy feast with unbeatable views of Queenstown

If you want to have an amazing dining experience with a view to match, then you have to visit Stratosfare Restaurant & Bar. You will be wined and dined with incredible views overlooking Queenstown and the surrounding mountains. To get there, take the Skyline Gondola to the top, snap a pic of the incredible view and then get ready to enjoy a beautiful seasonal buffet. There are so many delicious things to choose and drinks to compliment the array of cuisine with international influences.

Reservations are essential but you can go for lunch or dinner – either way, the view will not disappoint, with tiered seating ensuring every seat has a great view. You’d be forgiven for getting distracted from your meal as you soak in the breathtaking scenery that encapsulates the restaurant, but if you can drag your eyes away you’ll be able to catch the expert chefs preparing dishes at interactive cooking stations. Make sure you try the seasonal seafood including the fresh sashimi, as well as the never-ending salad bar and flame rotisserie. Leave room for the dessert bar too! You’re spoilt for choice. The Skyline Gondola & buffet is an included experience on our South Island Small Group Tours.


Best Places to eat in Kaikoura

Kaikoura Seafood BBQ

Kaikoura Seafood BBQ

  • Where to find it: 40 Fyffe Quay, Kaikoura 7300
  • Special diet friendly?: Gluten-free options
  • Opening hours: 10am till 6am Sun- Fri, 10am-3pm Sat
  • In a nutshell: The freshest seafood prepared before your eyes from this humble food truck

This little place is an incredible seafood haven that you do not want to miss on your South Island road trip. Fun fact: the name Kaikoura in Maori means to eat crayfish (“kai” meaning to eat, “koura” meaning crayfish), and this is absolutely the place to do it. Known for its immaculate seafood, and ranking high on the Lonely Planet’s ‘Ultimate Eats’ list, this humble little place does not disappoint.

Choose your own crayfish (lobster) and have it prepared fresh in front of you, or enjoy a Kiwi classic; the whitebait fritter. It is a very well-known New Zealand delicacy that you just have to try. This is a popular spot to relax and unwind on one of our South Island tours after a day of whale watching or visiting the nearby seal colony. Soak up the sun and view whilst devouring some of the best seafood New Zealand has to offer.


Coopers Catch

Coopers Catch

  • Where to find it: 9 West End, Kaikoura 7300
  • Special diet friendly?: Limited vegetarian options
  • Opening hours: 9:30 am - 12 am daily
  • In a nutshell: A kiwi classic ‘fish’n’chips’ experience in a gorgeous setting

Another great little place in the beautiful Kaikoura is Coopers Catch. If you want fresh fish with amazing sides, you’ve come to the right place. A popular spot with locals and visitors alike, Coopers Catch has a huge range of affordable fare from fish to burgers to mussel patties. Make sure you head here when hungry, the serving sizes are generous!

Our top picks are the local fresh fish of the day with some crinkle cut chips (fries for the American’s out there), and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, their chocolate doughnuts are incredible. If you get the chance to go fishing on your travels in Kaikoura, Coopers Catch will even fillet your own fish for you so you can eat straight from the sea. How perfect and Kiwi is that?


Best Places to eat in Christchurch

Smash Palace

Smash Palace

  • Where to find it: 172 High Street, Central City, Christchurch
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian and vegan friendly
  • Opening hours: 3pm-9pm Sun-Tues, 3pm-10pm Wed-Thurs, 12pm-11pm Fri-Sat
  • In a nutshell: A craft beer bus and burger bar in the heart of the garden city

This bar takes its burgers incredibly seriously. And we can see why – they are amazing! Prior to 2011, this bar was known as ‘Goodbye Blue Monday’, which was unfortunately lost in the Christchurch Earthquakes. True to the resilient Christchurch spirit, they rebuilt and rebranded in Victoria Street for a couple of years before relocating to where they are now, in the bustling High Street. It is a very community centred hub and you can feel the love that’s been poured into this business.

Head to Smash Palace to enjoy the wide selection of local craft beers and delicious burgers and sides. With everything from the burger buns, chutney, patties, pickles and sauces made from scratch on-site, even the simplest cheeseburger is a taste sensation. There are lots of meaty options, and if you’re touring with Kiwi Experience then you’ll want to check out the ‘Kiwi’ burger with beef, beetroot, egg, cheese, mayo, lettuce and a gherkin, yum! There are veggie and vegan options if you prefer something more plant-based, enjoy your burger with a side of onion rings and one of their canned craft beers. If you’re lucky enough to be in Christchurch on a Thursday, their Thursday Bike Nights are world famous and are for anyone who is automotive-inclined.


Pot Sticker Dumplings

Pot Sticker Dumpling Bar

  • Where to find it: 144 Lichfield Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian and vegan friendly
  • Opening hours: 11am till late
  • In a nutshell: A steamy little dumpling spot worth seeking out in the city

Situated in the city centre on Lichfield Street, this is a very authentic dumpling bar. A perfect place to visit with new friends, Pot Sticker has cosy booths for a few or long tables for a big group. Orders are placed by filling in a dumpling form (how cool?!) and passing to waitstaff who then deliver the goods right to your table in bamboo steamers for you to demolish.

Our picks would have to be the steamed pork buns and the huge array of dumplings to choose from. We honestly couldn’t pick a favourite. There is a flavour for everyone. This is definitely worth visiting after your walk through the city on our Christchurch street art trail which is an included activity o all of our South Island Small Group Tours.


Dimitris Greek Food

Dimitris Greek Food

  • Where to find it: 6 Riccarton Road, Riccarton, Christchurch
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian and vegan friendly, gluten-free options
  • Opening hours: 11 am - 8 pm daily
  • In a nutshell: An iconic and authentic greek treasure

This little Greek place is in two great locations in Christchurch. One is in Riverside and the other is their HQ along Riccarton Road. Why should you visit Dimitri’s? It’s become a bit of a cultural icon in Christchurch and is the place to go when you’re feeling peckish. Their speciality is Greek souvlaki, which is a fresh warm pita bread filled to the brim with tender grilled meat and other fillings and sauces, usually with a handful of fries tucked in there too - amazing! There are different meat and vegetable options so you definitely won’t have a problem finding something that you like. Trust us, you will be happy with the full flavours in every bite.


Best Places to Eat in Wanaka

Res Star Burger

Red Star Burger Bar

  • Where to find it: 26 Ardmore Street, Wanaka
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian and vegan friendly, gluten-free options
  • Opening hours: 11:30 am - 9:00 pm daily
  • In a nutshell: A Wanaka institution slinging delicious burgers

Situated on Ardmore Street, this is a great burger joint! A short walk to the lakefront, you also have the option to take your meal away and choose a spot by the lake, enjoying the view as you enjoy your meal. On those cold days and nights, the cosy joint is lit up with fairy lights and music is always cranking. Our top pick is the chicken satay burger but Red Star loves experimenting so if you spot the specials board you’re in luck, as there’s bound to be an interesting burger on offer. Pair any of the burgers with a delicious craft beer – they have a great selection! They say to follow the locals because they know where the good food is, this place is no exception.


Federal Diner

Federal Diner

  • Where to find it: 26 Ardmore Street, Wanaka
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian and vegan friendly, gluten-free options
  • Opening hours: Mon, Sun 7 am–4 pm, Tue-Sat 7 am–10 pm
  • In a nutshell: A hidden alleyway gem where you’ll find the locals

This place always feels like the hub of Wanaka when it comes to food, locals and just enjoying good old catch-ups with friends, family and workmates. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner so you could stay all day if you wanted to! This place is total #brunchgoals, we love their range of house-made goodies but can’t go past ‘The Fix for Breakfast’. Say hello to coffee and maple peanut butter with banana on fresh ciabatta bread. Just wow!

The local team is always super friendly and the coffee is insanely good. It’s the perfect place to get away from the busy Wanaka waterfront, curl up and write in your travel journal or scoff a fresh pastry or try one of their Wanaka-famous scones after a big day of adventuring. Enough said. This is a spot you gotta hunt down when in Wanaka!


Eriks Fish and Chips

Erik’s Fish & Chips

  • Where to find it: 54 Ardmore Street, Wanaka 9305
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian options, gluten-free options
  • Opening hours: Mon, 12:00pm- 9:00pm daily
  • In a nutshell: A classic kiwi food experience done well in Wanaka

Is there anything better than setting up a picnic by the lake or on top of a breathtaking mountain with the best fish and chips in town? We don’t think so. Erik’s Fish & Chips is the epitome of awesome. Their food truck is down on Ardmore Street; a stone’s throw away from the lakefront. They do the classics well here; enjoy golden battered fish with a scoop of crunchy hot chips. If you’re after a bit of a sweet treat then you have to #EmbraceTheUnexpected and try their deep-fried kiwifruit. Sounds weird but trust us, you won’t regret it. Wander down to the lakefront or if you’re feeling more adventurous, pack all the picnic essentials and climb Roy’s Peak for a breathtaking lunch or dinner.


Best Places to Eat in Lake Tekapo

Astro Cafe

Astro Cafe

  • Where to find it: Godley Peaks Road, Lake Tekapo 7945
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian and vegan friendly, gluten-free options
  • Opening hours: Summer: 9.00am - 6.00pm (road closes 5.30pm) Winter: 10.00am - 5.00pm (road closes 4.30pm)
  • In a nutshell: The world's best views with a side of caffeine, please!

This incredible café is located at Mt John’s Observatory, looking down to the Mackenzie Basin. The view is out of this world and you can see for miles. Lace up your walking shoes and hike the 45 minutes to the top, then sit back and reward yourself for your efforts before heading down again. Astro cafe is the perfect spot to enjoy some great food and coffee. With glass panelling all around, you don’t have a chance to miss the exquisite views whilst you enjoy refuelling. Our favourites are the carrot cake and the Saturn themed coffee. Out of this world (pun intended)! 


Blue Lake Eatery

Blue Lake Eatery and Bar

  • Where to find it: Main Road, State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo 7999
  • Special diet friendly?: Vegetarian friendly, vegan options, gluten-free options
  • Opening hours: 8 am-9 pm daily
  • In a nutshell: A cosy spot near the lake with something for everyone

Located in the heart of Lake Tekapo Village, Blue Lake is open and welcoming in all seasons. For dinners or a late lunch, they also have a diverse range of wines, craft beers and speciality cocktails, making it the perfect place to hang with your Kiwi Experience mates. They’re known for their incredible pizza, but they serve a huge variety of fresh local food so it’s hard to go wrong here! Their food definitely looks like it has just jumped out of the pages of a food magazine, and their dessert selection is impressive, to say the least. Be sure to pop by when you’re in Lake Tekapo.


Ready for a foodie tour of the South Island?

Drooling at the thought of visiting these cool spots? Jump on an award winning Kiwi Experience bus and take your tastebuds on tour! Choose your own adventure with our Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Passes or trip around with your future besties on a Small Group Tour. Pack your stretchy pants and big appetite and book a tour today.



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