Auckland & Queenstown
Will be spending a few nights in each of the above cities for the first time and we're looking for the three or four top rated restaurants in each location. We're visiting from California, so we actually have about all the mid-market Asian food you can imagine and we're looking for more NZ or contemporary cuisine. Seafood and lamb specifically, to go with the great NZ wines.
I've read the forum and it sounds like, in Auckland, the picks are Kermadec, and French Cafe, but in Queenstown it seems everthing I've read is for inexpensive eats. Nothing wrong with inexpensive, but we're looking for the "must not miss" places.
How about a list of your top 3-4 "high-end" places?
Thanks, and we're looking forward to visiting your beautiful country, drinking NZ wines and visiting with all the friendly folks.
I'm originally from Auckland and recommend trying Clooney in Freeman's Bay, Auckland. It's very close to downtown Auckland and has had some of the best reviews lately. It opened after I moved away, but all of my friends rave about it. A little pricey, but well worth the experience of dining on fine New Zealand food and drinking great New Zealand wines. It also just got runner up in the Best Smart Dining Category of the 2009 NZ Restaurant of the Year awards - http://www.cuisine.co.nz/index.cfm?pageID=38599&r=2
This might also be helpful - the nominations for NZ Restaurant of the Year and there are quite a few Auckland options as well as Otago (region where Queenstown is located) so you may want to check it out for some ideas - http://www.cuisine.co.nz/index.cfm?pageID=60374&r=0
One of my favorites on that list is definitely Rocco in Ponsonby Rd.
Also, I found this fun article in the New Zealand Herald today listing the top 50 things to eat in Auckland - you might find a couple of good ideas on there too:
Hope this helps and I hope you enjoy your trip to Auckland and Queenstown - you'll have an amazing time I am sure!
I am originally from that area of NZ so I can suggest a few that I know although I haven't been to most of them in a while. Also some of them are not in Queenstown but in the surrounding areas.
I think one of the best restaurants is actually a short drive out of Queenstown and that is the Amisfield Bistro (http://www.amisfield.co.nz/experiences/restaurant/overview).
There are two good restaurants in Arrowtown, Saffron (http://www.saffronrestaurant.co.nz/) and The postmasters house.
In Queenstown itself, you could try Botswana Butchery or The Bordeau Wine Lounge (http://www.therees.co.nz/wine-food/bo...).
Also you should not, that lots of restaurants in Queenstown are small and it is always wise to make a reservation.
A good lunch place is at Gibbston Valley Winery which is about a half hour out of Queenstown.
Otago Girl: We did end up eating lunch at Saffron in Arrowtown and it was great. Thanks for the tip, I never would have visited Arrowtown, but it turned out to be a charming little town. We ended up in Wanaka, but did eat at the Botswana Butchery (strange name). It was fine, but not terrific, and relatively expensive. We were in Wanaka five nights and I wouldn't rate any of the places we ate there as great, though because of the BYO policy we ate at Relishes twice and it was quite OK.