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Jan 12, 2011 11:30 AM

More suggestions needed - this time for NZ

Everyone has been so helpful with the first leg of our Australian trip that I thought I'd post again. today we fly off to Auckland, spend a few days there, then to Napier and then to Wellington, where we will have a home base for about 5 weeks. Looking for spots with great food but a comfortable enough atmosphere for our 4 year old daughter. She is well versed in restaurant etiquette and eats almost anything (I'm the problem - I am not a big red meat eater).
Also looking for winery suggestions, if you happen to have those.
Later we'll be doing a south island tour. My husband has been there before, so has some ideas, but any additional ideas would be very appreciated - both on the restaurant and winery front. I'm not a big fan of most NZ sauvignon blancs (not big on all that tropical fruit flavor).
Thanks in advance,

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  1. Hmmm. I'm a bit out of touch, but my recollection is that Cuisine publishes an annual wine guide magazine that it is very helpful.

    Near Christchurch, I had a very enjoyable meal at Pegasus winery. Nicely casual.

    Good restaurants at the Southern Otago wineries as well - Amisfield and Mt Difficulty are the two I remember.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mr_gimlet

      Thanks Mr. G. You truly are a font of information, and it is all appreciated.

      In Wellington we'll have a kitchen (although I have no idea what kind of equipment it has) so I'm hoping to cook 4-5 nights a week. Save us some money, and i do love to cook.

      1. re: LulusMom

        Cuisine is a must first buy when you arrive, if the Wine Country magazine is out then pick that up too.

        As far as Napier goes they have an excellent Farmers Market on Saturdays (not sur eif every week or not). I used to visit Diva in Havelock North (not sure if stil there or not now), also the chef who was there went on to Black Barn Vineyard

        As for must visit wineries, when in Napier ensure you visit Hawkes Bay, they do excellent wines, but something that many people won't have tried is their Syrah (Shiraz), really excellent, very white pepper. I am a big fan of Bullnose by Te Mata, but there are many others, if Stonecroft are open try them and also Unison for their Bordeaux Blends.

        Agree re Amisfield when on South Island, excellent cooking and beautiful setting

        Am sure will come to me soon!

    2. Hopefully you can still pick this up!
      Napier - there are literally hundreds of wineries - one of the main wine growing areas especially for Bordeaux style blends, but as another poster mentioned also for Syrah. Trinity Hills is really good - I also like Crab Farm - out on the flats by the airport, that were raised by a major earthquake in the 20's. Esq Valley is also good and solid. Haven't been down there for a few years so not sure what wineries have restaurants attached at the moment. Your 4 year old may like the water park down there. The aquarium may also be worth a look in.
      In Wellington you could check out Changi Roti - dirt cheap and serves curry/murtabek.
      Siam Reap also does really good thai food.

      1. In Napier today. Unfortunately it being a Sunday most places were closed, but we found a wine bar right near the water (in the art deco area) that was nice, and had some very nice hawes bay wines, including the Shiraz, which I thought was fantastic. the whites ... eh. But the shiraz was great. Tomorrow off to Wellington for a longer stay. 14 days on the road with a 4 year old doesn't do much for the mental state - bring on the wine!

        2 Replies
        1. re: LulusMom

          Excellent wine on route if driving, Martinborough has some stirling vineyards, Ata Rangi, Escarpment and Martinborough Vineyard all do some great wines, really good Pinot aorund this area, 2008 vintage if you can try it was particularly good, also worth a look (from memory) was Palliser and Alana Estate (Chardonnay)

          1. re: stanleyk

            Thanks Stanley. We're spending a few weeks in Wellington, and do plan to do a weekend visit to Martinborough. We've had some great wines from there on this trip.

            Had a nice meal at Chow two nights ago. Half the things we ordered we loved (the tofu fingers and a seared steak salad) the other two were just so so (chicken dumplings and scallops). Last night - our first home cooked meal in over 2 weeks (we're happy to have a kitchenette in the hotel!). It was much appreciated.

        2. Where on the South Island will you be visiting?

          3 Replies
          1. re: AntarcticWidow

            Don't have the exact itinerary with me right now, but Christchurch, Dunedin, oh man, my brain is a bit fried from all this travel. Basically making a tour to the bottom along the east coast, then back up the west and back across at wine country, if this makes sense.

            1. re: LulusMom

              If you are in the Queenstown area you really need to try the restaurant at the Amisfield vineyard. One of the best dining experiences (food, wine, location) I have ever had.

              1. re: LulusMom

                We were recently in Christchurch and can enthusiastically recommend Nobanno (Bangladeshi cuisine) and Chinwag Eathai. The Twisted Hop was a nice spot for a pint and less expensive nosh.

            2. We're just back from five years in Wellington. One of our favourite places. Here are some recommendations.

              Cafes: Astoria on Lambton Quay for excellent latte and v good french fries; Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay for good coffee, good good and a beautiful view of the South Coast; Kalamata Cafe in Karori on Gipps Street for Saturday brunch (try the currant buns); L'Affare for coffee.

              Restaurants/Cafes (on the casual side): Nikau next to the City Museum for coffee, sweets, lunch and weekend brunch; Trade near the Old Government Building.

              Nicer restaurants (but we still took our kids, esp for lunch): Matterhorn in Cuba St (plus great wine list and great drinks at the bar); Logan Brown further up Cuba Street; Ambeli (Majoribanks St around the corner from the Embassy Theater); Capitol (nearly next door); Martin Bosley's.

              Wineries in Martinborough (great day trip, especially on a weekday when everyone's at work): first, be sure to stop in Greytown for sweets and coffee at The French Baker and a mosey through the town, then off to Ata Rangi (lovely wines, especially the Pinot); Martinborough Vineyards; Alana; Daniel Schuster (with a very talkative Daniel himself often in attendance). We tend to prefer the silkier Martinborough style to the burlier Central Otago style.

              Hope you love Wellington as much as we did. Cheers.

              7 Replies
              1. re: kelewis

                Wow. Great list. Thank you so much. After four nights of cooking for ourselves, we're out to dinner again tonight. Husband taking a well deserved nap (he took care of Lulu this morning after me having dealt with her non-stop for 18 days - love her dearly, but that is a loooong time without a break with a 4 year old) but I'll discuss with him when he wakes. We had been thinking about the General Practitioner (or GP) or some Belgian place he's been to before a bit closer to the gov't buildings, but I'll see if he can be swayed. But anyone know anything about either of those two?

                Again, thanks so much. Definitely all very useful information.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  You might check out the local Kiwi restaurant review sites: and There are numerous diner reviews and ratings, and an indication of whether the atmosphere is child friendly (ranges are in the likes of "sort of", "yes", and "very").

                  Three of us had a late lunch at Cafe Medici in Martinborough. They have an outdoor dining patio in the back and it was quite pleasant.

                  On Cuba Street, +1 for Matterhorn and Logan Brown. Lovely dining experiences there.

                  La Bella Italia in Petone, Lower Hutt, is an Italian cafe/restaurant and shop. If you want to stock up on all things Italian, this is the place. Pics are of an antipasti platter, dining area and deli counter, a couple of flat whites and espresso.

                  I will post separately about South Island. Enjoy your time there :)

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    I'm loving all these responses, you're all very helpful. Thank you. We did make it to the GP. I think my impressions of the meal there are colored somewhat by 2 things: 1) it took 20 minutes after ordering for our drinks to come. 2) the sheer amount of food left me feeling overwhelmed. but I must say, the starters were all good (warm olives, calamari, duck pate). Lulu then got the cheese plate, which she enjoyed. Husband and I both had fish and chips (sort of boring order, but after 3 days in it seemed reasonable) and it was so much food .... I left half of mine and still felt full. I'm learning it is best to just get two apps (or entrees, as they are more correctly called here) or an appetizer and a side.

                    then made it to the Belgian place (Leuven, I believe it is called). Seemed like an easy place to go on a holiday when most things were shut. I had the chicken and duck pot pie; Lulu had the asparagus crepes (very good), and husband had mussels. They were just so-so (and we know you have amazing mussels here).

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      I'd have given GP a pass. The Belgian place is very good for Belgian beer and frites, but mediocre otherwise. Our favourite fish and chips places were Starfish (near the New World in Thorndon) and the fish shop further up Cuba (past Logan Brown).

                      Agree you should trot out to Petone (if you've got a car) to stock up on Italian goodies at La Bella Italia. They've got very nice prosciutto, culatello and mortadella. You can buy much of it pre-sliced at Moore Wilson, but it's better when it's freshly sliced.

                      Also should mention Bohemein chocolates, on Featherston street (just a couple blocks closer to the train station from the Belgian place) for lovely chocolates. I'm a particular fan of the sea salt caramels -- not as good as Fran's in the US, but a good Antipodean substitute.

                      Please have a latte for me at Astoria. I'm in withdrawal.

                      1. re: kelewis

                        We're leaving Wellington for 10 days to tour the south island come Saturday, then back here for 2 weeks. Once we're back, no car, unfortunately. The chocolates are a very fun tip.

                        Agree on GP. Wouldn't go back. I'm kind of in love with Belgium (how many Americans have been there 4 times by choice?) so it was fun to go to that place. i thought the food was good, although the mussels just didn't do it for any of us.

                        Thought of you yesterday when there was a small write-up in the morning paper praising Capitol.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Not sure where you're headed on the South Island, but here are a couple thoughts: try the Mussels at Mussel Boys (last time I checked there was one in Havelock and one in Kaikoura); the crayfish at any of the roadside stalls along the drive to Kaikoura; the Store at Kikirangu on the drive toward Kaikoura. Lots of great wineries in and around Blenheim -- Cloudy Bay is a classic, and we also really love Seresin (both the wines and the lemon olive oil, which is fantastic), Dog Point, Auntsfield and Saint Clair. If you like pottery, there's also a wonderful, quirky, terrific potter outside Blenheim named Fran Maguire. She's got a little studio, and is hilarious. If you see her, tell her Kent and Meredith said hello. If you head to Nelson (and you should), must visit Neudorf winery (a ways out of town, but worth the drive for terrific wine) and eat at Hopgoods, just below the Cathedral.

                          1. re: kelewis

                            I'm going to pass these suggestions on to my husband, who is in charge of the itinerary (while I'm in charge of the 4 year old). I am pretty sure that both Blenheim (for the wines) and Nelson are stops. Thanks again.