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Green Dolphin Restaurant and Bar, Kaikoura | © Bevis Chin/Flickr
Green Dolphin Restaurant and Bar, Kaikoura | © Bevis Chin/Flickr
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The 10 Best Bars and Restaurants in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Picture of Thalita Alves
Updated: 30 December 2017
As far as dining is concerned, Kaikoura is a haven for seafood lovers. The New Zealand town is known for being a great spot to catch (and eat) crayfish, among various other fish and seafood. But even if you don’t like this type of cuisine, you’ll easily find the ideal place to eat, drink and be merry. Here are 10 bars and restaurants guaranteed to satisfy all travellers.

The Whaler Bar and Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, Pub Grub, $$$
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The Whaler is the place to down a range of tap beers, eat a generously sized meal and listen to some cool jukebox tunes while you’re revelling in the fun pub atmosphere. The porterhouse steak special is its most famous meal offering — not just because of its accessible price, but also because of its hearty portions. This is also a good place to try some traditional New Zealand fish and chips as well as other delicacies like seafood chowder.
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The Pier Hotel Restaurant & Bar

Restaurant, Bar, Seafood, Pub Grub, European, $$$
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Locals and visitors alike love to pop into The Pier Hotel’s restaurant for a casual meal and drinks. Seafood is where the restaurant thrives — if you want to try some of Kaikoura’s famous crayfish, this would be the place to do it. To top it all off, local wines are always on the drinks menu and the venue’s friendly, country-style ambiance is enhanced by the historical photographs dotted around the bar area.

Crayfish! When in Kaikoura #happytummy #thankshubby😘

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Green Dolphin Restaurant and Bar

Restaurant, Bar, Contemporary, European, Seafood, $$$
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Green Dolphin Restaurant and Bar, Kaikoura
Green Dolphin Restaurant and Bar, Kaikoura | © Bevis Chin/Flickr

The family-owned Green Dolphin Restaurant and Bar prides itself in using freshly caught fish, wild game and locally sourced produce to create an authentically Kaikoura cuisine experience. The dining room offers incredible panoramas of the bay and the Seaward Kaikoura Range, which greatly complement the restaurant’s stunning seasonal menu as well as its boutique beer and wine selection.
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Koura Bay Lodge

Restaurant, Contemporary, European, Oceanian, $$$
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Glasses and cutlery
Glasses and cutlery | © James Harris/Unsplash

Koura Bay Lodge’s restaurant is an absolute treat for those who relish the fine dining experience. À la carte menu offerings change on a daily basis, in full accordance with what produce, seafood and wild game is available at the time. Even the sauces, pasta and breads that they use are made in-house. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner by reservation only.
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Mon - Fri:
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sat - Sun:
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Sat - Sun:
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Lobster Inn Tavern

Bar, European, Contemporary, Seafood, Pub Grub, $$$
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The Lobster Inn Tavern offers everything you could possibly need on a casual night out: a large screen where you can watch the latest live sports match, private gaming rooms with 16 slot machines, as well as generously apportioned meals and a classic drinks menu to keep all tastes content. Crayfish (i.e. lobster) is the obvious choice for diners, though there are various other options to try too, including a wide assortment of pizzas and seafood mains.
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Zephyr

Restaurant, Contemporary, Oceanian, European, $$$
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Zephyr is a stylish restaurant that takes pride in its contemporary New Zealand flavours. If you want to splurge on a shared meal, the full-size crayfish will be right up your alley. A flatbread main caters to vegetarian tastes, while an assortment of lamb, chicken and seafood dishes pleases all other palates. The wine list puts New Zealand viticulture at the forefront, and there’s a good selection of local and international craft beers and ciders to try too.
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Black Rabbit Pizza

Pizzaria, Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian, $$$
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With a mix of unique creations and flavours we all know and love, Black Rabbit is a pizza lover’s dream. Lunch or dinner are on offer every day, and the restaurant has plenty of takeaway options too. Interesting toppings on the menu include seafood, rabbit, wild game, chicken with wild nuts as well as lots of vegetable combinations for non-meat eaters.
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Mon - Sun:
12:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Meal service:

Takeaway

SlamClub

Restaurant, Contemporary, European, $$$
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SlamClub is an unassuming venue that prides itself in creating simple meals out of the freshest ingredients. Sandwiches and salads are the main thoroughfares here, though the establishment is well-liked for its beer selection too. Live music and regular quiz nights are some of the things that typically draw the crowds to SlamClub during the evening.
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Donegal House

Bar, Restaurant, Pub, European, Irish, Contemporary, Oceanian, Vegetarian, $$$
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Donegal House is an Irish hotel, pub and restaurant known for its homely meals, interesting historic setting and all-round friendly vibes. Roast meals with a choice of lamb, pork or chicken is where Donegal thrives; vegetarian meals and hearty seafood delicacies are always on the menu too. An expansive outdoor seating area makes this the ideal place to chill out with a glass of Marlborough wine as you bask in the amazing sea views.

The daily struggle

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Caves Restaurant

Cafe, Restaurant, Contemporary, $$$
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Head to Caves Restaurant for an unpretentious seaside lunch that celebrates the good-old New Zealand fares. With an array of cabinet treats, burgers, plus a rich offering of seafood, beef, lamb and chicken mains this is a place that aptly caters to all appetites and food preferences. You can wash it all down with a nice cup of coffee, smoothie or even a milkshake if you want to satisfy your sweet-tooth inclinations.

A photo can't tell you how light and crispy the batter is on these blue cod fillets

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