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From test kitchens to wild restaurants, discover NZ’s best fine-dining experiences

By Kathryn Chung

<em>Dining at Embra in Taupō</em>
Dining at Embra in Taupō
From experimental test kitchens to theatrical degustations, these elevated dining experiences are putting Aotearoa on the culinary map.

Arbour, Blenheim

Photography by Richard Briggs

Arbour in Blenheim centres Marlborough’s passionate winemakers and producers with its modern, innovative cuisine and thoughtfully curated wine list. Opt for ‘The Many’ set menu, which takes you on a seven-course dining trip with dishes just as stunning to look at as they are to eat.

Embra, Taupō

Contemporary restaurant Embra, run by Phill and Nora Blackburne, has put Taupō on Aotearoa’s culinary map, offering changing 3–5 course menus that bring together modern Kiwi cuisine and French and British cooking techniques.

Alpha, Auckland

Starting out as a daytime bakery and eatery from the talented team behind Pasture and Boxer, experimental Parnell restaurant Alpha is now open for dinner. A creative test kitchen for the Pasture chefs, diners can expect a culinary journey that delights.

Inati, Christchurch

Photography by Jerome Warburton

Deriving its name from the te reo Māori word meaning ‘to share’, the dining experience at Christchurch’s Inati is an exercise in culinary theatre. With a menu divided between ‘Earth’, ‘Land’ and ‘Sea’, the restaurant offers a ‘Trust Us’ degustation of decadent flavours including pickled clams, caviar, smoked venison and charred octopus.

50-50, Kāpiti Coast

Chef and owner Helen Turnbull embraces an avant-garde approach to fine dining at her stunning Kāpiti Coast restaurant, 50-50. Locally sourced and foraged ingredients (many of which come from Turnbull’s own garden) are skillfully transformed into elegant and inventive dishes, many inspired by international cuisines and Japanese techniques – a look back to Turnbull’s time spent working in Tokyo for the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Michel Troisgros.

The Chef’s Table, Ruapehu District

Situated on the edge of Whanganui National Park, The Chef’s Table is an intimate restaurant that heroes refined, conservation-focused cuisine. Sitting atop a hill at The Blue Duck Station, this remote restaurant led by chef Jack Cashmore is only accessible via ATV or helicopter and along with a degustation menu, offers guests overnight stays in luxury eco-cabins. Read more about The Chef’s Table here.

Amisfield, Queenstown

Photography by Sam Stewart

The dining experience at Amisfield is one of the best you’ll find in Aotearoa. Executive Chef Vaughan Mabee serves the rich flavours of Central Otago on a plate with an exceptional degustation menu. Hyper-local and environmentally-driven, the dining experience here is truly unforgettable.


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