The People Behind the Places: Meet the Food and Drink Heroes of Kaikōura

A hand holds a bunch of dark red grapes growing on a vine at Esses in Kaikōura.

Come hungry, thirsty and with plenty of suitcase space as this new look food and drink scene won’t disappoint.

Words: Johnny Gibson 

Photos: Nancy Zhou

Famous for its abundance of seafood, a recent surge of passionate local producers is helping highlight what's wild and farmed to create more memorable food experiences in the awe-inspiring coastal community of Kaikōura. 

Mt Fyffe Distillery

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202 McInnes Road, Kaikoura Flat, Kaikōura

On the foothills of Mt Fyffe, you'll find one of NZ's smallest nano distilleries in My Fyffe Distillery. Founder and distiller Justine Schroder's passion is evident when she talks about her gin journey. Head to their website to experience Kaikōura in a bottle and hear about their story and award-winning gins. You might even be able to book a visit to the garage distillery located on their family farm.

Hapuku Kitchen

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17 Parsons Road, Hapuku

Hapuku Kitchen is all about reconnecting people with where their food comes from. A cooking school and home for owner operators Fiona Read and Chris Sturgeon, the property produces just about all the ingredients used in the kitchen. There's a herb garden that grows over 20 varieties, a citrus orchard, walnut, hazelnut and almond trees, apple, pear and quince trees, an amazing vegetable garden, ducks, saddleback pigs, Galloway cows and plenty more. You can join the culinary adventure by booking a half day or full day cooking class or popping along to one of their supper clubs. 

Emporium Brewing

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57A Beach Road, Kaikōura

This award-winning brewery and taproom is open daily with 12 taps of goodness, including regular releases and seasonals. A lunch menu offers burgers and bites to match your brews. There's an 18 hole mini golf course and two escape rooms. You can also fill riggers to take away if you're not planning to stay. 

Star Coffee Roasters

Roasting 100% Certified Organic Fair Trade Arabica beans, Star Coffee Roasters are all about small batch fresh quality coffee. Established in 2010, this low key coastal roaster supplies a handful of local spots, including SlamClub, Bean Me Up and Bernie's Diner. Three blends are on offer and orders can be made via email or phone via the website.

Esses Wine Company

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280 Postmans Road, RD1, Kaikōura

Nestled in the foothills of the soaring Seaward Kaikōura Range, Esses Wine Company is the only vineyard in the Kaikōura region and a strong contender for one of the most picturesque in the whole country. It’s the passion project of growers and winemakers Mel and Aaron Skinner who, originally from Australia, leapt at the opportunity to purchase the vineyard with its twenty-year-old chardonnay and pinot noir vines back in 2007. Strong believers in minimalist winemaking, Mel and Aaron let the pristine terroir do a lot of the talking in their limited-release vintages. They specialise in sparkling wine created through the labour-intensive Méthode Traditionnelle process, and the sophisticated drops showcase the seasons and land quality in which the grapes grow. Call, text or email to make an appointment to visit their tasting room and try these unique wines.

Nins Bin

Jul-20 NZ, State Highway 1, 6, Kaikōura

No Kaikōura trip would be complete without a seafood fix, and there's no place better than this iconic caravan restaurant that sits oceanside along State Highway 1. Nins Bin first opened some 40 years ago and the process hasn't changed much. Crays are caught early in the morning using sustainable fishing methods, cooked across the road in a cookery and served with fresh lemon and garlic butter direct from the caravan – simple and delicious.

Kaikōura Fine Foods

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8 West End, Kaikōura

Kaikōura Fine Foods is a small delicatessen at the north end of the main street. Showcasing local artisan produce alongside fine international foods, is at the heart of this local business. A variety of cured meats sourced mainly from Canterbury based Poaka farm (producer of award winning free range meats), plus several different cheeses from Little River Estate and goat cheese from Picton based Cranky Goat, are all available. The dry goods shelves are stocked with various condiments you won't find at the supermarket. 

Hapuku Lodge

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State Highway 1, Kaikōura

 While the lodge is most famous for its Tree House rooms, it's a noteworthy farm for food production. There's an olive orchard that provides oil for the kitchen and restaurant. An operating deer farm specialises in breeding stags for their antlers, and the team is developing a program to breed venison, beef, lamb and pork to create a 'Farm to Table’ experience.

Neat Kaikōura Places

Harmon's Motor Museum

Classic car parked with a painted beach mural behind.
Place Kaikōura
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A private classic car collection run by a father-son duo.

Strawberry Tree Kaikōura

Man standing at the bar with his children at Strawberry Tree.
Place Kaikōura
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A quirky Irish Bar and live music venue serving up some of the best grub in town.

Kaikōura Seafood BBQ

Takeaway box with cooked crayfish dish inside.
Place Kaikōura

One the most affordable spots in town for getting your hands on world famous crayfish.

Hapuku Kitchen

Owner of Hapuku Kitchen, Fiona.
Place Kaikōura Editor's Pick
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A food and nature lover’s wonderland.