If you’re spending some time in and around Dunedin, jump in the car and travel north, west or south and you will find some great food. You could start in Waitati and work your way north to Oamaru and be wowed by the coastline and the wide array of places to drop in for a bite. Or perhaps you fancy something slightly more whimsical? Head south-west for a stroll through historic Lawrence. Driving west will take you to some jaw-dropping scenery through Middlemarch, and the Kissing Gate Cafe is a must. Any direction you go, you’re spoilt for choice.
What a treat, a day trip south-west from Dunedin to quaint former gold mining town Lawrence, topped off with delicious chocolates. Step into another time on Lawrence’s main street, take your time to read the plaque on the monument to its famous founders and then wander around and peruse its antique shops.
The Lawrence Mint is a chocolate shop and patisserie open from spring through to autumn each year.
It sells handmade Belgian chocolates, scrumptious fruit tarts, truffles, energy balls, cakes and pastries.
The range of tarts changes every day, with flavours such as plum, blood orange and mango with vanilla custard.
Hitting the Otago Central Rail Trail? Or perhaps hitting Middlemarch for a walk in the Rock and Pillar range? This quaint cottage cafe is the place to stop and is always a hit with cyclists, who park up their bikes for a welcome respite from the days-long trail.
A cafe for all seasons, you can cosy up to the logburner in the winter, or lounge at a garden table with a cool drink in summer.
Fresh home baking is the order of the day at the Kissing Gate, often using vegetables and fruit grown on site. Indulge with a jelly and cream sponge donut, or a cinnamon brioche.
And yes, everyone asks. What is a kissing gate? It's a small gate set in a 'u' shape to keep stock off railway lines but let's people to walk through one at a time. The gate just touches or kisses the two gateposts.
Drive a few minutes north of Oamaru – a good amount of time to work up an appetite – and you’ll stumble upon a fresh food wonderland.
Riverstone Kitchen won Cuisine magazine’s Restaurant of the Year award in 2011, and consistently strives for greatness.
A cafe during the day and restaurant at night, it offers vegetables grown from its extensive garden and orchards, as well as showcasing local producers and a large range of craft beers.
Take a stroll through the grounds, or cosy up on a couch in front of the fire. Riverstone also holds seasonal feast evenings with all the trimmings.
Take a moment on your drive from Dunedin to Oamaru to stop off at this wholefoods treasure trove and collect some goodies.
Brydone Wholefoods sits in the old Totara Hall on State Highway One in the tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it settlement of Alma, six kilometres south of Oamaru.
It stocks a large variety or organic and natural food and products, and a well-stocked, walk-in chiller full of organic produce. Fill a bag with groceries, then head to the counter to be tempted by a range of tasty baked treats.
An easy one hour and twenty minute drive from Dunedin is the historic town of Oamaru, which isn’t short on good food. Don’t forget to pop into Tees St Cafe for a little pick me up while you stroll Oamaru’s Victorian quarter.
The cafe sits in an old drapery from 1874, but its fresh, uncluttered interior brings it right into the present day. Tees St changes its menu regularly to take advantage of using seasonal produce.
Take a seat by the window with a plate of free range eggs and bacon, or perhaps some crispy fish tacos, and of course, a fantastic coffee.
You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Fleur’s Place. But you’d better prepare ahead and book a table because this hidden bolthole is world famous.
UK chef Rick Stein has labelled it one of his favourite restaurants worldwide, and it’s not hard to see why.
Only a simple rustic sign on State Highway 1 reveals the hiding place of owner Fleur Sullivan’s rustic two-storey eatery, where the fish is so fresh, it has practically leapt from the Moeraki fishing boats onto your plate. The menu is constantly changing, but you could find yourself treated to an array of beautifully cooked blue cod, dory, moki, blue nose, gurnard, sole, flounder, groper, or crayfish.
If you’re driving down the Otago coast and need a pitstop, this is the bakery to top all bakeries.
It’s well regarded by travellers as an essential port of call, and on a fine day you can wolf down your food in the courtyard before moving on.
Beano’s is famous for its meaty pies, but offers so much more including freshly baked sourdough, grain, rye and forcaccia breads, as well as pastries, and the infamous Southland cheese rolls.
In addition, and particularly tempting, is the ridiculously wide range of delicious sweet treats under the counter. Be warned, especially if you are travelling with kids, as you may need to shield their eyes before you walk in the door!
This delightful store doubles as a summer time pizza parlour where you can get a feast and take it down to Karitane beach for a sunny evening picnic.
The store opened in 2016 and its owners decided to take a chance on woodfired thin-crust pizzas for the hungry masses. (Pizzas are available in the afternoons on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, October through to April).
The rest of the menu adheres to tried and true Italian basics, and so they also whip up lasagne and delicious antipasti platters. For those with a sweeter tooth, make space to try their homemade chocolate cake and coffee. Divine!
Salt and Sugar also stocks fresh, local produce and preserves.
Seeing as these two artisan stores are right next to each other, it would be rude to mention one without the other. Evansdale Cheese is a family-owned business stretching back to 1978 and its cheese is free from preservatives or calf rennet.
Drop by for a tasting session and walk off with a wedge of farmhouse brie, Sage Derby, or perhaps a Marilyn’s Blue.
A garden centre, you say? Well yes, but not just any garden centre – it’s one of the most sustainable garden centres in the country. Blueskin Bay is a renowned hippie settlement, with a stunning beach for leisurely strolls.
Take some time to learn the bay’s colourful history as you stroll through the tiny village, and meander into the peaceful nursery cafe where the menu will change your mind about garden centres forever.
It uses local suppliers such as Evansdale Cheese and Blueskin Bay Honey, features gluten-free and dairy-free options, and sells its own preserves, relishes and jams.
Banner Photo Credit: The Lawrence Mint