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[Pictures: Simon Farrell-Green]

We remember visiting Oamaru nearly a decade ago. Back then, despite that stunning main street – colonnaded limestone buildings completely out of proportion with the size of the town – there really was nowhere to eat. But things have changed: it’s now one of the finest places to eat in the South Island. You should go.

You’ll have heard of Fleur’s Place, of course. A reconstructed fishing shack on the waterfront at Moeraki, Fleur’s has become iconic, and for good reason: the food is really good. It’s breathtakingly simple – a seafood hot pot is just that, seafood, lots of it, packed with green-lipped mussels, clams, other mollucs and whatever white fish is fresh on the day, with a salty broth in the bottom of the bowl.
At The Old Jetty, Moeraki, ph (03) 439-4480.

The Loan & Merc is Fleur’s Other Place, in a beautiful old grain warehouse built in the 1860s. The building is striking, the winelist excellent. You’d better like a roast, since it’s a carvery – at 7pm, a jolly fat chef brings out four roasts and carves them in front of you; portions are generous. The meat is beautifully cooked, the roasted beetroots are superb – but the plain steamed vegetables and green salad are a let-down. The bread and butter pudding is brilliant.
Harbour St, Oamaru, ph (03) 434-9905.

Riverstone Kitchen won Cuisine magazine’s restaurant of the year award last year, and rightly so: it’s everything you want a rural restaurant to be. It’s a simple barn of a building, with white walls and bare tables. Service is friendly, enthusiastic even, but professional. The food takes good ingredients and treats them right: roasted Mt Cook salmon with spinach and roasted potatoes, say, or a tarte tatin made from local apples with house-made ice cream. The beer list puts most Auckland restaurants to shame.
1431 State Highway 1, ph (03) 431-3505.

A very fine flat white and a cheese scone can be had at Steam, the only coffee roaster between Dunedin and Christchurch.
7 Thames St, Oamaru, ph (03) 434-3344.

You should also go to Whitestone Cheese for a tasting, where you can watch the cheesemakers cutting the curd.
3 Torridge St, Oamaru ph (03) 434-8098.

And, if you have time, head up the Waitaki Valley to Kurow, where you’ll find The Vintner’s Drop in a cute former post office. It’s technically the cellar door for Ostler Wines – we recommend the dry riesling – but they also sell wine from all over the valley. Owner Jim Jerram is knowledgeable and friendly; be sure to ring ahead to make sure they’re open. SFG
Main St, Kurow, ph (03) 436-0545.







  1. Mel wrote:

    It has been four years since I visited Oamaru – I’m with you on Riverstone!

    Friday, August 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  2. This is great… you’ll have fun in so many places.. and a brilliant resource to have. You’ll need sponsors soon! all the travelling!

    Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  3. SFG wrote:

    Thanks guys. We’d love a sponsor! Soon…

    Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  4. Brendon wrote:

    Delicious. Though I must say that i was quite disappointed by the seafood platter at Fleur’s last year. The serving size was impressive but it felt a bit too obvious that they were getting rid of yesterday’s unsold fish bits – it didn’t really taste very good. Next time will definitely get one of the fresher dishes.

    Need to get rid of the “the” in the vinters drop web address, tis currently broken (not that there’s much of a site there yet anyway).


    Monday, September 26, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  5. Jay McMillan wrote:

    What a refreshing, simple, exciting site, yes Oamaru is an invigorating place to live – we moved here 10 years ago from Auckland & can’t think of any reason to leave..

    Monday, April 16, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  6. Jay McMillan wrote:

    Forgot to mention – we would like to offer you our support and accommdation at our place next time you are on one of your excursions in Oamaru

    Monday, April 16, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

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