The Insider's Guide to New Zealand
THE OLD KAIKOURA WINERY
Contrary to its name, think of The Old Kaikōura Winery as a restaurant that just happens also to have great wine. Chef Rob Cullen, who took over the lease in 2017, keeps diners on their toes with inventive dégustation menus. That's not to say they reveal much — Rob is delightfully vague in his dish descriptions. “I believe the wow factor should come on the plate,” he says. So when the menu simply lists “bacon and eggs”, don't expect a literal translation. Beef broth? It may well arrive at the table in a Cona coffeemaker. Rob, who grew up in the South Island, opened the restaurant after spending six years as personal chef to the King of Jordan, Abdullah II.
Under Rob's guidance, the restaurant serves up three-, five- and seven-course offerings that very well could be fit for royalty. “When I returned from Jordan, I wanted to do refined dining, but a bit more casual and not pretentious at all,” he says. Think local ingredients, creative combinations and, with the winery perched on a cliff above SH1, a breathtaking seaside view. Be sure to book in advance as the restaurant does not accept walk-ins. 140 SH1, Kaikōura.
(03) 319 6264, theoldkaikourawinery.nz