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New Zealand producers some of the world's tastiest fresh food. Besides many restaurants offering dishes from a wide variety of countries in Europe and Asia - France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Greece, China, Thailand, India and Vietnam - as well as growing numbers of Middle Eastern and Latin American restaurants, there is a Pacific-style New Zealand cuisine using the abundant fresh meats, fish, vegetables and fruit in a creative manner.
New Zealand cuisine draws inspiration from Europe, Asia and Polynesia; Pacific-Rim is a distinctive fusion using many of our excellent fresh produce and seafood. Lamb, pork and cervena (venison), salmon, crayfish (lobster), oysters, kina, squid, paua (abalone), scallops, tuatua and pipi (New Zealand shellfish), mussels, kumara (a native sweet potato), kiwifruit, New Zealand honey - these are some of the delicious fresh ingredients which make the food in New Zealand so special. Chefs are world-class, with many having worked in Europe and around the world.
There are two main categories of restaurants: licensed, which sell wine, and those where you can take your own wine. A nominal charge for corkage will appear on bills at BYO restaurants - this is for opening, chilling and serving the wine. Some restaurants are licensed but also permit customers to bring their own wine. Excluding wine, which varies in price between restaurants, a three-course meal usually costs from $35 to upwards of $100; BYO is usually cheaper than licensed, and ethnic restaurants (with some exceptions) a little cheaper than European.
Late-night and 24-hour cafes and bar/restaurants are gaining popularity. Some are run by the major hotels. They will often have live entertainment. Local papers, especially on Thursday and Friday, print details of nightlife.
Begun by European immigrants, New Zealand's wine industry has grown rapidly; achieving great international success and a fine reputation in a very short time.
As a cool climate country, with a long autumn, when the grapes can ripen slowly to a full flavour, New Zealand is ideal for winemaking and a constantly rising standard is evident among its winemakers. Notable New Zealand wines are known for their distinct taste profiles and intense flavour, such as the white Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling, bottle fermented sparkling wines, and red Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. These fine wines are a perfect complement to the fresh, tasty foods of New Zealand.
Many wine critics consider New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc the world's finest, with its purity and clarity of flavour. Northern wines are more lush and fruity, while the southern Sauvignon Blanc is more classical in style, with herbaceous overtones.
New Zealand's major grape growing areas are in the dry, sunny eastern regions, with three main areas - Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Marlborough. Other areas of importance are Auckland, Martinborough, Nelson, Canterbury and Queenstown.
Many wineries have attractive settings, with restaurants and/or gardens where their wares can be enjoyed. Tours and tasting are often available.