Oamaru and Dunedin
The town of Oamaru has a spectacular collection of Victorian buildings, which have been restored to their original glory. While you’re walking the historic precinct, look for the Star and Garter restaurant - the menu includes local treats such as blue cod, venison and Waitaki salmon.
A German bakery selling organic breads and traditional biscuits is another great food opportunity in this heritage area. For cheese connoisseurs, a tasting session at the Whitestone cheese factory is compulsory - be sure to try the award-winning Windsor Blue.
South of Oamaru is Moeraki, where the main attraction is a beach strewn with giant spherical boulders. At the local café you can enjoy seafood that’s fresh off the fishing boats.
Dunedin, the South Island’s second largest city, is sometimes known as the ‘Edinburgh of the South’ because it was founded by Scottish settlers. For anybody with a drop of Scottish blood in their veins, the haggis ceremony at Larnach Castle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
You might also want to collect a bottle of Milford - Dunedin’s own single malt whisky.
You’ll find an excellent range of restaurants in Dunedin, and the large student population means that some of them have very friendly prices.
Most of New Zealand’s chocolate is made here - you can tour the factory and watch it being made. Speights Brewery also does a great tour.
To a New Zealander, food in Southland means one thing - Bluff oysters. Some people say they’re the finest in the world. Grown slowly in the subantarctic waters of Foveaux Strait, Bluff oysters are fat, succulent and best eaten raw.
The oyster season generally runs from late March until the end of August.
Deer farming is big in Southland, so any respectable restaurant will have venison on the menu.
Rack of Southland lamb is something else you simply have to try. In this green land, where every second person is a farmer, the quality of the meat is seldom equalled in other parts of the world.
Sometimes it’s good to work for your dinner, and the well-stocked rivers around Mataura and Gore are known for trophy-sized brown trout. If you don’t have any luck, farmed salmon from Stewart Island is always available. Fresh or smoked, it’s absolutely exquisite.
A memorable cultural attraction in Southland is the Hokonui Moonshine Museum, which celebrates the region’s fascinating history of illicit whisky making.