Treat yourself to the superb dishes and cellars the rest of the world raves about.
Deboned poached quail, loin of venison and a slice of Black Forest roulade to finish, all enjoyed while gazing at the towering peaks of Mount Cook, are synonymous with fine dining at the Panorama Room in Aoraki Mount Cook Village. Its regional produce and robust flavours has made this restaurant an institution in Canterbury.
The restaurant's wine list is equally impressive, with NZ pinot noirs, cabernets, rieslings, chardonnays and gewurztraminers, including key drops from the Waipara Valley and other wine-growing regions north of Christchurch.
Waipara's reputation for distinctive cool-climate wine is growing apace, with established wineries including Pegasus Bay, Waipara Hills and Mountford Estate being joined by new players such as Black Estate and Fancrest Estate.
At Black Estate, varieties of chenin blanc and cabernet franc are being planted, joining the vineyard's award-winning line-up of pinot noirs, chardonnays and rieslings. Its Waipara Valley estate also includes a restaurant serving fresh baked ciabatta, goat's cheese tarts, venison tataki and sweet delights such as orange pana cotta with cherry jelly. When you visit, prepare to settle in.
Given New Zealand's hunting and fishing heritage, visitors can expect to see plenty of venison, salmon, mussels, scallops and paua, a popular abalone, during their travels.
Motor or cycle south of Christchurch to Akaroa and you will find a determination to use the freshest local ingredients, including Akaroa salmon, in modern twists on classic European-style dishes. A small seaside village, Akaroa has several smart restaurants, including The Little Bistro, as well as a popular cooking school.
The fertile Canterbury Plains are one of the world's largest producers of milk, butter and cheese as well as an astonishing variety of vegetables. The region is also famous for its grass-fed lamb and organic beef. Even small country cafes prefer to serve sustainable, locally sourced produce.
A sustainable sensibility is part of the fabric of life here and the results are tasty. The C1 Espresso cafe in Christchurch, for example, has its own dairy herd, vegetable garden and an organic rooftop apiary. ''We've always done things a little differently and I think that's what people like about C1,'' says owner Sam Crofskey.
Since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, a suite of cafes, restaurants and gastro pubs have opened or reopened in Christchurch.
Some, such as the food court at Re:START, central Christchurch's shipping-container retail centre, enjoy a cult following, but the edgy culinary revolution does not stop there.
New restaurants such as Tequila Mockingbird and the Harlequin Public House serve great nosh and channel a vibrant youthful enthusiasm. CBD Bar & Pizzeria, a new gastro pub in Madras Street, is a perfect example of how Christchurch has managed to make the extraordinary seem normal.
As you sip a pint of pilsner, IPA, Best Bitter or Milk Stout - all brewed in Canterbury by Cassels & Sons - you will see rubble, empty sites and boarded-up buildings nearby.
Beer aficionados should visit Cassels & Sons brewery in Woolston for its cask-conditioned ales and lagers. The brewery also houses cafes, boutiques and other businesses left homeless after the earthquakes.
New laneway bars, hole-in-the-wall eateries and more elaborate dining will soon open in Christchurch, while old favourites beckon, including the studied elegance of 50 Bistro, the flagship restaurant at The George, the city's most exclusive small hotel.
50 Bistro executive chef Andrew Brown and his team turn the indulgence dial to 11 by giving classic dishes a distinctive New Zealand elan. Don't miss the 42-hour-cooked Wakanui beef-flank steak served with watercress and radish salad. The aged, grass-fed beef fillets and rib-eyes are equally tempting, and the desserts, including rhubarb compote, are delectable.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
WINE AND DINE
1. The Panorama Room
No prize for guessing why this elegant space at The Hermitage, Mount Cook Village, with its front row view of Mount Cook, is called the Panorama Room, but the restaurant does not rely on views alone. See hermitage.co.nz
2. The Little Bistro
Enjoy seafood, including Akaroa salmon, monkfish, scallops and smoked eel, at this cute French accented eatery in Akaroa. See thelittlebistro.co.nz
3. Black Estate Winery
This boutique, family-run winery is part of the new guard emerging from the Waipara region, north of Christchurch. The cellar door is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. See blackestate.co.nz
3. pegasus bay Winery
This established winery, has an award-winning restaurant and hosts concerts in its natural amphitheatre. Cellar door and restaurant open seven days.
4. The George
The 53-room hotel is superb and has two great dining experiences: Pescatore and 50 Bistro. Executive rooms from $NZ405 ($373).
5. Tequila Mockingbird
A fresh, contemporary Latin-fusion style bar and restaurant in Victoria Street where the dining is relaxed and communal. Open until late. See tequilamockingbird.co.nz
6. Harlequin Public House
This beautifully restored Victorian villa on Salisbury Street is now one of the coolest places to hang out in Christchurch. It serves bistro meals, great oysters, boutique wines and craft beers. See hphchch.com
7. CBD Bar & Pizzeria
Like a gastronomic phoenix, this handsome, modern building has risen on Madras Street. Enjoy a pint of Cassels & Sons craft beer and the best wood-fired pizza in Canterbury. Open until late.
Farmers' Market Stock up on fresh produce every Saturday at Christchurch's Riccarton House. christchurchfarmersmarket.co.nz
This series of articles published in association with Tourism New Zealand and Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism.