Best places to eat in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific

Australia, New Zealand and regional Pacific nations are blessed with some of the freshest and most abundant produce on the planet.

MARGARET RIVER DISCOVERY TOURS 

As any wine aficionado will tell you, it's all about the "terroir", and that's what Margaret River Discovery Tours seeks to explore. This day trip is part active adventure, part wine tasting, as guests go canoeing on Margaret River, take a four-wheel-drive trip through the surrounding bush, then hike part of the Cape to Cape Track before settling in at a winery for a well-earned lunch and a sampling of the region's finest product. See margaretriverdiscovery.com.au

HOTEL: PUMPHOUSE POINT, LAKE ST CLAIR, TASMANIA

A former electricity station turned into a boutique hotel jutting into pristine Lake St Clair in Tasmania's World Heritage wilderness, Pumphouse Point doesn't have to shout to be heard, a situation equally applicable to the food. Communal dinners such as duck cassoulet  are rustic and hearty, while the guest rooms have fridges stuffed full of local goodies including wine and cider, cured meats, pate and cheeses – and a loaf of warmed sourdough is only a phone  call to reception away. See pumphousepoint.com.au

THE MOORINGS, RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS

The Moorings serves the freshest fish burgers in the south Pacific because its co-owner, Captain Moko, is out  at dawn catching tuna and mahi-mahi for his customers. Then he cleans the fish in front of the simple converted container on Rarotonga's Muri Lagoon, and hands the fillets to his wife to lightly sear. Served up on bread with a zesty sauce, it's the simplest lunch in Polynesia – and also the tastiest. Wash it down with green coconut nui for $5. See cookislands.travel

EXPERT'S CHOICE: MICHAEL HILL SMITH

MARKET: CENTRAL FOOD MARKET, ADELAIDE

A parochial choice, I admit, but for me it is the Adelaide Central Food Market. I was first taken there by my father when I was nine years old and have been going back  ever since. As with all good markets, there is a bustling vibrancy, a heady blend of sounds, smells, and cultures. See adelaidecentralmarket.com.au

CELLAR DOOR: FOXEYS  HANGOUT, RED HILL, VICTORIA

There are probably several better wine producers in the Mornington Peninsula region, and there are probably several better restaurants. However, the thing about Foxeys  Hangout is that it's the full package: the wine is good, the share-plate food is excellent, and the view from the wooden deck overlooking the vineyard's rolling green hills can't be beaten. This is the sort of place where you can settle in and while away an afternoon without even realising you're doing it. See foxeys-hangout.com.au

WINE: GIMBLETT GRAVELS, NEW ZEALAND

Wine lovers seeking a break from New Zealand's sauvignon blanc obsession need only head to Gimblett Gravels, a small area of Hawke's  Bay that as recently as 30 years ago was a pile of unloved rocks and gravel, but is now home to some of the country's best syrahs and cab savs. It's also a great place to stop and enjoy the scenery, with Te Awa Winery offering a great selection of share-plate style food in its beautiful garden restaurant. See gimblettgravels.com; teawacollection.com 

PRODUCE: THE FARM, BYRON BAY, NSW

You've heard of farm-to-table eating, but it's rare that the farm and the table are this close together. Just off the Pacific Highway leading into Byron Bay, The Farm is a  32-hectare poultry, pig and cattle farm that is also home to a restaurant, cafe, produce store and bakery. All of the food turned out by these extremely popular establishments is organic, ethically produced, (very) locally sourced, and, most importantly of all, delicious. See thefarmbyronbay.com.au

EXPERT'S CHOICE: LYNDEY MILAN

WORKSHOPS: BIOTA DINING IN BOWRAL, NSW

Biota Dining offers the complete locavore experience. Co-owner executive chef James Viles is committed to local produce, seasonality and sustainability.  He hosts the local farmers' market and encourages its producers. Workshops offer garden experiences, backyard barbecue, natural bread making, single origin grains, cooking with vegetables, butchery and, in season, perhaps foraging for truffles and meeting a local pig producer. See biotadining.com

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TOUR: ZEST, WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

Oh Wellington, you small-batch, organic, handmade haven of a city. As the culinary capital of New Zealand, you have more eateries per head of population than New York and a traveller can get a wee bit befuddled by all your offerings. Enter Zest Food Tours whose guides   take travellers to some of your hottest establishments, including Mojo Coffee to taste its infamous "nitro" and "steampunk" coffees, Bohemein for artisanal choccies, and Gelissimo for award-winning organic milk gelato with weird and wonderful flavours like carrot, and yuzu and olive oil. See zestfoodtours.co.nz

PRODUCE: OYSTER FARM, SAFFIRE, FREYCINET, TASMANIA

No one looks good in a pair of neoprene waders, but it's worth sacrificing some style points to feast on the freshest oysters you will ever savour. As organised by Tasmania's most luxurious lodge, Saffire, breakfast at an oyster farm is the only meal I have eaten while standing waist-deep in water. There are some typical Saffire trimmings, including free-flowing champagne and a white tablecloth, but it's those ultra-fresh oysters, handed to you straight from the water, that are the real luxury. See saffire-freycinet.com.au

WINE: SEPPELT CENTENARY TOUR, BAROSSA VALLEY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

There are plenty of wine cellars in the Barossa Valley, but none quite like the port cellar that lies beneath the Seppeltsfield winery. The barrels contain a remarkable collection of tawny port, dating to 1878. Sign up for the Seppelt Centenary Tour and, as well as visiting the cellar, you also get to taste a rare 100-year-old port, as well as the port from your birth year, direct from the barrel. See seppeltsfield.com.au

PRODUCE: MUD-CRABBING, DAMPIER PENINSULA, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Fast food this ain't. As we wade through the mangroves of the Dampier Peninsula, searching for mud crabs, we soon realise that it takes both skill and patience to locate the crabs and then drag them from their hiding places. Most of us have neither. Fortunately, our guide scoops up enough crabs for us all, allowing us to feel like all-conquering hunter-gatherers when we later make a meal of that sweet, sweet flesh. See lombadina.com

CONTRIBUTORS: Larissa Dubecki, Michael Gebicki, Ben Groundwater, Ute Junker, Nina Karnikowski, Kerry van der Jagt, Craig Tansley, Lee Tulloch

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