A Food Lover’s Guide to the Best Seafood Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand is renowned worldwide for its pristine waters, vast coastline, and abundant marine life, making it a paradise for seafood lovers. 

From succulent green-lipped mussels to delicate crayfish and exquisite paua, New Zealand offers a tantalising array of seafood delicacies that are a testament to its rich maritime heritage. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a culinary journey through the best seafood spots in New Zealand, showcasing the freshest catches and highlighting the cultural significance of seafood in Kiwi cuisine.

New Zealand’s coastal towns and bustling seafood markets are the heart and soul of the country’s vibrant seafood scene. 

Here, the ocean provides a bounty of delectable treasures, and local fishermen work tirelessly to bring these delicacies from boat to plate with care and respect for the marine environment. 

One of the key features that sets New Zealand’s seafood apart is its commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing. 

By prioritising responsible fishing practices and supporting local fisheries, New Zealand ensures that its seafood remains not only fresh and delicious but also environmentally sustainable for generations to come.

Best Seafood Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand Seafood Delicacies

When it comes to seafood, New Zealand offers a cornucopia of delights for food enthusiasts to savour. 

From the iconic green-lipped mussels harvested from the pristine waters of Marlborough Sounds to the succulent crayfish found off the shores of Kaikoura, there’s no shortage of culinary treasures to explore

Here are some of the must-try seafood delicacies that define Kiwi cuisine:

  • Green-Lipped Mussels: Known for their large size and distinctive flavour, green-lipped mussels are a New Zealand specialty and a favourite among seafood connoisseurs.
  • Crayfish: Also known as rock lobsters, crayfish are prized for their sweet, tender meat and are often enjoyed grilled, boiled, or in seafood platters.
  • Paua (Abalone): Paua is a type of edible sea snail found along New Zealand’s rocky coastline. Its firm, colourful meat is often used in fritters, stir-fries, and salads.
  • Whitebait Fritters: A beloved Kiwi delicacy, whitebait fritters are made from tiny translucent fish caught in river estuaries and fried in a light batter.
  • Fish and Chips: A classic Kiwi comfort food, fish and chips feature fresh local fish coated in crispy batter and served with golden fries.
  • Fish Chowder: A hearty soup made with chunks of fresh fish, potatoes, vegetables, and cream, fish chowder is a comforting dish perfect for chilly evenings.
  • Oysters: New Zealand’s pristine waters produce some of the finest oysters in the world, prized for their plump, briny flavor and creamy texture.
  • Shellfish and Crustaceans: From plump oysters to tender paua, New Zealand offers a wide variety of shellfish and crustaceans, including clams, scallops, and crabs.

These seafood delicacies not only showcase the natural bounty of New Zealand’s waters but also reflect the country’s rich culinary heritage and coastal culture.

Top Seafood Spots in New Zealand

Auckland Fish Market

Located in the heart of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, the Auckland Fish Market is a seafood lover’s paradise. 

Here, visitors can immerse themselves in a bustling marketplace brimming with the freshest catches sourced from local waters. 

From succulent green-lipped mussels to plump oysters and delicate snapper, the market offers a diverse selection of seafood delicacies to tantalise your taste buds.

Market Stalls and Restaurants:

  • Market Stalls: Explore the various market stalls showcasing a wide array of fresh fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. 

Chat with local fishermen and vendors to learn more about their catch of the day and take home some of the finest seafood New Zealand has to offer.

  • Restaurants: After perusing the market, dine at one of the market’s restaurants where talented chefs prepare mouthwatering seafood dishes using the freshest ingredients. 

Indulge in classic fish and chips, succulent seafood platters, or inventive sushi creations.

Events and Cooking Demonstrations:

  • Regular Events: The Auckland Fish Market hosts regular events and cooking demonstrations, providing visitors with the opportunity to learn more about seafood preparation and cooking techniques from industry experts.
  • Cooking Classes: Take part in hands-on cooking classes where you can learn how to prepare and cook seafood dishes like a pro. From filleting fish to shucking oysters, these classes offer valuable culinary skills and insights.


  • Fresh Seafood to Go: Visit the fishmonger at the Auckland Fish Market to purchase a variety of fresh seafood to cook at home. Whether you’re craving whole fish, shellfish, or fillets, you’ll find everything you need to create a delicious seafood feast in your own kitchen.

Location and Ambiance:

  • Waterfront Views: Situated on the waterfront, the Auckland Fish Market offers stunning views of the harbour, providing the perfect backdrop for a seafood feast.
  • Lively Atmosphere: Experience the lively atmosphere of the market as locals and tourists alike gather to indulge in the freshest seafood and soak up the vibrant energy of Auckland’s culinary scene.

Fleur’s Place, Moeraki

Nestled in the quaint fishing village of Moeraki on the South Island’s east coast, Fleur’s Place is a hidden gem renowned for its fresh seafood and rustic charm. 

This iconic restaurant has earned a reputation for its dedication to sourcing the finest local ingredients, with seafood straight from the boats to the plate.

Fresh Seafood from Local Fishermen:

  • Direct from the Source: Fleur’s Place sources its seafood directly from local fishermen, ensuring that guests are treated to the freshest catches available.
  • Seasonal Specialties: The menu at Fleur’s Place changes regularly to reflect the seasonal availability of seafood, allowing diners to savour the best of what the ocean has to offer.

Signature Dishes and Menu Highlights:

  • Seafood Chowder: Dive into a bowl of Fleur’s famous seafood chowder, brimming with the bounty of the sea and bursting with flavour.
  • Grilled Fish: Enjoy perfectly grilled fish served with seasonal vegetables and drizzled with tangy lemon butter sauce, showcasing the natural flavours of the seafood.

Atmosphere and Location:

  • Cozy and Charming: Fleur’s Place exudes a cosy and charming atmosphere, with rustic decor and waterfront views that capture the essence of New Zealand’s coastal culture.
  • Seaside Dining: Situated right on the waterfront, the restaurant offers picturesque views of the harbour and fishing boats bobbing in the bay, creating a truly memorable dining experience.

Whitebait Inn, Haast

Tucked away in the picturesque town of Haast on the South Island’s West Coast, the Whitebait Inn is a hidden gem beloved by locals and tourists alike. 

Specialising in fresh whitebait fritters, this charming restaurant offers a unique culinary experience that celebrates one of New Zealand’s most prized seafood delicacies.

Local Delicacy: Whitebait Fritters

  • Fresh and Flavorful: Whitebait is a delicacy in New Zealand, prized for its delicate flavour and melt-in-your-mouth texture. At the Whitebait Inn, you can savour this local delicacy in a variety of dishes, including fritters, omelettes, and sandwiches.
  • Seasonal Availability: Whitebait season runs from August to November, making it a highly anticipated culinary treat for seafood enthusiasts.

Other Seafood Options:

  • Fish and Chips: In addition to whitebait dishes, the Whitebait Inn also offers a selection of other seafood options, including classic fish and chips made with locally sourced fish and crispy golden fries.
  • Seafood Platters: Indulge in a seafood platter featuring a variety of fresh catches, including prawns, mussels, and squid, served with dipping sauces and accompaniments.

Cosy Atmosphere and Stunning Location:

  • Warm Hospitality: The Whitebait Inn exudes a warm and welcoming atmosphere, with friendly staff and cosy interiors that make diners feel right at home.
  • Scenic Surroundings: Surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the West Coast, the restaurant’s location offers breathtaking views of rugged mountains, lush rainforests, and pristine rivers, providing the perfect backdrop for a memorable dining experience.

Sustainable Seafood Practices

New Zealand takes great pride in its commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing in the seafood industry. 

With its vast coastline and rich marine biodiversity, the country recognizes the importance of protecting its precious marine resources for future generations. 

Here’s how New Zealand ensures that its seafood industry remains environmentally sustainable and socially responsible:

Importance of Sustainability

New Zealand’s seafood industry is built on the principles of sustainability, ensuring that fishing practices are conducted in a manner that maintains the health and abundance of marine ecosystems. 

By prioritising sustainability, New Zealand aims to strike a balance between meeting the demand for seafood and preserving the long-term health of its oceans.

Regulations and Certifications

  • Government Regulations: New Zealand has stringent regulations in place to manage its fisheries and protect marine species. 

These regulations include catch limits, size restrictions, and seasonal closures to prevent overfishing and protect vulnerable species.

  • Certifications: Many seafood producers in New Zealand adhere to internationally recognized certifications such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). 

These certifications ensure that seafood products meet strict sustainability standards and are sourced from responsibly managed fisheries and aquaculture operations.

Support for Local Fisheries

New Zealand’s seafood industry relies heavily on local fishermen and small-scale fishing communities. 

By supporting these local fisheries, consumers can help sustain traditional fishing practices and contribute to the economic livelihoods of coastal communities.

Marine Conservation Efforts

In addition to sustainable fishing practices, New Zealand also invests in marine conservation efforts to protect and preserve its marine ecosystems. 

This includes the establishment of marine reserves and protected areas where fishing is prohibited to safeguard vulnerable species and habitats.

Consumer Awareness and Education

Raising awareness among consumers about the importance of sustainable seafood is crucial for driving positive change in the industry. 

By educating consumers about the benefits of choosing sustainable seafood options, New Zealand encourages responsible consumption practices that support the health of our oceans.

Must-Try Seafood Dishes in New Zealand

New Zealand’s culinary landscape is defined by its rich array of seafood dishes, each highlighting the unique flavours and textures of the country’s abundant marine bounty. 

Whether you’re a seafood enthusiast or a culinary adventurer, there are several must-try dishes that showcase the best of Kiwi seafood cuisine:

Classic Fish and Chips

Description: Fish and chips is a quintessential Kiwi comfort food, featuring fresh local fish coated in crispy batter and served with golden fries. It’s a timeless dish that combines simplicity with unbeatable flavour.

Recommended Spots: Auckland Fish Market’s Fish Pot Café, Kaikohe Fish Shop

Paua Fritters

Description: Paua, or abalone, is a prized delicacy in New Zealand known for its tender meat and delicate flavour. Paua fritters are made by coating thinly sliced paua meat in a light batter and frying until golden brown.

Recommended Spots: Fleur’s Place, Whitebait Inn

Seafood Platter

Description: A seafood platter is a feast for the senses, featuring a generous selection of fresh seafood delicacies such as oysters, prawns, mussels, and smoked salmon. It’s the perfect option for those looking to sample a variety of flavors in one indulgent meal.

Recommended Spots: Auckland Fish Market, Fleur’s Place

Whitebait Fritters

Description: Whitebait fritters are a Kiwi specialty made from tiny translucent fish caught in river estuaries. These delicate fish are mixed with eggs and lightly fried to create a crispy exterior with a soft, fluffy interior.

Recommended Spots: Whitebait Inn, Local cafes and restaurants during whitebait season

Seafood Chowder

Description: Seafood chowder is a hearty soup made with chunks of fresh fish, potatoes, vegetables, and cream, all simmered together to create a rich and comforting dish that’s perfect for chilly evenings.

Recommended Spots: Fleur’s Place, Local seafood restaurants

These must-try seafood dishes not only showcase the diverse flavours of New Zealand’s seafood but also highlight the country’s culinary creativity and innovation. Whether you’re craving a classic favourite or eager to try something new, these dishes are sure to 

New Zealand Seafood Delicacies

Seafood Markets and Festivals in New Zealand

New Zealand’s seafood markets and festivals offer a unique opportunity to experience the country’s rich maritime heritage and culinary traditions. 

From bustling markets where you can purchase fresh seafood straight from the fishermen to lively festivals celebrating the best of Kiwi seafood cuisine, there’s something for every seafood lover to enjoy:

Auckland Fish Market

Description: The Auckland Fish Market is a bustling hub of activity where visitors can explore a wide selection of fresh seafood sourced from local waters. Browse the market stalls, dine at one of the on-site restaurants, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of New Zealand’s largest seafood market.

Location: Auckland, North Island


  • Wide variety of fresh seafood options
  • On-site restaurants serving delicious seafood dishes
  • Regular events and cooking demonstrations

Wellington Sea Market

Description: Located in the capital city of Wellington, the Wellington Sea Market is a popular destination for seafood enthusiasts looking to sample the best of the region’s seafood offerings. Browse the market stalls, chat with local fishermen, and enjoy freshly shucked oysters and other seafood delicacies.

Location: Wellington, North Island


  • Freshly shucked oysters
  • Selection of local seafood vendors
  • Vibrant atmosphere and waterfront location

Nelson Seafood Centre

Description: Nestled in the coastal town of Nelson on the South Island, the Nelson Seafood Centre is a must-visit destination for seafood lovers. Explore the market’s stalls, sample freshly caught seafood, and take in the scenic views of the harbor while indulging in a seafood feast.

Location: Nelson, South Island


  • Fresh seafood straight from the boats
  • Stunning waterfront location
  • Local vendors offering a variety of seafood options

Bluff Oyster and Food Festival

Description: The Bluff Oyster and Food Festival is an annual celebration of one of New Zealand’s most prized delicacies – the Bluff oyster. 

Held in the coastal town of Bluff, this festival showcases the best of Kiwi seafood cuisine, with oysters served fresh and in a variety of delicious dishes.

Location: Bluff, South Island


  • Fresh Bluff oysters
  • Live music and entertainment
  • Wide selection of seafood dishes and other culinary delights

Kaikoura Seafest

Description: The Kaikoura Seafest is a celebration of the abundant marine life found off the shores of Kaikoura on the South Island. 

This annual festival features live cooking demonstrations, seafood tastings, and a variety of entertainment options, making it a fun-filled event for the whole family.

Location: Kaikoura, South Island


  • Fresh seafood tastings
  • Cooking demonstrations by local chefs
  • Live music, entertainment, and activities for all ages

These seafood markets and festivals offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in New Zealand’s seafood culture, sample the freshest catches, and experience the culinary diversity of the country’s coastal regions. 

Whether you’re browsing the stalls of a bustling market or savouring the flavours of a seafood festival, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories and discover new favourites along the way.

satisfy your seafood cravings and leave you longing for more.

Tips for Ordering Seafood in New Zealand Restaurants

When dining out in New Zealand, ordering seafood can be a delightful experience, offering the chance to indulge in the freshest catches and savour the flavours of the ocean. 

To ensure that you make the most of your seafood dining experience, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

Consider Seasonality

Description: Certain seafood species have peak seasons when they are at their freshest and most flavorful. Be sure to inquire about seasonal specials and offerings to ensure that you’re enjoying seafood at its best.

Example: In New Zealand, whitebait season runs from August to November, making it the ideal time to sample whitebait fritters and other dishes featuring this delicate delicacy.

Ask About Daily Specials

Description: Many restaurants offer daily specials that feature the freshest catches of the day. Don’t hesitate to ask your server about any seafood specials or chef’s recommendations to discover new and exciting dishes.

Example: A restaurant may have a special seafood platter featuring a variety of locally sourced seafood, providing the perfect opportunity to sample a range of flavours in one meal.

Explore Local Varieties

Description: New Zealand is home to a diverse array of seafood species, each with its own unique flavours and characteristics. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore local seafood varieties that may not be available in your home region.

Example: Try local specialties such as green-lipped mussels from Marlborough Sounds or crayfish from Kaikoura to experience the true essence of Kiwi seafood cuisine.

Opt for Sustainable Options

Description: Look for restaurants that prioritise sustainability and source their seafood from reputable suppliers. Choose dishes made with sustainably sourced seafood to support responsible fishing practices and environmental conservation efforts.

Example: Select seafood dishes that are certified by organisations such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which ensure that the seafood has been harvested or farmed in an environmentally responsible manner.

Wine Pairings for Seafood in New Zealand

New Zealand is renowned for its world-class wines, with crisp Sauvignon Blanc and elegant Pinot Noir varieties leading the pack. 

When it comes to pairing wine with seafood, the right combination can elevate your dining experience to new heights. 

Here are some of the best wine pairings to complement your seafood dishes in New Zealand:

Sauvignon Blanc

Description: Sauvignon Blanc is a signature wine of New Zealand, known for its vibrant acidity, tropical fruit flavours, and herbaceous notes. Its crisp and refreshing profile makes it an ideal pairing for a wide range of seafood dishes.

Pairing Suggestions:

  • Fresh Oysters: The bright acidity and citrus notes of Sauvignon Blanc complement the briny flavours of fresh oysters, creating a harmonious pairing that delights the palate.
  • Grilled White Fish: The zesty acidity and herbal undertones of Sauvignon Blanc cut through the richness of grilled white fish, enhancing the flavours of the seafood without overpowering it.


Description: Chardonnay is another popular choice for pairing with seafood, offering a versatile flavour profile that ranges from crisp and unoaked to rich and buttery. In New Zealand, Chardonnay wines often exhibit flavours of ripe stone fruit, citrus, and subtle oak.

Pairing Suggestions:

  • Creamy Seafood Pasta: The creamy texture and tropical fruit flavours of Chardonnay complement the richness of creamy seafood pasta dishes, creating a luxurious and indulgent pairing.
  • Lobster or Crayfish: The buttery notes and hint of oak in Chardonnay enhance the delicate sweetness of lobster or crayfish, making for a decadent and memorable dining experience.

Pinot Noir

Description: Pinot Noir is a versatile red wine that pairs beautifully with a variety of seafood dishes. In New Zealand, Pinot Noir wines are known for their bright acidity, red fruit flavours, and silky-smooth texture.

Pairing Suggestions:

  • Salmon: The vibrant acidity and red berry flavours of Pinot Noir complement the rich, oily texture of salmon, creating a balanced and harmonious pairing that is sure to impress.
  • Tuna or Swordfish: The earthy notes and silky tannins of Pinot Noir provide a lovely contrast to the meaty texture of tuna or swordfish, resulting in a satisfying and elegant pairing.

Sparkling Wine

Description: Sparkling wine, such as New Zealand’s renowned Methode Traditionnelle, adds a touch of elegance and effervescence to any seafood dining experience. With its crisp acidity and delicate bubbles, sparkling wine is a versatile option for pairing with a variety of seafood dishes.

Pairing Suggestions:

  • Seafood Platter: The refreshing acidity and effervescence of sparkling wine cleanse the palate between bites of a seafood platter, allowing you to fully appreciate the flavours of each dish.
  • Sushi and Sashimi: The light and crisp profile of sparkling wine enhances the delicate flavours of sushi and sashimi, making it an excellent choice for Japanese seafood dishes.


Description: Riesling is prized for its vibrant acidity, aromatic complexity, and versatility in pairing with a wide range of foods. In New Zealand, Riesling wines often exhibit flavours of citrus, stone fruit, and floral notes.

Pairing Suggestions:

  • Spicy Seafood Dishes: The off-dry sweetness and acidity of Riesling balance the heat and spice of dishes such as Thai seafood curry or spicy seafood stir-fry, creating a refreshing and harmonious pairing.
  • Scallops: The citrus and peach notes of Riesling complement the sweet, delicate flavour of scallops, resulting in a beautifully balanced and refreshing pairing.


With its diverse selection of world-class wines, New Zealand offers endless possibilities for pairing with seafood dishes. 

Whether you prefer a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with fresh oysters or a silky Pinot Noir with grilled salmon, there’s a perfect wine pairing waiting to enhance your seafood dining experience. 

Cheers to the culinary delights of New Zealand’s seafood and wine culture!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular seafood dishes in New Zealand?

New Zealand offers a variety of seafood delicacies, including crayfish, kina (sea urchin), scallops, pāua (abalone), green-lipped mussels, king salmon, and Bluff oysters.

Where can you find the best seafood in New Zealand?

The best seafood spots in New Zealand include The Crab Shack in Auckland, Fleur’s Place in Moeraki, Fishbone Bar & Grill in Queenstown, and The Mussel Pot in Havelock.

What is a traditional New Zealand seafood feast?

A traditional New Zealand seafood feast may include dishes like crayfish, green-lipped mussels, king salmon, pāua, scallops, and Bluff oysters, showcasing the country’s rich marine offerings.

What unique seafood experiences can you have in New Zealand?

Visitors to New Zealand can enjoy unique seafood experiences like fishing for salmon at Anatoki Salmon Farm, tasting the world-renowned Ōra King salmon, and trying local delicacies such as kina and pāua in various preparations.

Where can you experience Maori culinary traditions in New Zealand?

Rotorua is a hub for Maori cultural experiences, offering traditional Maori Hangi feasts where food is cooked underground in the traditional way. 

Tamaki Village is a popular destination for immersive cultural experiences and authentic Maori cuisine.