New cafes and restaurants pop up in Kaikoura like mushrooms on a damp day, but they're variable in service and all-around quality, and there's a definite lack of anything really classy. For the size of the place, though, there are more than enough casual options to choose from. Hislops Wholefoods Café, 33 Beach Rd. (tel. 03/319-6971), is an excellent cafe. It has an organic focus and the food is always great. Encounter Kaikoura, West End (tel. 03/319-6777), is my preferred hit for a delicious lunch, or coffee and a snack. They have an excellent menu, fabulous counter food, and a busy, modern environment that teems with people of all nationalities. Craypot Café, West End (tel. 03/319-6027), is well placed on the main street opposite the carpark and it's a good relaxed spot for lunch. Service can be patchy but I always enjoy their seafood chowder. Another fun, casual choice is Kaikoura Seafood Barbecue, Jimmy Armers Beach, near the end of Fyffe Quay (tel. 027/433-9691), which is a little-known treat for seafood lovers. They serve fresh scallops, mussels, whitebait, and crayfish for under NZ$25; and their stand and outdoor, umbrella-covered tables are open daily year-round from 10am until dark - unless it's raining.

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