New Zealand Travel: Expert Advice on What to See, Do and Eat in Arrowtown

Dine in Little Aosta this fall, then explore Arrowtown and beyond. Photo / Queenstown, New Zealand

The team behind Arrowtown’s Aosta has a new baby in the works – Little Aosta. Serving fresh Italian dishes and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere, it’s right next door to its older sibling. Here, chefs Ben Bayly, Steve Sepsy, Giulio Barducci and storefront Vanessa Cagnola recommend Arrowtown’s best fall restaurants and activities.

Why should visitors come to Petit Aoste?

Well: Little Aosta is simple, accessible, affordable and delicious Italian cuisine with wine available by the carafe – our wines are for drinking, not for thinking about! Little Aosta is designed to be where you want to go for a family meal or takeout; it’s like Nonna’s cooking, using almost exclusively local produce and produce.

The menu is divided into antipasti, wood-fired sourdough pizzetta, wood-fired meatballs and salsicce (sausage), artisan family pasta that serves 2-4, secondi (mains) that serve 2-4, and dolci (dessert ). We are open Wednesday to Sunday from 5pm, and during the winter season the restaurant will be open from 3pm for après ski drinks and snacks outside by the fire.

Some of the gastronomic delights offered at Petit Aoste.  Photo/Sam Stewart
Some of the gastronomic delights offered at Petit Aoste. Photo/Sam Stewart

Besides Little Aosta and Aosta, what are your favorite places to eat and drink in Arrowtown?

Well: I love a good breakfast and coffee at the Chop Shop – their nasi goreng with a fried egg on top is super naughty but so good, and later in the day I enjoy a pint of craft beer at The Fork and Tap.

Julian: I love going to the Dishery, especially for their Bloody Marys.

vanessa:For a good beer or a quick bite, I head to Slow Cuts.

How about Queenstown or further afield in Central Otago?

Well: I love the Sherwood, it’s such a quirky place. It’s hipster and nonchalant and the food is exceptional. Also Amisfield Restaurant & Cellar Door because I love how Chef Vaughan Mabee uses the ingredients to the fullest. And finally, Gibbston Valley Winery as it is historic with great food and wine, especially chardonnay.

Chef Ben Bayly stokes the Petit Aoste wood-fired oven.  Photo/Sam Stewart
Chef Ben Bayly stokes the Petit Aoste wood-fired oven. Photo/Sam Stewart

Julian: I enjoy a nice and easy steak and beer at Atlas in town. I’m also a big fan of Kappa and its traditional Japanese food and sake.

vanessa: My favorite place for breakfast or lunch is The Boatshed, and it has the best coffee. For a fancy dinner, I love going to Jervois Steakhouse and the cocktails there are amazing. For a more casual meal, nothing better than Yonder.

Steve: I love a little getaway up Wānaka Hill, and Kika has been one of my favorites for years.

When you have a day off, what is your favorite activity?

Well: In the summer, I love hiking in Arrowtown. The Sawpit Gully track is a favourite, you can be minutes from Arrowtown and feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere with great views over the Whakatipu Basin.

In the winter, we chefs are known to jump in the car and ski quickly in the afternoon before dinner service.

Julian: I’m a wine lover so I like to attend wine tastings at all the different wineries in Cromwell.

vanessa: I love taking my former roommate’s dog (I babysit him at least once a week) for long walks around Lake Hayes and Shotover. It’s the perfect companion, not least because it doesn’t bother me while I’m listening to my favorite podcast.

Chef Giulio Barducci loves doing wine tastings in downtown Otago on his days off from the restaurant.  Photo/Sam Stewart
Chef Giulio Barducci loves doing wine tastings in downtown Otago on his days off from the restaurant. Photo/Sam Stewart

Steve: Warmer days are good for swimming in the Arrow River or picking fruit in Roxburgh. When it comes to winter, there’s only one thing I want to do: chase that snow.

What is your favorite off-the-beaten-path spot in the region and why should visitors visit it?

Well: Macetown is an abandoned gold mining town 30 minutes by 4×4 or a few hours walk up the Arrowtown River. It’s amazing to see the original buildings from the late 1800’s. There is no other place like it in New Zealand. There are also wild hops growing there that people (including our team) climb and harvest to make craft beer – the same hops the gold miners planted back in the day.

vanessa: I love the hiking trails around Bob’s Cove. The scenery is amazing whatever the weather and it’s perfect for a bit of solitude.

Steve: Moke Lake is only 45 minutes from Arrowtown with excellent DoC camping and beautiful lake walks. I’ve heard the fishing is going to be amazing in 2023 thanks to the Rainbow Trout Release Program, and I can’t wait to put one or two on the BBQ.

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