Mindfood, April 2017

John Pickens named Outstanding Chef of the Year Queenstown, 2019

New Zealand Herald, June 2017

Akarua is a well-respected winery that has teamed up with catering maestros Artisan to offer breakfast and lunch. The garden setting of historic Walnut Cottage is a treat, and there's no need to rush as the doors are open until 5pm. The menu centres on seasonal local produce; my hankering for fresh fish sees me opt for the cerviche, with its fragrant and delectable flavours of coconut, lime, chilli and coriander, served with charred bread. At $14, it's a generous starter but I supplement it by sharing a roast beet salad ($21.50), as colourful as it is delicious. A glass of Akarua wine complements the meal beautifully, as does the attentive service.

To view the full article click here.

Mirror, March 2017

This new restaurant brings together award-winning Akarua Wines and Artisan Catering by John & Debbie Pickens in Arrowtown’s historic Walnut Cottage.


The cottage has been given a freshen up.  It’s white light and bright.  Outside there are full sun options, some sheltered form the wine and a large area with a marquee alongside the wood fired pizza oven and the kids sandpit and playhouse.  It is elegant yet practical.

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Young wait staff were apologetic there was no indoor space the say we arrived with four children (it pays to book in advance) but walked us through each of the outdoor options before leaving us to make our own decision.  Similarly we were walked through the menu with specials and more obscure dishes explained.


The main menu includes options of entrees, shared plates, salads, platters & pizzas.  We went tapas style ordering some entrees and salads to share. The absolute highlight was the market fish cerviche ($12).  The monkfish was melt-in-your-mouth material, delicately marinated with parsley, lemon chilli and popped capers.

We also had chef’s choice bruschetta with tomato salsa and ricotta ($10), halloumi with chilli, watermelon, mint and pomegranate molasses ($9.50), a divine roasted beet, smoked yoghurt, charred baby onions, black quinoa and barley salad ($15.50) and some mixed garden leaves ($6.50).

A separate menu for “little people” included pizza and pasta but our lot were keen on the tasting plate including grapes, bread, cheese, salami, cucumber, carrots, hummus and a sweet treat – a healthy and happy plateful for $15.  One ordered fries ($6.50) and received an enormous bowl of shoe strings.

Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan is the essence of excellent, high class lunch dining.  The food and service were faultless.  It is pricey but the perfect spot to spend a special occasion and treat yourself to some of our region’s best.

Reviewed by Debbie Jamieson & Jo McKenzie-McLean, Mirror, March 1, 2017

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Mindfood, April 2017

Lions Media

Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan hosted the Lions Media Pack for lunch when the Lions Rugby team were in Queenstown pre-training for the last decider test match in Auckland.

The Denizen Navigator

This historic cottage makes for a beautiful setting to enjoy a leisurely long lunch. 

If it is a good dose of Southern hospitality you are after, a meal at Akarua is just that. Set in the historic ‘Walnut Cottage’ just a few minutes’ drive from Arrowtown, this relaxed eatery is a fantastic spot to stop in for breakfast, lunch or spot of wine tasting. Using only the finest ingredients, sourced from Aotearoa’s top growers, makers and artisan suppliers, the menu is a delicious selection of honest, comforting foods, all carefully matched to the stellar Akarua wines.

Surrounded by a wildflower-laden garden, the cosy setting is a calm spot to park up, blanket-on-knee and pinot-in-hand to while away the hours.

Click here for the full article.