Top Tastes is designed to help you find the best places for food and drink; whether you want delicious fish chips, beautiful café food in a winery setting, or finely crafted formal dining food this is your guide. It also contains reviews of different food and beverage products.

Top Tastes was created by Neil Hodgson and managed by him, he will be inviting other professional writers to contribute to the site, this means more regional information will be added as time goes by. You will find a range of opinions from people who know their stuff when it comes to food and beverage.

Only reviews written by this select group will be published on the site (you are welcome to leave comments of course) so you will be able to trust the review – no fake reviews, no ranting, just good information to help you choose great things to eat and drink as well as the best places to eat out.


Lighthouse Brewery

I first met Dick Tout from Lighthouse Brewery in the late 1970s when he owned RE Tout & Son, a service station on Collingwood St where the 132 Medical Centre is now. During the time he owned the service station he also bought a couple of properties that had been part of the original block […]

Winter Dining Deals in Nelson - Nelson Mail 26.05.15

Winter is a tough time for any hospitality business but in a…

Lighthouse Brewery

I first met Dick Tout from Lighthouse Brewery in the late 1970s…


Todd Stevens Neudorf Vineyards

Each year Air New Zealand supports and showcases a selection…

Autumn Roundup

Here we go with some recommendations for the cooler weather and…

New Flavour Restaurant

Dominion Road has become Auckland’s default Chinatown with…

Penati Crackers

I first met Don Grant about 22 years ago when he set up Tasman…

Barossa wines a must-see (and taste) in South Australia

The 2019 Vintage begins at Rockford Wines in the Barossa Valley,…

Sprig & Fern new bottles and Tracy Banner

From the time the independent Tasman Brewing Company made its…



Neil Hodgson

I consider myself a columnist with a particular specialty in wine and food, I have been writing about wine for The Nelson Mail since 2000 and about food and beverage since 2015. I write for several publications and taste many wines each week, some are sent as samples by wine companies, some are from our cellar, some we buy and others dinner guests bring along to share with us. I will publish tasting notes for most of them. I am a member of Wine Writers of New Zealand and devout lover of all styles of food, wine, beer and whiskey.

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Phil Parker

Wine journalist and published author, Phil Parker has a wine career involving both writing and hosting Auckland region wine tours. He established Auckland’s original boutique wine tour business, Fine Wine Tours in 2001. Phil writes a regular monthly column for Auckland’s Ponsonby News, plus a quarterly medical industry glossy magazine wine column. He has also written freelance articles for the NZ Herald and Homestyle magazine, plus he regularly posts wine related stories on his blog.

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Simon Wood

Simon Wood, the son of the late NZ wine merchant and writer Hugh Wood, has been involved in the NZ wine and beers industries in retail, consultancy and writing on and off for 25 years. He lives in the idyllic small Waikato town of Te Aroha with his partner and their 2 rescue cats. His mother Bev is a children’s and travel writer who also used to write wine columns.

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About our Contributors

To ensure the integrity of reviews and comments made by contributors we adhere to:

  • Contributors to the website do not accept payment for reviews, all reviews are unbiased and the
    opinion of the contributor.
  • Contributors are not paid by Top Tastes but some of the reviews may have been published
    previously by the contributor in a publication that paid for the content.
  • Contributors don’t have a commercial interest in any of the producers/restaurants/bars/cafes they choose to review.
  • Contributors pay their own way for meals, travel and products unless they declare in the review ‘I was hosted by.…’
  • Samples are often sent to contributors without being sought, these are reviewed in a totally
    independent manner.
  • To keep this site free to all users we do accept advertising, however, any product, producer or
    place being reviewed can not advertise on this site for a period of six months after the publication date of any review that includes them.