Canterbury's cuisine - like the city of Christchurch itself - is also enjoying a post-quake revival, discovers Nathan Paul.
It's hard to imagine that the colourful stool I was sitting on was once just bits of shattered wood scattered among the chaos of one of New Zealand's worst natural disasters.
The table, and even the three-dimensional piece of art hanging from the wall at the Shop Eight restaurant in Christchurch's CBD, were also made from salvaged waste from the 2011 earthquake that claimed 185 lives.
But the restaurant's ethos is symbolic of the region's desire to rebuild and regenerate from the once-in-a-generation disaster.
In fact, it's an attitude foodies across the region are embracing as the rebuild continues.
I spent about a week touring Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury region of the South Island, enjoying its vast culinary delights.
With an emphasis on the foraging craze - where restaurateurs fish in waters or pick vegetables in paddocks close to home - it was a week of treating my taste buds to the freshest foods the region had to offer.
Our first night was spent at Roots Restaurant - a cosy 20-seater eatery in the port town of Lyttelton, about 20 minutes drive from Christchurch - that had just won Restaurant of the Year at the Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards.
There's no menu at Roots.
Owner Guilio Sturla uses what ingredients he can gather locally to produce a multi-course degustation menu with matching wines that can change daily, depending on what he has at his disposal.
He admitted it had been tough going since boldly opening in the wake of the earthquake, with some customers even shouting at him for his bold approach of deciding what they eat for them.
But the focus on fresh food sourced within the Canterbury region was nothing unique.
During a trip up to the idyllic seaside town of Kaikoura, we stopped at one of several roadside caravans parked along the beachfront selling fresh seafood.
With the waves crashing next to us as the snow-capped Southern Alps loomed from afar, we sat at simple picnic benches and dined on seafood chowder, mussels, grilled fish, as well as whitebait, crayfish and paua fritters.
We then went up a few notches in the luxury stakes after being treated to a night in the opulent Hapuku Tree Houses, complete with our own sauna, fireplace and warmed stone floors in our individual huts in the sky.
The shower revealed a breathtaking vista of the galloping deer on the lush green fields of the property and the mountains, which looked more like a postcard than something actually on the horizon.
Those deer running around usually end up on guests' plates, as we found out later that night when we tucked into our venison loins, complete with blueberries in a port reduction on a gratin of agria potatoes and porcini mushrooms.
Hapuku's manager, Chris Sturgeon, whose wife - former New Zealand MasterChef contestant Fiona Read - cooked the meal, informed us the deer we chowed down on were themselves grazing in the fields a few hundred metres from the restaurant only three weeks earlier.
Again, it was a similar theme as each place we visited could tell us where in the region they had sourced their ingredients.
We were on our way to the southern Canterbury region, including the picturesque Lake Tekapo, but a sudden snow storm scuttled those plans. Instead, we sought refuge at Fat Albert Smokehouse in Fairlie, warming up with hot tea and servings of smoked salmon, chorizo and venison before backtracking.
It was because of our retreat back to Christchurch to avoid the storm that I ended up at Shop Eight, nibbling on my pig head sausage with beans and kale as I listened to owner Liz Phelan tell us about her partnership with the Rekindle project, which reuses waste products, particularly from the earthquake.
It was then I truly appreciated the important role the food industry played in the region's rebuild.
Large parts of Christchurch's CBD still look like a bomb has hit it. When locals discuss an event, they speak in terms of pre-quake and post-quake. But the disaster has given the community the opportunity to do things better.
Buildings are being rebuilt far beyond code, designated precincts are going up and world-class art and entertainment hubs are popping up among the demolition sites and construction zones. And with the region's food industry, it's no different.
Canterbury's best eating
• Roots Restaurant, Lyttelton: this cosy award-winning restaurant in Lyttelton serves up a degustation menu only, using fresh local ingredients including paua, kumara, flounder and duck.
• Seafood caravans, Kaikoura (including Nin's Bin and Kaikoura Seafood BBQ): Feast beachside on fresh seafood, including crayfish, paua, mussels and whitebait.
• Black Estate Winery, Waipara Valley: Sit in the winery's black barnyard overlooking the serene vineyard while enjoying a great selection of wines matched to locally-sourced dishes like smoked salmon, organic roasted root vegetables, seared venison medallions and goat's cheese tart.
• King of Snake, Christchurch: A success story after the earthquake, the modern restaurant serves up a range of Asian dishes, but is known for its signature King of Snake cocktail - a spicy vodka-based drink packed with ginger and chilli.
• Shop Eight, Christchurch: The menu changes regularly to reflect available fresh items, but examples include pig head sausages, oxtail terrine, roast artichoke and sauerkraut made in-house.
The writer was a guest of Canterbury and Christchurch Tourism.