When State Highway 1 finally was finally declared open at the start of the year, foodies were among the first to travel along the Kaikōura coastal road.
The South Island crustaceans are so delicious they have earned the South Island town a place on The Lonely Planet's recently published Eatlist for 2018.
On the list of 500 top food experiences, the crayfish land at No 7.
The guide placed the New Zealand seafood above such international staples as the Neapolitan pizza and Hong Kong dim sum, and urged foodie tourists to "visit the New Zealand coast where the crayfish is so good they named a town after it". Kaikōura translates as "to eat crayfish".
The Eatlist recomends the iconic Nin's Bin as one of the top places for crayfish with a view. Tucked into the coastline it serves food out of a blue and white painted caravan, where locals "hunker over fresh crayfish and mussels with a view over the Pacific Ocean".
The shellfish aren't New Zealand's only contribution to the list. Whitebait fritters appear at a respectable 54 on the list, with the hangi earth oven (304), Hokitika Wildfoods Festival (346), manuka honey (438) and the pavlova (429) were recognised as a Kiwi delicacy, to much protest from across the Tasman.
The US-based guides compiled the list from a food-obsessed travel writers and bloggers who named their "most authentic gastronomic encounters".
A big part of this was the travel experience. The final menu of 500 was ordered according to "taste of the dish, its cultural importance, and the special atmosphere of the location".
Kaikōura had all the ingredients the panel were after, particularly the location.
The stunning coastal road between Christchurch and Picton has often featured as one of the world's most scenic drives. Though much of the drive was cut off, following the Kaikōura earthquake in 2016.
Having just reopened the track at the beginning of the year, the recognition is welcome. The region's gastronomic heritage and world-class experiences, such as a crayfish with an ocean view, have a big role in opening up the area again.
The Top 10
1. Pintxos in San Sebastián, Spain:
"If there's a better way to explore a culture's cuisine…we'll eat our shorts. The simple…ones…blow your mind – battered white asparagus, a tuna and anchovy tart or…mushrooms braised with garlic."
2. Curry laksa in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:
"Here are fantastic little hawker centres tucked into the shadows of towering skyscrapers, and…you'll come across competing curry laksa stalls vying for your attention."
3. Sushi in Tokyo, Japan:
"Take your time and interact with the chef; it's a perfect opportunity to learn more about this ancient culinary art."
4. Beef brisket in Texas, USA:
"Keep it simple, and cook it 'low and slow' in oak-wood smoke until it's fall-apart tender and encased in a thin, salty crust."
5. Som tum in Bangkok, Thailand:
"Rarely does a salad generate so much hype…grabbing a plate of som tum on the street, amid traffic chaos and the stifling heat, is a rite of passage for visitors."
6. Smørrebrød in Copenhagen, Denmark:
"There are some rules…that help to elevate it to something beyond a piece of bread with toppings."
7. Crayfish in Kaikōura, New Zealand:
"Visit the New Zealand coast where the crayfish is so good they named a town after it."
8. Bibimbap in Seoul, South Korea:
"Pretty much flawless food. The ingredients are chosen for specific reasons; red chilli represents your heart, green vegetables for your liver, yellow egg yolk is for your stomach, black or dark items are there for your kidneys, and the white rice for your lungs."
9. Pizza margherita in Naples, Italy:
"To eat margherita here is reminiscent of a religious experience."
10. Dim sum in Hong Kong:
"Sample your dim sum as simply or as extravagantly as your predilections go…nowhere does it like Hong Kong."
For a chance to win the ultimate eating experience for two courtesy of Intrepid Travel's Northern Spain Real Food Adventure visit lonelyplanet.com/ultimate-eats.
Ultimate Eatlist published by Lonely Planet for $39.99 NZD