Hello from California!
My wife and I will be traveling to your neck of the woods next week for a fun 2 and a half week adventure. We'd like to accompany that with some tasty eating.
I've read plenty of postings about Sydney, so I have a few places in mind (Harry's for a meat pie I hear is something to try, and a Mod Oz style restaurant, for example), plus, we'll be staying with some relatives in Sydney who love food, so I don't think I'll be needing many recommendations. We'll be in town for about 5 nights.
However, for the other cities... Cairns, Q-town, Rotorua, and Auckland. The postings are pretty slim and/or old. We'll be in Cairns for 2 nights, Queenstown for 3, Rotorua for 1, and Auckland for 1 night.
The only food limitations are that my wife won't eat pork and I'm probably allergic to eggplant (aubergine).
While we'll probably try some some touristy "bush tucker" at some point (since some meats like emu and 'roo you just can't find all that often in the states....and you don't see slipper lobsters on menus out here... aka those moreton bay bugs), I'd be happy with some good suggestions in any food category (simply grilled fish place, french, chinese, filipino, indian, italian, etc.). Pricewise, I'd like to spend less than $40-50 AU on a meal (or $55-65 NZ) for 2 people (no alcohol), and, more if it's very high end.. I'm not sure if this is a realistic budget (so please give me an idea what is realistic to spend). The suggestions don't have to be high end, fine dining. Also, for a more formal dining type restaurant, what's the acceptable dress code (in California, you can pretty much wear jeans and a polo shirt, but in New York, you should be wearing a coat/tie)?
And, since we'll be on-the-go quite a bit, if there are any regional (or Australia/NZ only) fast-food sandwich type shops we can hit up that you like (not Subway though)... or, if there are any grocery stores that you would recommend (or avoid). For example, in Cairns, we probably will hit up Rusty's (we'll be there on a weekend) to get some local, fresh fruit.
Oh, and what is the tipping/gratuity etiquette in each country for standard service at restaurants? I've read that you really don't tip in either country unless perhaps you're in a huge group or at a finer dining establishment and you loooved the service (and, then, maybe consider 10%).
Lastly, I love Chowhound (but, the postings are kinda few and far between)... So, if there is another popular food review website for Aussies or Kiwis that you could recommend for me to take a look at... that'd be appreciative. For example, a lot of people in the States use Yelp.com.