Up until recently, if you wanted to try authentic French cuisine in New Zealand you would find it only in the main cities (especially Auckland and Wellington). However, French-owned cafes and restaurants are now appearing in some smaller places around the country, and with great success.
Akaroa near Christchurch is a small town that was settled by the French and retains a very French flavor. There are several stylish French cafes to be found there.
In the North Island, two towns that offer a great French experience are Whakatane and Taupo. L'Epicerie in Whakatane is a small deli and cafe with a growing reputation that is well worth a visit if you are heading down the east coast of the North Island.
The newest addition is the French Cafe in Taupo. Eating here really is like stepping into a Parisian cafe with food, decor and service that is all distinctively French. It's a great addition to the busy cafe scene of this great central North Island town.
It's one of the featured cafes in my Guide to the Best Cafes and Coffee in Taupo