With more cafes per head than New York City, there is not really anything that you won’t find when it comes to choosing what to eat in Wellington. Eateries serving cuisine from all over the world litter the streets and vary from small ethnic cafes to internationally acclaimed restaurants. It is little wonder then, that as well as being the geographical capital, the city is also the food and wine capital of New Zealand.
Despite this prestigious status, however, the good news is that it is possible to eat well for very little if you know where to look. The most popular areas among backpackers and budget travellers are the Courtenay Place and Cuba Street areas but don’t worry, just because the prices are cheaper does not mean that either the quality or quantity is any less impressive than in the more expensive restaurant. In fact, the food is just as good and the atmosphere is usually much friendlier.
If you’re wondering exactly what the locals enjoy when they frequent the host of eateries on offer then wonder no more. Typical New Zealanders have a penchant for meat and dairy produce and beef, lamb and pork feature on most menus. Fish is also extremely popular and the favourites include snapper, John Dory and trout. There are also a number of seasonal maritime specialties including whitebait, crayfish, oysters and scallops. And for desert, the traditional favourite is pavlova topped with fruit and cream.
As well as the host of cafes, restaurants, bars and brasseries on offer, Wellington is also home to a number of festivals which attract food buffs from all over the world. If you visit in mid November, check out the New Zealand Food and Wine Festival which is held at the Civic Square. A couple of weeks later the Martinborough festival takes place about one hour north of the capital. Finally, in February the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival takes place in Blenheim which lies about one hour south of Wellington.
306 Tinakori Road, Wellington, New Zealand
Serving up a superb selection of pastas made fresh on the premises daily as well a host of unique sauces which are certainly well worth experimenting with. Also has a take away service.
97 Dixon Street, Wellington, New Zealand
Excellent American style diner but not excessively so. Great burgers, shakes and other authentic US delights and all at really good prices. Also fully licensed.
203 Cuba Street, Wellington, New Zealand
For cheap but really satisfying Turkish specialties check this city centre eatery out where the most expensive main courses will only cost $12 and the kebabs are enormous.
41 Cuba Street, Wellington, New Zealand
The only problem with this place is that there are too many dishes to choose from. With a vast menu catering for everyone’s tastes as well as a selection of set menus which are really good value, this is definitely one worth calling on during your stay.
119 Manners Street, Wellington, New Zealand
The only restaurant of its kind in the city, this is another one with a whole host of specialties on offer and again, prices are very appealing to those on a tight budget.
Freyberg Lagoon, Oriental Bay, Wellington, New Zealand
For a rather special seafood treat, this is the perfect location. The city’s only floating restaurant, it offers great views of Wellington and the harbour but booking is recommended and prices are a little higher than average which is pretty understandable.
148 Oriental Parade, Wellington, New Zealand
Former winner of New Zealand’s café of the year competition this is a bright and breezy café with a full bar, a restaurant area and an outdoor seating area when suitable. Also opens for breakfast.
Wills Street Village, 142 Wills Street, Wellington, New Zealand
A typical example of what New Zealand restaurants used to look like, this is a big saloon-style steakhouse with an open barbecue and gigantic meals which you will find extremely difficult to finish. Also fully licensed.
179 Cuba Street, Wellington, New Zealand
The most popular veggie haunt in the city, main courses cost an average of $10, something that nobody can have any complaints about. Pale décor, soothing music and plenty of space make this place comfortable and airy and very appealing.
25 Kent Street, Wellington, New Zealand
Finally, for the best deserts in town head to this restaurant which dedicates its full attention to the host of treats on offer. Death by Chocolate comes highly recommended by the way.