Where to eat and drink in Wellington
Wellington isn’t just the capital city of New Zealand – it’s also the nation’s culinary capital, with a world-renowned range of bars, cafes and restaurants to cater for all tastes and cravings.
In fact, it’s been claimed that New Zealand has more eateries and bars per capita than New York City. And while we haven’t checked the maths on that, we can confirm the city’s reputation as the foodie hub of Aotearoa is well-deserved.
Here’s our round-up of the best of the best in Wellington.
But first, coffee
If you want to feel bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready to take on a day of exploring all that Wellington has to offer, coffee is going to be an absolute must. (Unless, of course, you’re one of those enviable unicorns who doesn’t need coffee to function, in which case you can skip to the next section.)
Luckily, Wellington has a strong coffee culture, and no matter where you are, you’re likely only a stone's throw away from a good cup of joe.
For those who take their coffee seriously, Flight Coffee’s Hangar isn’t one to miss. As a venue that started as a car park roaster and coffee shop for enthusiasts of the Flight Coffee brand, it’s now a bustling, fully fledged eatery, where people come for the coffee and stay for the coffee-focused chatter.
Looking for a unique experience? Look no further than Fidel’s Café. This popular spot, which can only be described as a Wellington institution, matches an excellent pour with quirky decor and a Cuban flair.
If you’re after coffee with a conscience, People’s Coffee should be your go-to. They exclusively source organic and fair trade coffee to guarantee exceptional taste, environmental stewardship, and fairness for those who cultivate it.
Avo great brunch
Brunch is a holiday essential. Why, you might ask? Well, because you can get your sleep in and still fuel your stomach for the day ahead. It’s the best of both worlds.
Known for its versatility, Wellington's brunch scene will satisfy your savoury and/or sweet desires – because why limit yourself, right?
Maranui Café is located in a historic surf lifesaving club and offers views of Lyall Bay to go with its well-known brunch offerings. You can eat up and then walk off the food coma along the shoreline.
The main meal
Now we’re talking. Holidays certainly give you an excuse to treat yourself, and Wellington has the acclaimed dining options to help you do just that.
Oak & Vine is the perfect spot in Wellington’s CBD to indulge, if we do say so ourselves. Executive Chef Rajesh Barwal has a reputation for blending the taste of contemporary Kiwi cuisine with a touch of cultural fusion, so diners enjoy the best of both worlds.
Prepared on an open grill, Oak & Vine Wellington’s premium offerings – from 21 Days Aged Lumina Lamb Rump and Grass Fed Eye Fillet to mouthwatering Slow Braised Pork Belly, Truffle Risotto and more – showcase the finest seasonal produce the region has to offer.
A communal dining experience where share plates are best served and enjoyed with friends and family, Oak & Vine is also a great place to relax and watch the hustle and bustle of Wellington’s iconic Courtenay Place go by – all while you kick back with a signature cocktail, a glass of Wellington’s finest wine or a local craft beer.
Other popular local spots include Capitol Restaurant, a longstanding Wellington institution focused on seasonal produce that’s authentic, fresh, pure and uncluttered, letting the local ingredients really shine.
Boulcott Street Bistro has also paid its dues – the bistro and well-stocked wine bar, located in a beautiful Victorian-style cottage, has been a favourite of Wellington locals for over three decades now.
Of course, New Zealand is known for its incredible seafood, with the crayfish, king salmon and green-lipped mussels always exceeding their reputation. Ortega Fish Shack & Bar offers a must-have seafood-focused fine dining experience, with an emphasis on fresh and local produce.
And for a unique experience, you can’t go past Pacifica Kaimoana. While a bit off-the-beaten-path, this establishment offers an outstanding dining experience that combines traditional Māori ingredients with modern cooking techniques. It’s sure to be a meal you’ll write home about.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
You wouldn’t really be on holiday if you weren’t filling up your dessert stomach on the regular, would you? And Wellington certainly knows its way around a sweet treat.
Do not – and we mean do not – leave Wellington without trying a Shelly Bay Baker salted caramel cookie. While there are plenty of other delightful temptations on display, the salted caramel cookie is by far the crowd favourite.
Drink in the good vibes
From cocktail o’clock to wine time, from rooftop terraces to relaxed bars, Wellington has plenty of places to choose from when you want to wet your whistle – from the cosy dining room and bar at the aforementioned Oak & Vine Wellington to a range of must-do wine bars and breweries.
If it’s a wine with a view that you’re after, then the Arborist Rooftop Bar is a great choice. It boasts a fantastic rooftop view to pair with a great selection of both local and international wines. But if you’re looking for something with a more intimate vibe, then you can curl up with a glass of wine and a good book at The Library.
Not a wine lover? Feel like a beer instead? No problem – The Malthouse has been at the forefront of the Wellington craft beer scene since the early ‘90s, with 30+ craft beers on tap and another 80+ in their fridges.
Little Beer Quarter lives up to its name. This little slice of heaven is hidden away in the Edward St Precinct with 13 rotating taps, two handpulls, one nitro tap and over 100 beers in the fridge, paired with a classic gastro-pub menu.
If cocktails are more your thing, there’s no shortage of bars in Wellington for both the cocktail connoisseur and cocktail curious. Hawthorn Lounge has cultivated a stylish, speakeasy atmosphere, while Hanging Ditch has over 150 liqueurs and spirits hanging from the roof, so you know good vibes and delicious drinks are a done deal.
Planning your stay? Oaks Wellington Hotel is the perfect home base, with a range of culinary excellence right on your doorstep.