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Wellington’s reputation as New Zealand’s culinary capital is well-deserved. Our compact CBD means that you can dine out at one of the city’s top eateries, sample local wine and craft beer and creative cocktails at one of our bars, sip award-winning coffee and try some truly unique craft brews – and then repeat again the next day.
Here’s the ultimate guide for a weekend of eating and drinking to your heart’s content in Wellington.
Arrive late afternoon or early evening and check in at your hotel.
Head straight to Garage Project’s Taproom – 91 Aro in Aro Valley to try one of their acclaimed craft beers or natural wines. Garage Project are the darlings of the Welly brewery scene and well-known for their approach of pushing boundaries, reinterpreting styles and challenging what beer – and wine – can be.
Then it’s time for dinner at Rita, an intimate eatery housed in an historic Aro Valley cottage. Bookings are essential for their two staggered seatings each evening. Rita offers a three-course set menu that changes not just by season, but by day and by mood. It's received rave reviews - Viva reviewer, Jesse Mulligan gave it a perfect score.
After dinner, stop off for a glass of local Martinborough wine at Noble Rot in Swans Lane. Noble Rot is Wellington’s award-winning wine bar which utilises Coravin Technology to offer an extensive menu of wine by the glass. It’s a great opportunity to try wines you might not otherwise; we recommend a glass of Devotus Martinborough pinot noir.
No need for breakfast today – you’re off on a walking food tour around the city with Zest Food Tours. Discover Wellington's vibrant food scene and connect with like-minded food lovers and meet the makers behind some of the city’s best food, get some local insider tips and sample to your heart’s content.
There’s nothing like a food tour to work up an appetite, so head to WBC for lunch. Located in the former factory space of the Wellington Boot Company, WBC is a busy eatery specialising in seafood and nose-to-tail eating. There's an excellent drinks list including some organic and natural wine and the top-notch service is professional and swift.
For a post-lunch stroll and some fresh air, take a walk around the city to find your favourite piece of Wellington street art or check out the public sculptures along the waterfront.
Go for a glass of wine at Glass, serving natural wine by the glass (and bottle) in a window-lined location on Chews Lane. Glass serves simple and unpretentious food and pours natural and biodynamic wines, mostly from France, but some from closer to home as well.
Then it’s time for dinner at Hiakai - earth-moving, lifechanging Māori kai by globally-acclaimed local chef Monique Fiso. The Wellington chef has received global acclaim for her Michelin-style, fine dining Māori kai. Fiso's boundary-pushing dishes are challenging the status quo of Māori food in New Zealand and advocating for a cuisine that is truly of Aotearoa.
A table at Hiakai is one of the most sought-after in Wellington, so if you miss out on a booking, don’t despair – 22 out of the top 100 restaurants in New Zealand can be found in Wellington. Check out the Cuisine Good Food Awards full list here.
On your way back to the hotel, stop off for a cocktail at Forresters Lane on Tory Street – a cocktail bar focused on using seasonal and local produce and spirits with a menu that changes weekly.
Wander down to the waterfront for breakfast at the Harbourside Market. Grab a coffee and join the locals in browsing the fresh, seasonal produce. There’s an array of choices of what to have for breakfast, so the only sensible thing to do is have break breakfast down into multiple courses: start with a freshly squeezed juice, follow with a Golden Bay mussel fritter sandwich from Food for the People, and end with a freshly made crepe and another coffee for good measure. Don’t miss watching as locals buy fish directly from the fishing boat that moors beside the market each Sunday.
After breakfast, go for a stroll around the waterfront to Oriental Bay or up to Mt Victoria, stopping by Moore Wilson’s to pick up some must-have Wellington pantry essentials – Fix & Fogg peanut butter, Wellington Chocolate Factory chocolate, Garage Project beer and some fresh locally roasted coffee beans.
Stop off for lunch at The Larder on your way out of town – a suburban Wellington eatery that has consistently won accolades for its thoughtful, creative and innovative dishes and its outstanding service. The Larder’s menu is produce-driven and reflects the seasons with a commitment to 'nose to tail eating'.
Best time for food lovers to visit Wellington
It’s always a good time to eat and drink in Wellington, with plenty of new places to try and oldies but goodies to revisit or discover for the first time. August is a particularly good time with Wellington’s two major food and drink festivals taking place.
Best hotels for food lovers
Staying right in the heart of Wellington’s compact CBD means that good eating and drinking is right on your doorstep, but just in case you fancy dining in (or room service!), why not stay at one of Wellington’s hotel with acclaimed restaurants.