Aotearoa/New Zealand, a land of breathtaking landscapes, is also home to a vibrant and diverse culinary scene. As travelers, we've had the pleasure of exploring this gastronomic paradise, and we're here to share our findings. From the bustling city eateries to the quaint countryside bistros, we've compiled a list of the top restaurants NZ has to offer.
The French Café, Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau
When discussing the best restaurant in New Zealand, The French Café in Auckland invariably comes up. This iconic establishment combines the elegance of French cuisine with a distinct Kiwi twist. The ambiance is as delightful as the kai(food), making it a must-visit for any food enthusiast.
Nestled in the heart of Queenstown, Rata is a gem that shines brightly among New Zealand's top restaurants. The menu, curated by renowned chef Josh Emett, is a celebration of local produce. The dishes are as visually stunning as they are delicious, making Rata a hākari, or feast, for all senses.
The Grove, Auckland Central
The Grove, another Auckland-based culinary marvel, is a testament to Aotearoa's restaurant scene's diversity. This Michelin-starred establishment offers a unique fusion of traditional and contemporary cuisine. The wine list is equally impressive, featuring selections from New Zealand's top vineyards.
Fleur's Place, Moeraki
For those seeking local kai spots with a rustic charm, Fleur's Place in Moeraki is the perfect destination. This famous restaurant is renowned for its fresh seafood, sourced directly from local fishermen. The picturesque views of the harbor add to the overall dining experience.
Whitebait in Wellington is a haven for kaimoana/seafood lovers. This waterfront restaurant offers a menu that changes with the seasons, ensuring the freshest ingredients. The innovative dishes and the stunning views of the harbor make Whitebait one of the best restaurants in NZ.
The Sugar Club, Auckland
Perched on the 53rd floor of Auckland's Sky Tower, The Sugar Club offers more than just food - it offers an experience. The panoramic views of the “The Big Smoke”, coupled with the restaurant's art deco-inspired interiors, create a unique dining atmosphere. The menu is a delightful mix of local and international flavors, making it a must-visit spot.
Roots Restaurant, Lyttelton
Roots Restaurant in Lyttelton is a testament to New Zealand's commitment to sustainability. This award-winning establishment sources its ingredients from local farmers, foragers, and gardeners. The result is a menu that's as sustainable as it is delicious.
Sails Restaurant, Auckland
Sails Restaurant is a gem located in the heart of Westhaven Marina, beside the Harbour Bridge. It offers breathtaking views of the harbour, creating a dining experience that captures the essence of the city. The restaurant is renowned for its seafood-focused menu, but also includes New Zealand’s finest beef and lamb, products for which Aotearoa is widely-acclaimed.
Ahi is another top restaurant located in Auckland Central. While details about its cuisine are not specified, it has received high praise and positive reviews from diners.
Paris Butter, Auckland
Paris Butter represents the new wave of fine dining. The restaurant, led by Chef Nick Honeyman and Chef Zennon Wijlens, offers innovative and interpretive modern New Zealand cuisine adapted to local ingredients and culture.
Tatsumi is a highly-rated restaurant located in Queenstown. While the specifics of its menu are not detailed, it has garnered positive reviews from visitors.
The Bunker Restaurant, Queenstown
The Bunker Restaurant, hidden away, like the native kiwi bird, in the center of Queenstown, offers 'rustic' fine dining and a bar described as “Old School Cool”. Specializing in red meats, game, and local produce with a distinctly New Zealand flavor, it also boasts a cozy lounge atmosphere with handcrafted cocktails and an extensive wine list.
Malo, Havelock North
Malo offers a fresh approach to the Hawke’s Bay food and wine scene. Chef Bert van de Steeg combines his Dutch roots and impressive experience in Michelin star restaurants with his knowledge of his chosen home’s national and local cuisine to create food with a sophisticated, modern twist and an emphasis on local, seasonal flavors. With divine food and an exquisite cocktail list, Malo is a place to gather and enjoy Hawke’s Bay’s finest hospitality.
One Tree Grill, Auckland
One Tree Grill, is a play on the nearby “One Tree Hill” (Maungakiekie), which is one of the city’s largest volcanoes and the archaeological site of a Māori pā . With views of this site, it is one of Auckland's favorite local restaurants, offering outstanding cellared wines, innovative cuisine, and thoroughly professional service.
Jervois Steak House, Queenstown
Jervois Steak House in Queenstown is another top restaurant to consider. While the specifics of its menu are not detailed, it has received positive reviews from diners.
Christchurch Tramway Restaurant, Christchurch
The Christchurch Tramway Restaurant offers a unique dining experience, combining premium New Zealand cuisine and beverages with slow-paced travel on NZ’s only dining tramcar showcasing Christchurch's rebuilding and vibrant inner city.
Elephant Hill Wine Estate & Restaurant, Haumoana
Located in the Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand's North Island, Elephant Hill enjoys a spectacular location facing the Pacific Ocean on the Te Awanga coast. Its bistro menu is complemented by wines made from sustainably grown fruit, including its Reserve blend of merlot, malbec, and cabernet sauvignon grapes, and a superb chardonnay.
Riverstone Kitchen, Oamaru
Just north of the South Island town of Oamaru, Riverstone Kitchen is often lauded as one of New Zealand’s best regional restaurants. The menu is crafted from the restaurant’s own organic orchards and gardens, and the drink list includes wines from the nearby Waitaki Valley as well as small-batch beers from around Aotearoa.
Field & Green, Wellington
Field & Green is a popular option in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. With a versatile menu titled European Soul Food, it promises ever-changing weekly dishes that could include everything from house-made pasta with wild mushrooms and blue cheese, or baked eggs with spicy lentils and mint yogurt.
Azabu is a stylish restaurant in Auckland offering Japanese-Peruvian-fusion dishes, known as Nikkei cuisine. Standout examples on Azabu’s eclectic menu include a tuna-sashimi tostada with fiery wasabi and jalapeño, and tiger prawns with an ají amarillo mayonnaise.
Gothenburg Restaurant, Hamilton
Gothenburg is one of regional New Zealand's best restaurants, offering tapas with a global flavor, including lots of vegetarian selections. The beverage list often includes seasonal small-batch beers from local microbreweries like Brewaucracy and Shunters Yard.
Ortega Fish Shack, Wellington
Ortega is a superb place to dine in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Seafood is a major focus on the menu, with highlights including lobster-and-prawn ravioli, or sautéed pāua (New Zealand abalone) with braised pork cheek in an unctuous Asian-style sauce.
Bistronomy in Napier is one of the country’s most interesting restaurants, showcasing seasonal ingredients in its compact and stylish dining room. The drinks list presents excellent varietals from the nearby Hawkes Bay wine region.
New Zealand's culinary scene is as diverse and beautiful as its landscapes. From the bustling food restaurants in the cities to the charming eateries in the countryside, there's something for every palate. So, the next time you find yourself in this beautiful country, make sure to explore these top restaurants and discover the gastronomic delights that New Zealand has to offer.
These restaurants offer a variety of dining experiences, from fine dining to rustic charm, and showcase the best of New Zealand's culinary scene.
Frequently Asked Questions about the best views in New Zealand
What is the best restaurant in New Zealand?
The answer to this question can vary depending on personal preferences and the type of cuisine you're interested in. However, some of the top-rated restaurants in New Zealand include The French Café, The Grove, and Rata.
What types of cuisine are popular in New Zealand's top restaurants?
New Zealand's top restaurants offer a variety of cuisines, including local Kiwi dishes, seafood, European cuisine, and more. Many restaurants also focus on using fresh, local ingredients.
Are there Michelin-starred restaurants in New Zealand?
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the Michelin Guide does not cover New Zealand, so there are no Michelin-starred restaurants in the country. However, many restaurants are highly rated and offer exceptional dining experiences.
What is the average cost of a meal at a top restaurant in New Zealand?
The cost can vary widely depending on the restaurant, the type of meal (lunch or dinner), and whether you're ordering wine or other drinks. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from NZD 50 to over NZD 200 per person at a top restaurant.
Do I need to make a reservation at top restaurants in New Zealand?
Yes, it's generally a good idea to make a reservation at top restaurants in New Zealand, especially for dinner and during peak tourist season. Some restaurants may not require reservations for lunch or on weekdays.
What are the best seafood restaurants in New Zealand?
New Zealand is known for its excellent seafood. Some of the best seafood restaurants include Fleur's Place in Moeraki and Whitebait in Wellington.
Are there vegetarian or vegan options at top restaurants in New Zealand?
Yes, most top restaurants in New Zealand offer vegetarian options, and many can accommodate vegan diets as well. However, it's always a good idea to check the menu or call ahead to confirm.
What are some famous dishes I should try at New Zealand restaurants?
Some famous New Zealand dishes you might find at top restaurants include lamb, crayfish, Bluff oysters, whitebait fritters, and pavlova for dessert.
Are there top restaurants in both the North and South Islands of New Zealand?
Yes, there are top-rated restaurants throughout both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown, and Christchurch all have a variety of highly rated dining options.
What are some top restaurants in New Zealand with a view?
Many restaurants in New Zealand offer stunning views. For example, The Sugar Club in Auckland offers panoramic views of the city from the Sky Tower, and Fleur's Place in Moeraki has beautiful harbor views.