The 5 Best Restaurants
With its population of just over 200,000 residents, Wellington may not seem like the obvious choice as New Zealand’s capital city.
The harbour city was settled upon as the nation’s capital in 1865 to settle a decade-long argument between Okiato and Auckland for the country’s top spot.
But don’t let its modest size fool you. Found between the North and South Islands in a nook cradled by craggy peaks on one side and the Cook Strait on the other, Wellington has earned its title of ‘the coolest little capital in the world’.
One of the the best ways to discover Wellington is to taste your way through it. Between laneways lined with food vendors, trendy cafés and market stalls brimming with seafood, prepare your taste buds (and stomach) for a feast.
Below I’ve outlined the city’s specialties and a few of my favourite restaurants that will work up your appetite.
The Craft Beer Capital of NZ
Connoisseurs of all things hops, barley and malt will have a field day scoping out what’s on tap in Wellington.
Garage Project Brewery caught the attention of the craft beer world when it launched over 40 different types of beer in its first year of production.
Eyebrow-raising brews include a Cereal Milk Stout and Creamy Milk Chocolate beer. You can sample from their 18 rotating draughts at their taproom on Aro Street.
Cafés and Coffee Roasters
If there’s one thing the citizens of Wellington are, it’s well-caffeinated. In 2017, CNN named Wellington one of the 8 of the world’s best cities for coffee, a list that included big contenders in the world of cafés like Vienna and Rome.
While you’ll be hard-pressed to find your favourite American coffee chain here, what you will discover are tons of independent shops using locally roasted beans headed by masterful baristas.
To order your drink like a New Zealander, ask for a flat white: a smooth, micro-foamed latté and a staple in any Kiwi’s morning routine.
This is one seriously delicious street and a great place to head to for regional treats to bring back home and sample local flavours.
Found between Leeds and Eva Streets, Hannah’s Laneway sees boutique shops selling everything from artisanal chocolates, homemade peanut butter, handcrafted sodas, beer, coffee and slices of pizza to grab on the go.
Colourful and lively, it’s a cool spot to pass a leisurely afternoon.
Fresh plates of seafood and contemporary Kiwi fare fill the menu at WBC.
Established in 2013, WBC (which stands for Wholesale Boot Company) is housed in a former boot factory from the 1920s.
A mix of tables and chairs as well as banquette seating combine cozy and chic in a laid-back atmosphere.
Check out this local’s haunt for creative seafood dishes like Kingfish ceviche with avocado and Vietnamese mint, and Crayfish risotto with Kina butter and foraged sea vegetables.
Egyptian floor tiles paired with an ocean motif and vintage decor make for a hip and intimate setting with a Mediterranean-style vibe.
Set in a white Victorian-style house, Boulcott St Bistro and Winebar combines classic bistro meals with a contemporary twist. Choose from an à la carte or a set menu that includes classic cuts of beef and daily market catches.
Complement your choice with a local beer or a Marlborough Sauv Blanc from an impressive drink list. Chef Rex Morgan and his team are happy to accommodate any special requests or dietary requirements.
For prime New Zealand produce and seafood, make a reservation at Whitebait.
Their house fishmonger carefully selects and filets every piece of fish and ensures to only offer what’s in season.
They’re so focused on local, that you might even find the chefs foraging for mushrooms on Mount Victoria or skimming for seaweed on the beach! Ingredients are cooked over a charcoal-fired oven, allowing their flavours to shine through.
The delightful simplicity extends to a neutral decor and views over the Wellington waterfront.
If fine dining is what you’re after, be sure to visit Logan Brown.
With a deep passion for the country’s environmental state, their menu uses only sustainable ingredients and strictly avoids seafood from fishing dredges or at risk species (meaning you won’t find any bluefin tuna here).
Serving both lunch and dinner, they offer an early seating for the pre-theatre crowd as well as a 5-course Chef’s tasting menu.