It’s the last long weekend for a while, so many of us will be making the most of the public holiday by satisfying our wanderlust with a domestic mini-break, especially since overseas travel is on hold. One of the best parts of traversing the country is sampling the amazing eateries New Zealand has to offer and, luckily for us, we’re spoiled for choice when we step outside the usual culinary stomping grounds. For your long weekend gastronomic pleasure we have compiled a mouth-watering selection of the best cafes and restaurants, from Paihia to Queenstown and several stops in between.
With unparalleled waterfront vistas, an assortment of delicious sharing plates, and an impressive cocktail menu featuring the all-important expertly-made Negroni, this charming addition to the far north has become a regular stop on any discerning road-tripping itinerary.
This eatery in Kuaotunu, Whitianga, is the ultimate laid-back destination adored by holiday goers from all parts of The Coromandel. Admire the million dollar view as you enjoy craft beers and devour smoky wood-fired pizzas.
The Shaw Road destination is so much more than just a perfect coffee refuelling stop, set to the sounds of the rolling surf. While the fish and chips are truly excellent, the Kai Moana pizza with mussels, fresh fish, calamari, lemon pepper and aioli is unbeatable and best devoured with feet firmly planted in the sand. Add it to your long weekend bucket list.
The Oyster Inn
It’s always been a must-visit, but the Oyster Inn has been given a new lease on life with renowned New Zealand chef Josh Emett taking the reins in February this year. With a fresh winter menu, including mouth-watering Sunday roasts, we can’t think of a better excuse to hop on the ferry and embrace island life.
Quite likely the best thing to happen to the ‘Tron since the Botanical Gardens, Lisa and Brent Quarrie’s cafe by day and gastro pub by night — complete with glittering hand-blown Monmouth glass pendants overhead — is a beacon of hope for the burgeoning artisanal food scene here. What more would you expect from the owners of the award-winning River Kitchen.
Banh Mi Caphe
Hamilton natives Anh and Pat Chaimontree do an outstanding job plying the people of Hamilton with their delicious Vietnamese fare. Trained in the addictive cuisine since watching her grandmother cook as a child, Anh has carefully honed her craft to creatively deliver flavoursome, family style food, from street dishes through to fresh noodles and salads.
The Shack Raglan
The perfect spot en route to the West Coast beach, it’s easy to see why The Shack is a favourite among locals. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the rustic menu is filled with coastal favourites like lightly crumbed fish with avocado smash, cactus and caper slaw, jalapeño and lime mayo along with the chia pudding with coconut yoghurt, watermelon, lime, pineapple and mango.
Hallertau Beer Garden
There’s no denying that the titivated incarnation of this long established brewery is worthy of an afternoon in Riverhead. With an outdoor kitchen serving up everything from pizzas to dry-rubbed pork ribs dripping with Hallertau cider BBQ sauce, you’ll come for the giant connect four in the playground and stay for the brewed on-site beer-fuelled carousing.
It would be rude not to visit Palace if you were taking a trip to the Mount. This burger restaurant is a Mt. Maunganui icon and some dedicated Aucklanders claim that they have driven down JUST to get a taste of its double cheeseburger. (It’s that good.)
McLeod’s Pizza Barn
Sampling the tasty lineup of brews at McLeod’s Pizza Barn is crucial to any traveller but so is getting stuck into their pizzas. Try the Classic Margherita with basil, tomato, buffalo mozzarella and truffle oil, the Cooper topped with herb-roasted chicken, bacon, mushrooms, sun-dried tomato and parmesan cheese, or the Workhorse — a delicious combination of salami, pepperoni, artichoke, onion, gherkin, capsicum and olive tapenade.
Run by none other than Mr Vinci himself, this Napier hotspot is serving up pizza pie just as it should be; big, thin-crusted and extremely tasty. Lord knows we love a good piece of the Capricciosa.
Fresh, foraged flavours are what you will find at Napier’s contemporary restaurant, Bistronomy. The menu changes along with the season and the dishes only feature the best of the best ingredients, ensuring that everything that comes out of its kitchens is top quality.
Offering a modern take on Asian hawker-style fare, Mr Go’s mince and cheese dumplings have already caused quite the stir in the windy capital. Do not leave without ordering some skewers, a generous steamy bao or two and a Pink Holler — the genius gin cocktail featuring jasmine tea and Prosecco.
Child Sister is serving classic cafe fare with a contemporary twist. Tying in inspiration from cuisines around the world, including Middle Eastern, Mexican and Korean, this delicious eatery with a global outlook is a welcome addition to the food scene.
With a menu inspired by the intricate cooking techniques of Northern Italy and showcasing premium, Central Otago produce, Aosta is the South Island venture from renowned chef Ben Bayly. Putting a Kiwi spin on fine Italian food, this incredible restaurant has become a fast favourite among locals and visitors alike.
The Lodge Bar
An extension of the Rodd & Gunn clothing empire, The Lodge Bar is the place to sample the best food and wine our country has to offer. Located on the lakefront side of their retail store, the picturesque setting is made all the better by the seasonal menu, designed by famed Kiwi chef Matt Lambert of New York City’s Michelin-starred Musket Room.
While Northern Hemisphere travel is off-limits, Earl will transport you with its European bistro-style classics and warm, welcoming atmosphere. The all-day eatery and wine bar is a must-visit for fans of unpretentious food with an emphasis on flavour and premium ingredients.
No matter the season, a woodfired pizza and a couple of beers at Hone’s Garden always hits the spot. Located in the heart of Russell, we recommend exploring the charming town by foot, then parking up at a picnic table where you’ll be well taken care of.