The Best Lower South Island Food Spots

In my own humble opinion, Te Wai Pounamu (The South Island) is by far the better of both islands. Why? Aside from its breathtaking scenery, blockbuster-famous mountains, and abundance of wildlife, the food scenes down there are pretty impressive – especially as the whole population of the island is still less than Auckland alone. To prove the food scene of the south is something worthy of contention, I’ve compiled a list of the best lower South Island food spots that alone show why this is New Zealand’s favourite isle.

1. Lake Matheson Cafe 

Is there anything better than sitting down for a hot cup of joe on a cold winter’s day? Yes, actually. When that hot cup of Joe comes with post-card perfect views of Aoraki and Horokoau (Mount Tasman). Lake Matheson Cafe is the perfect pit stop for those long trips down the West Coast, and serves up some delicious treats to go with that hot drink you so desperately need to warm up! Oh, they’ve also got a little selection of trinkets from local artists for a great holiday souvenir. 

2. Burrito Craft 

Normally people flock to Wanaka for their awesome hikes, thrilling mountain bike tracks, and alpine activities – but not me. I come here for one thing and one thing only; burritos. Last year I was introduced to Burrito Craft by a good friend, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Sat in amongst a circle of other tantalising food trucks, Burrito Craft serves up killer Mexican food that feeds the belly, heart & soul. My top pick is their fish burrito; it may sound weird having fish in a burrito, but believe me, those breaded fillets fit the flavours better than carnitas any day!

3. Francesca’s Italian

Summer and Winter activities may differ, but one thing stays the same; you need a damn big serving of carbs after a whole day of them. Luckily, after you’ve set down the skis (water & snow), Francescas is right there to fill that ginormous hole in your stomach. Whether your preference is a plate of saucy pasta or a whole family-sized pizza, Francesca’s serves a huge bounty of both of these dishes to the highest quality, so you can tuck into your favourite feast knowing a flavour volcano is about to erupt. 

4. Gibbston Valley Cheese Cafe

Who, and I mean WHO, doesn’t love cheese? Even if you stick to a strict vegan or dairy-free diet, I’m almost positive you can be swayed by a good chunk of cheese. The Gibbston Valley Cheese Cafe is set within the storybook-esque Arrowtown and serves up an array of award-winning cheeses to hungry punters. Not only have they created a fine selection of cheeses to take home, they’ve also curated a whole menu based on their best-sellers. Think gooey Mac & cheese, stuffed baguette, and of course, the famous Southland cheese roll!

5. Nest Kitchen 

We’re kicking things up a notch with this hillside haven. Imagine sitting in a beautiful scandi-inspired restaurant, fire blazing, old-fashioned in hand admiring the gorgeous views of the remarkable reflected in Lake Wakatipu. At Nest, you can live this fantasy. Part of the Kamana Resort, this high-altitude restaurant offers drool-worthy a-la-carte and degustation menus for their diners to relish. With supporting seasonality & local produce being a huge ideology here, you’ll never have the same menu two months in a row, but you’ll always enjoy the highest quality ingredients.

6. Ferg Burger 

Along with soaking up remarkable views, getting stuck into alpine activities, and thrashing the luge lanes, there’s a reason people flock to the shores of Queenstown – and that’s to get their hungry mitts on one of Ferg Burger’s stacks. Over its 20 years of operating, this place has become QT’s busiest attraction, garnering lines & waits of up to 2 hours during peak season – but patience does not go without reward at this place. The burgers are big, beautiful, and full of bold flavours that keep you coming back for more.

7. Bespoke Kitchen

If Nadia Lim gets her coffee here, you know it’s good. Vegan, vegetarian, dairy & gluten-free people rejoice, as this hideout at the foothill of the gondola has all of your best interests at heart (& stomach!). Dining here is like sensory overload; from a superbly stocked cabinet that features everyone’s favourite sandwiches, bakes & cakes, to a menu full of cult-favourite classics with a bespoke twist. I recommend coming here for brunch after a long day (or night) and replenishing your energy with a big plate of pancakes and one of their fresh, fruity & rejuvenating juices.

8. Yonder 

These days I find cafes make a hard trade-off between style or substance – but not the guys at Yonder! They prove that you can have the insta-worthy interiors AND serve up dishes that knock your woolen socks off. Whether you’re feeling like a spot of brunch, a dash of dinner, or a night on the cocktails – this place exceeds any of your wining and dining needs.

9. Patagonia 

What would you get if a more sophisticated Willy Wonka set up shop on the shores of Lake Wakatipu? Patagonia – that’s what. This chocolate shop is one of QT’s foodie hotspots, and if its gorgeous Aspen exteriors don’t lull you inside, then the crowds of chocoholics chowing down their signature ice creams in the streets will! Choose from over 10 award-winning flavours to create your own bespoke ice cream, or if you’re beating the cold then grab one of their decadent hot chocolates to warm your heart and soul.

10. Beam me up bagels

I can’t say I’ve ever been jealous of Southern scarfie uni students, but that all changed when I had my first ever feed from Beam Me Up Bagels. How lucky they are to have this awesome little bagel shop right on the doorstep of their campus is almost infuriating to me. Here we’ve been under the impression Best Ugly Bagels is the top dog in NZ when these guys have been showing their Dunedin audience just how bagels should be done! For just $15 you can get yourself a super-stacked bagel you can barely fit in your mouth, or your stomach for that fact, that’ll keep your tummy quiet for the rest of the day.

11. Let them Eat Vegan 

I know lots of plant-based people always promise “you won’t even miss the meat” when they share their dishes and sometimes that’s a down-right lie, but at Let them Eat Vegan, I can assure you this claim is 100% true. Making all their meat & cheese alternatives in-house, they’ve mastered their recipes so these ingredients look, smell, feel and taste exactly like the real things. How? I Don’t know. But after chowing down one of their teriyaki “chicken” Baguettes, I found that it’s better to ask fewer questions and just enjoy the delicious dairy-free, meat-free, cafe classics they serve up!

12. Fleurs Place

This is Rick Stein’s favourite seafood restaurant in the world, and now it’s mine too. Humble, unassuming, and underrated are just 3 words to describe this seaside haven. Tucked away on the shores of Moeraki, this restaurant attracts all kinds of different holidaymakers that have just 1 thing in common; they all were blown away by their experience at Fleur’s Place. The chefs here not only nail the classic seafood dishes, but they also like to experiment with other locally sourced ingredients you may have never tried, like the famous Titi/mutton bird (which looks like duck but tastes a lot like anchovies!).

13. Riverside Market 

Can’t decide on what you want to eat? Why not try it all! Riverside Market is a newly build hub of all things food & drink right next to Christchurch’s Avon River. The best thing about this food court is that all its vendors cover cuisines from every continent, so you can fill that meal-shaped hole in your soul with your fave international dish! Feeling like a fajita? You can get it here. Craving a creamy carbonara? Again, right here. Longing for a laksa? Need I say it again – you’ll find one right here!

14. Miro

Now this place is somewhere I hold close to my heart, not just because its vibe, people, and food are all stunning, but because it exceedingly satisfied my hunger after a 4-hour journey to Christchurch. Set in one of the only heritage buildings in the South Island capital, Miro takes you back in time atmospherically, but when it comes to their flavours & techniques, they’re all 21st century. The star of the show has to be their breakfast tasting board, which features small servings of all their best-selling dishes, so you can experience all the enjoyment of brunch at Miro without any of the food envy.

15. Hello Sunday

Another place that I hold high praise for, for the sole reason of gratifying my growling stomach. Hello Sunday is like a fairytale cottage crossed with a Michelin Star restaurant; Charming, cozy, and above all, a culinary delight. We came here expecting your bog-standard brunch food but left impressed with the unique dishes they featured on the menu and inspired to try to recreate the gorgeous flavours we experienced ourselves. The team here has created something truly magical with this establishment, as when you go out to dine here it somehow feels like you’re coming home for one of your mum’s heartiest meals.

The Best BYO’s in Wellington

A BYO is the perfect place to get litty, whether it be for a birthday or just because you’re feeling extra thirsty on a Friday night. But the one question that always floats to mind when organising all the lads together is; where the heck do we go? To make this decision easier for you (so now all you need to think about is what wine has the most standards for the cheapest), I’ve compiled a list of the best BYO’s in Wellington that have always started me off well for a steamer of a night.

1. Great India

There are 2 things I love when its comes to a BYO – 1. A round table where you can chat sh*t to everyone, and 2. Flipping good food. Luckily, Great India has both of these (and a very cheap corkage) to kick your night off just right! The chefs at Great India specialise in dishes from South Gujrat and North India, with each dish bringing its own distinctive flavour and aroma (no matter how much you’ve had to drink) which simply can’t be replicated from your flats spice rack.

My top pick: Any curry, but get rice & naan for the whole table! This means they bring out a selection of different rices & naan to pick & choose from, and when I say a selection, I mean enough carbs to feed a small village.

Naan at Great India

2. Arashi

Arashi Kushiyaki Bar is, in my humble opinion, one of the best Japanese BYO’s in the CBD. If you’re looking for some lighter, less greasy meals whilst still being able to chug a bottle of wine in 15 minutes, then this is your place. From crispy skewered meats & proteins, to beautiful bowls of saucy teriyaki dons, Arashi can cater for any of your western asian food cravings – and has vegetarian/vegan options too!

My top pick: The Okonomiyaki! Savoury pancake, spring onions, Okonomiyaki sauce, and plenty of kewpie mayo – what’s not to love???

3. NewKor

“If you know, you know” is the phrase that comes to mind when I describe Newkor. Only a very select few of my friends know about this place, which after dining and (lots of) wining here, is an abomination. Situated just opposite the liquor store on Dixon Street (convenient, right?), NewKor serves up some of the sauciest Korean dishes around – and I can confirm that the dishes here are as authentic as they come. Oh, did I mention they have karaoke rooms upstairs and endless bottles of Soju? Newkor literally has everything you need for a night to (not) remember!

My top pick: Korean fried chicken. I only tried this because it was going to go to waste otherwise, but god it was like KFC on crack (without all the grease and using real chicken of course). Nobody, and I mean nobody, does fried chicken quite like Koreans do

Fried Chicken at NewKor

4. Rasa

Located at the top of Cuba Street, or what I like to call ‘the rowdy end’, Rasa is a humble abode that serves up some killer south Indian and Malaysian cuisine. If you can squeeze your group in between its small walls then you can be reassured your night here will only be a fantastic one, as the team here prove that even the smallest of restaurants can be huge on flavour and quality.

My top pick: Roti. You cannot go to Rasa without getting a healthy serving of roti to pair with your meal, and if you do, you’re a psychopath.

5. Satay Village

When you say BYO, everybody in earshot instantly imagines mountains of Malaysian food, and there’s no other place that quite executes that authentic south asian flair than Satay Village. Inside the restaurant the decor is quaint, unassuming and very simple – but this facade soon disappears once the dishes start coming out, as the fragrances from their rice or noodle dishes soon fills your nostrils. Fun fact, they were the first ever Malaysian restaurant established in Wellington – so that means they must know a thing or two about that cuisine, right?

My top pick: The Laksa. I like to pretend I’m going to order something different, but the aromas and flavours of this dish drawn me in every damn time.

6. Indian Alley

Led by an A+ husband and wife team, the folks at Indian Alley take you on an authentic food journey through India with an abundance of awe-inspiring regional starters, mains, and desserts. With 2 restaurants across Wellington (one on Wakefield Quay, one in Press Hall), they have built a reputation of providing dishes which are daringly different and prepared with ingredients of exceptional quality for an enticing level of Indian flair. Whether you’re looking for a more casual dining experience with buffet or à la carte options OR seeking more of a traditional full service Indian fine dining experience, Indian Alley has you covered – oh, and you can BYO wine to make the experience even more enjoyable (and, perhaps a little more blurry!).

My top pick: Kurkure Paneer. Nothing in this world prepared me for the unfathomable flavour and texture of deep fried paneer with a fresh minty chutney dip.

Paneer Tikka at Indian Alley

7. Tequila Joes

If you’re for something a little more Western on your night out, then look no further than Tequila Joes! Being the only Mexican BYO Restaurant in Wellington, this place serves up some seriously saucy Mexican faves such as tacos, quesadillas & nachos – plus they have vegetarian and vegan options so no matter your dietary direction, you too can don the Sombreros and Cowgirl Hats and have a fiery fiesta of a night!

My top pick: Baja Fries. I know you’re coming to this place for Mexican, but trust me these pillowy fried pockets of spicy potato will line your stomach nicely for the night ahead!

Tacos at Tequila Joes

Best Italian Restaurants Wellington

For a small city, Wellingtons dining scene boasts cuisines from every corner of the world – with each eatery bringing something delicious and unique to our tables. However, out of all the countries, Italian fare is the one that is loved the most by our little capital – and here are the best places to get your fix of fantastic continental food.

Cicio Cacio Osteria

With a goal to deliver an authentic Italian food experience to everybody who dines here, Cicio Cacio prides is somewhere to come for humble Italian meals that you’ve probably never heard of, but will become fast favourites. I would recommend some stand-out dishes, however, in true ‘Osteria’ or ‘family-restaurant’ fashion, the menu changes every month to based on produce, and to shed light on a variety of incredible dishes from all Italian regions. That being said, I can guarantee any dish containing their house-made pasta will be a sensational one.

Check out their menu here.

Bruschetta from Cicio Cacio

La Bella Italia

The 10 minute drive (or 20 minute train) ride here out to La Bella Italia is a minuscule price to pay for the second-to-none wining and dining experience you get in return. Pizza, pasta, gelato, anti-pasti, sauces, wines, oils; you name it, if its Italian in origin, this place either serves it or stocks it. Not only do they provide Wellingtonians with an authentic dishes and products – they also teach you how to make them too in one of their immersive cookings classes (which also make for fabulous birthday or Christmas gifts!).

Check out their menu here.

1154 Pastaria

Wanting for some quick, cheap & tasty pasta for a midweek meal? Look no further. 1154 has just one goal; to source the best ingredients possible to curate a menu made from all our favourite carb-centred pasta classics – and I think they do a pretty bang up job. My top pick has to be their Fettuccini Carbonara; a stunningly simple dish who’s punchy flavours never fail to astonish me.

Check out their menu here.

Pasta from 1154

Pizza Pomodoro

At Pizza Pomodoro, their pride comes from delivering to the “original” Neapolitan pizza experience to us dough-hungry Wellingtonians. However, even though they’ve mastered the art of the Margherita, it doesn’t mean they don’t like to get creative. Toppings such as sausage, aubergine, smoked chicken and even roasted potatoes feature on some of their more flamboyant pizzas – and they even let you build your own pizza too (if you think you know flavour combos better than they do).

Check out their menu here.


One of Cuba Street’s many famous food digs, who also happen to serve up some incredible food and drink inspired by the informal barcari (restaurants and bars) of Venice. Forget pizza and pasta dishes (although their Pizzette is bangin’), the real gold is hidden in amongst their small bite & vegetable menu items. Oozy arancini balls, crunchy cheesy broccolini, and thick crispy polenta chips – need I say more?

Check out their menu here.

Pizzette from Ombra


Scopa is another one of Cuba Streets Italian hotspots – but rather than serving up plates of pasta, they put all their focus into crafting the perfect pizzas. Staying true to their Italian roots, their pizza base recipe and method is exactly how the old Nonna’s all make theirs, but when it comes to the toppings, this is where they like to push the boundaries of tradition. Of course they serve up the perfect Margherita (which are $10 on a Tuesday), but their other pizzas feature ingredients like clams, spicy sausage, zucchini, potatoes, and even mint. Oh, and if you’re a sucker for sweet things, you’re going to love their molten hot chocolates (they’re the best in the city).

Check out their menu here.

Hot Chocolate from Scopa

4 Ways to Support NZ Food and Hospitality Post-Lockdown

After a solid 5-plus weeks in lockdown, we’re finally lifting the blanket and making the first moves back to normality. For the everyday kiwi, phase 4 meant semi-acceptable day-drinking, embarrassing TikTok’s, and buckets of banana bread. However, for small business owners, these 5 weeks were filled with uncertainty, sleepless nights, and fear. COVID-19 has pushed our country to its limits and tested our capabilities in ways we were unprepared for, however not all effects of this virus have been negative. This virus has proved how strong we stand together as a nation, and how willing we are to act selflessly in support and protection of those who might suffer more from the effects of the virus.

With this in mind, it’s now, more than ever, that we need to keep this communal camaraderie going. Local businesses have been doing their best to stay afloat during the peak of this pandemic, but it’s the aftermath which is going to be their biggest battle. Luckily, if we spend that extra dollar to shop locally, we can help breathe some life back into these affected businesses.

So why am I talking about this on my food blog? Our capital is built on hospitality. In fact, we’ve got the most cafes per capita in the world. That’s a lot of businesses, with a lot of employees, who are all going to feel the impacts of this pandemic. Below is a little list of things you can do to support these businesses who are desperately trying to get back on their feet – and remember – no task is too small, every little helps:

  1. If you can’t be arsed cooking spaghetti for the 11th time in a row or waiting in line for the supermarket, get dinner delivered or by takeout! About every café and restaurant (and potentially, bar) in Wellington are jumping on the take-out bandwagon, which for us means doing our bit and ordering our favourite food and eating it at home in our dressing gowns (such a tax right?). So, jump onto your social media to see if your favourite food places are offering delivery or takeout, and get to ordering!
  2. Buy local ingredients and products. When I say local, I don’t mean just Wellington (although we do have some pretty premium products made in our capital) – I mean the whole of New Zealand. Sure, sometimes buying international is cheaper and seemingly more economical – but spending that extra dollar on some peanut butter is the difference between a local business staying afloat or a multinational corporation just getting richer.
  3. When we can finally get our caffeine fix, source it from Wellington’s smaller independent cafes. I know the pull of a Venti double shot caramel macchiato is strong, but believe me, a flat white made from locally roasted beans is going to taste just as good – if not better. Our capital hails some of the best cafes in New Zealand, so it would be almost rude not to make the most of our brilliant baristas’ skills.x
  4. Quarantine means missing out on your favourite fast food snacks, which I bet you now realise you’ve under-appreciated this whole time. But why not try make your own supreme pizza or original recipe? The great thing about people being deprived of their favourite fried food, is that they’ll go out there and try re-creating it. 5 weeks into quarantine, there’s a recipe for about every fast-food favourite which look and taste damn-near close to the real thing. Not only can you feel the achievement of making your favourite food from scratch, you can also get the family involved for some bonding and learning time in the kitchen – with delicious food being the reward!

So, there you have it, 4 easy ways you can do your part in supporting our awesome local hospo businesses, whilst getting some fantastic food and drink out of it at the same time!

Kia Kaha, stay strong and stand united, New Zealand.