The Ultimate List Of The Best Restaurants in New Zealand | Enterprise Rent-A-Car
New Zealand is a foodie's dream. With some of the freshest seafood, award-winning wineries and Māori food influences, it is an adventure destination for your taste buds. Famous for its emphasis on using the land, they produce succulent New Zealand lamb and local seafood like Bluff oysters, crayfish and green lipped mussels and you can savour incredible flavour at every single meal.
Māori cuisine heavily influences New Zealand restaurants and the traditional hāngī (underground slow cooked meat and vegetables) is served at many Māori cultural experiences. Restaurants incorporate food traditionally eaten by Māori people including rēwena bread, kumara sweet potato and Mānuka honey.
With over 2,000 wineries in New Zealand expertly making unique wines to supply restaurants, you know the food is going to be elevated with a delicious pairing. Some wineries even opened their own restaurant to delight both our food and wine palate together, yes please!
So, whether you are completing the ultimate South Island road trip or cruising a perfect Auckland to Wellington itinerary on the North Island, we have got your taste buds covered! From the best fine dining restaurants to seafood delights and unique dining experiences, your adventure in New Zealand is not limited to thrilling outdoor ventures. We hope you find some tasty inspiration with our ultimate list of best restaurants in New Zealand!
Ultimate list of best restaurants in New Zealand
Best Fine Dining restaurants in New Zealand:
1. Elephant Hill Wine Estate & Restaurant | Hawkes Bay | North Island
Sampling New Zealand wines along with delicious Hawkes Bay country dishes like lamb, duck or venison sounds like the perfect way to spend an afternoon or night. With an incredible coastline view, you can sit at a table on the deck, overlook the sustainable vineyard and make your way through the wine list.
2. Hiakai | Wellington | North Island
If you want to experience Māori food in New Zealand then the exclusive and spectacular Hiakai restaurant in Wellington should be high on your list. Innovative chef, Monique Fiso, brings a constantly evolving menu of Māori bush food with a modern twist and is one of the only places you can try tītī (muttonbird), mamaku or red matipo. Hiakai means hungry in te reo Māori language but we are sure you will not leave this place hungry or disappointed!
3. Rata | Queenstown | South Island
Prepared by Michelin star chefs, you could dine on luxury organic and sustainable ingredients made in both traditional and modern ways. Rata showcases an extensive local wine list and it is no surprise that it is often named as the best restaurant in New Zealand.
4. The Grove | Auckland | North Island
A Kiwi restaurant with over 20 years experience, you can sample the 5, 6 or 7 course degustation menu that changes frequently. Serving only the freshest seasonal New Zealand ingredients, The Grove is award winning and one of the best fine dining restaurants you can experience.
5. Paris Butter | Herne Bay | North Island
Eat in style in one of New Zealand's only French inspired elegant fine dining restaurants. With a degustation menu and award winning wine pairing, you can fill up on mouth-watering dishes and excellent service.
6. Pacifica Kaimoana Restaurant | Hawkes Bay | North Island
" Ingredients are gifts to be used with respect." - Chef Jeremy Rameka
Don't be fooled by this small blue house exterior, the ingenious menu and flavours are anything but small. Experience an ever-changing menu of locally sourced meat, seafood and vegetables on a 5 course menu in a truly intimate setting that feels like home.
7. Amisfield Winery | Queenstown | South Island
At Amisfield winery you can sip your way through the wine list and order the "trust the chef" menu. Be surprised by the incredible flavours, texture and flair of their dishes including Wild Bluff Oysters and antipasti which pair with the wine perfectly.
8. Inati | Christchurch | South Island
Experience theatre in the kitchen of one of the best fine dining restaurants in New Zealand. Serving up sharing plates, Inati ("To Share") brings excitement and community to the fine dining palate.
9. Logan Brown | Wellington | North Island
Operating since 1996, Logan Brown celebrates Kiwi land, ingredients and culture in their nourishing seasonal menu. The Dining room here is in one of New Zealand's old school best fine dining restaurants and you can really see how proud they are of this country.
10. Sidart | Auckland | North Island
Winning New Zealand best fine dining restaurants awards year on year since it opened, you would not be disappointed by Sidart. Every dish is made with so much passion and is a masterpiece on the plate.
Best Seafood Restaurants in New Zealand:
1. Ortega Fish Shack | Wellington | North Island
The most elegant fish shack you will probably dine in, Ortega brings a love of the ocean and land to the table. Try the famous marinated green-lipped mussels or New Zealand beef paired with incredible local wine.
2. Fowlers Wild Bluff Oysters | Bluff | South Island
Family operated and passionately run, you can taste the New Zealand famous wild bluff oysters in a no nonsense fish shack setting. If oysters are not your thing then don't fear, sample their delicious fish and chips and enjoy a sunset over the water.
3. Sails | Auckland | North Island
Often hailed as one of the best fine dining restaurants, Sails deserves a mention on the seafood list. Sit with a view of the harbour and yachts as you dine on exquisite crayfish, sea scallops and snapper.
4. The Smokehouse | Nelson | South Island
"Hand Smoked for maximum flavour" - sounds like a dream! Pick up smoked fish, chowder, and pies in this stunning casual fish shack. Sit out and watch the water or head next door to the craft brewery.
5. The Shucker Brothers | Auckland | North Island
A seaside eatery serving up the freshest New Zealand oysters in tasty and creative ways. You can try an oyster fritter or fried oyster with bacon and bourbon, yum!
Whilst here, make sure you continue your foodie adventure with the best scenic drives from Auckland!
6. The Craypot | Jackson Bay | South Island
An epic little seaside shack, The Craypot serves homely dishes from seafood baskets to crayfish chowder. Open only for lunch, diners can enjoy a view over Jackson Bay as they dig into the nourishing menu. This is a must visit!
7. Nin's Bin | Half Moon Bay | South Island
The cutest little food truck you will ever see, Nin's Bin is a family owned institution which has been catching local crayfish since 1977. You must visit to try their delicious cooked crayfish and lobsters with a stunning view of Half Moon Bay. There’s no doubting whether this should be on the list of best restaurants in New Zealand.
Nin's Bin is along the stunning coastal drive from Christchurch so why not base yourself there, pick up an Enterprise car rental and have yourself a delicious day trip.
8. Shed 5 | Wellington | North Island
Situated on the historic Lambton harbour, Shed 5 serves up mouth-watering oysters, fish crudo and prawn risotto among meat and vegetarian options.
9. Mar & Tierra | Auckland | North Island
An Auckland fish market favourite, Mar & Tierra offers a latin twist to New Zealand seafood. Every dish on the menu is prepared fresh daily with care and passion to bring thrilling flavours to exquisite fish and fresh ingredients.
10. Cook 'n' with Gas | Christchurch | South Island
An award-winning restaurant which is often raved as one of the best restaurants in New Zealand, Cook 'n' with gas is a unique seafood restaurant and bistro you have to try. Serving up both homely fish and meat dishes, there is something for everything in this heritage villa restaurant.
Unique Restaurants in New Zealand
1. Gothenburg Restaurant | Hamilton | North Island
A taste delight of share plates, Gothenburg is situated on the side of Waikato river bushland so you can enjoy succulent dishes in a peaceful and green setting. All paired with local wine and craft beer, it is the place to go to sample New Zealand produce.
2. Jano Bistro | Wellington | North Island
Running from a quaint historical cottage, Jano bistro is like stepping into a Kiwi home for dinner. With a French chef, the bistro brings local New Zealand cuisine alive with innovative fusion twists.
3. Tatsumi | Queenstown | South Island
A cosy and intimate Japanese restaurant in the heart of Queenstown, Tatsumi is the place to go for mouth-watering sushi, teriyaki and sashimi. Pair it all with unique cocktails, sake or Japanese whisky and this could be one of your best restaurants in New Zealand.
4. Bistronomy | Napier | North Island
"At Bistronomy, we’re firm believers in making everyday eating a little bit extraordinary."
Definitely one of the best restaurants in New Zealand, bringing Kiwi ingredients with world ideas and techniques and European influences. All of this paired with one of their hundreds of wines from their cellar makes for an excellent night.
5. Riverstone Kitchen | Otago | South Island
Often hailed as one of the best restaurants in regional New Zealand, Riverstone Kitchen serves up local and homegrown produce in a relaxed and ambient setting. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can experience Kiwi sustainable ingredients at every meal of the day.
6. Āpiti Tavern & Eatery | Āpiti | North Island
Established in 1896, this historic tavern was taken over in 2020 by two meat-smoking masters and now serves up some of the best BBQs you can get in New Zealand. With two huge smoking barrel BBQs, you could grab yourself a platter of tender, succulent meat and vegetables and sit in the beer garden all afternoon.
Although Āpiti is a tiny heritage town 2.5 hours drive from Wellington, we believe country towns in New Zealand are always worth the trip. Check out our Wellington car hire branch to see how we can help you on your way to Kiwi adventures.
7. Twenty Seven Steps | Christchurch | South Island
Serving up hearty and flavoursome meals, Twenty Seven Steps is the place to go for delicious nourishment. Taste local Kiwi ingredients at one of the most homely and best restaurants in New Zealand.
8. The Stoaker Room | Cromwell | South Island
Known as barrel cuisine, The Stoaker Room steam, bake, grill and smoke local foods in their French Oak Pinot Noir Barrel Cookers, sounds delicious! Where else can you go in the world to experience cuisine and technique like this? Add to your list of best restaurants in New Zealand when planning your itinerary.
9. The Hunting Lodge | Waimaku | North Island
Experience seasonal changing pasture-to-plate dishes at the stunning Hunting Lodge. With an Italian-influenced menu, you can have mouth-watering dishes like venison ragu and confit duck leg.
10. Poderi Crisci | Waiheke | North Island
Step into a Northern Italy dream at this fourth-generation family-owned winery and restaurant. Often referred to as one of the best restaurants in New Zealand and boasted as bringing wine and culture to Waiheke Island, you know you are in safe hands at Poderi Crisci. Dine on mouth-watering Italian dishes paired with deep and complex wines.
1. Does New Zealand have Michelin stars?
New Zealand does not currently have a Michelin Star system, although they do have a few restaurants set up by World Renowned Michelin Star chefs. At present, there is a Cuisine Magazine Hat award that determines the best restaurants in New Zealand. However, the Michelin Star accolade is renowned and recognised globally and would help travellers identify the best fine dining restaurants in New Zealand.
2. What food is New Zealand famous for?
New Zealand is often recognised across the World for succulent Lamb, fresh crayfish, oysters and green-lipped mussels. They are renowned for celebrating and utilising their land and ocean; some of the best restaurants in New Zealand use only locally grown and sustainable produce. With over 2,000 wineries and some Global award-winning wines, New Zealand's food scene is elevated with complex ranges of wine.
From tiny coastal towns on the South Island to major Cities on the North Island, you can plan an epic foodie road trip with Enterprise New Zealand car hire locations. We even offer one-way rentals so you can take the stress out of returning your car hire and concentrate more on delicious adventures.
3. What is Maori food?
Traditionally, Māori people were hunter and gatherers and prepared fresh kai Whenua (food from the land) and kai Moana (food from the sea), influencing modern New Zealand today. Their most famous dish is a hāngī, 24-hour slow-cooked meat and vegetables made in an underground oven. Other Māori foods include rēwena bread (sourdough made from Māori potatoes), kumara sweet potato and Mānuka honey.