Vegetarian and vegan dining is both easy and delicious throughout New Zealand. There’s a plethora of places offering wholly plant-based menus and plenty more who let seasonal produce be the hero. Here’s our pick of the bountiful bunch to whet your appetite.
An Ethical Eatery
Cafe culture is king in New Zealand – our standards for coffee are set high, with uncomplicated, fresh food following suit. Coffee roaster Kokako not only serves the best ethically traded, organic coffee in town, they also offer a completely vegetarian menu (much of it also vegan), showcasing the best of seasonal, organic produce in unfussy, delicious dishes. Try their blends and single origins in espresso or batch brews. Plus there’s kombucha and popular nitro cold brew coffee on tap.
Kokako occupies a beautifully renovated former post office in Auckland’s fringe suburb of Grey Lynn, a five-minute car or 10-minute bus ride from the CBD.
537 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland; +64 9 376 6086; weekdays, 7am to 3.30pm, weekends, 7.30am to 4pm.
Hunters and Gatherers
Gatherings is a “living wine bar and restaurant” by talented young chef Alex Davies, whose wholly plant-based cuisine is inspired by the bounty of the Canterbury region’s distinct seasons. Walking the talk, Davies spent a year working on an organic vegetable farm in north Canterbury in order to learn more about sustainable food systems. The five-course dinner set menu costs a very reasonable $60, or you can opt for snacks at the bar. There’s an “organic and living wine list” to accompany the cuisine and the space often hosts live performances organised by Davies’ partner, singer-songwriter Bryony Matthews.
Gatherings is located close to the city centre in Christchurch.
Unit 5/2 Papanui Rd, Christchurch; Wednesday-Saturday, lunch from noon to 2pm, happy hour 4pm-6pm and dinner 6pm-11pm.
Left of Centre
It’s a recipe for success: a seasoned fine-dining chef, a Spanish Mission-style stucco building at the end of a palm-lined driveway, and the stunning countryside of New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay “food bowl”. Then there’s the food. At Ten Twenty Four, his kitchen counter cluttered by bottles of locally grown garnishes – edible flowers, fronds, shoots and leaves – chef Kent Baddeley transforms left-field ideas into remarkably delicious dishes. Ten Twenty Four isn’t an exclusively vegetarian kitchen, but seasonal, hyper-local produce is the star and those with dietary requirements are well catered for.
Ten Twenty Four is a short drive out of Hastings in Hawkes Bay. This is wine country, but also where most of New Zealand’s stone fruit is grown. The road to Ten Twenty Four is dotted with orchard stalls, some with honesty boxes.
1024 Pakowhai Rd, Hastings; +64 6 870 6440; Tuesday to Sunday for lunch; Friday and Saturday for dinner.
Vibrant Mexican flavours abound at Boquita. This bijou central Wellington spot features a concise organic plant-based menu of tacos, salads and sides made with fresh local produce and top-quality ingredients that the proprietors import directly from Mexico (browse the selection for sale). You can park up at the bench to dine, but if it’s a fine day, grab your goodies and have a picnic at nearby Oriental Bay or up on Mount Victoria, also close, gazing down on the city.
In central Wellington, pretty much everywhere is within walking distance.
23 Kent Tce, Wellington; Tuesday to Saturday, lunch 11.30am-2.30pm, dinner 5pm-9pm. No bookings.
A Bird in the Hand
The raw cuisine Little Bird Unbakery in Auckland’s Ponsonby certainly won’t leave you feeling cold. In this warm, bright space, you’ll feel the love and attention of the kitchen in everything on the menu, which is predominantly raw, with a few cooked items. Fresh coconuts are cracked open for smoothies, kimchi and kefir are made onsite, as are sprouted breads, nut milks and cheeses. As well as great coffee and an arm-long list of juices and smoothies, there’s a wide range of teas.
Little Bird Unbakery in Ponsonby is just five minutes’ drive from the CBD or a 10-minute ride on the Link bus.
Another Little Bird is at Britomart by the train station.
Cnr Summer St and Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland; +64 9 555 3278; open daily 7am-4pm.