Summer travel ideas: New Zealand’s best outdoor restaurants

To travel

Trinity Wharf, Tauranga, is one of the many great outdoor restaurants in New Zealand. Photo / Alex Wallace

Take advantage of the long days, warm evenings, and carefree summer vibes by visiting these top outdoor restaurants in the country.


The Whangārei Town Basin is a picturesque scene above the marina, right in the city center. Watch the boats come and go as you dine on the water at The Quay Kitchen.


Get to the lakeside in Hamilton and enjoy the shores of Lake Rotoroa in the Lake Hamilton Estate. Enjoy brunch or lunch at the Verandah, or enjoy an ice cream at the kiosk by the lake. It’s a great place for families as the waterfront setting includes children’s play areas and picnic areas.

Bay of Abondance

For the ultimate urban waterfront retreat, spend an overnight stay at Trinity Wharf, a stunning luxury overwater hotel with panoramic water views. Or just drop by for a drink and a bite to eat at Trinity Wharf Restaurant.


There is plenty to do on the New Plymouth waterfront. Admire the bustling marina at Taranaki Harbor while having a bite to eat at Bach on Breakwater. The cafe, which is open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, has a great New Zealand flavor in its style, using recycled materials and even pieces of old quay lumber. You will feel like relaxing in a traditional Kiwi bach. The cafe is located at the end of the coastal promenade, overlooking a child-friendly beach.


Forget the weather and watch the waves crash at Lyall Bay’s iconic Maranui Cafe. The funky cafe sits above the Surf Life Saving Club and has a lot of personality with an eclectic mix of furniture and light decor inside, and large windows offering ocean views.


Stroll along Wakefield Quay, which is also a top destination for waterfront dining in Nelson. Top picks include The Styx and The Boat Shed. Don’t miss the many sculptures and murals along the way.


While the ocean is a bit crisp to the south, Dunedin’s St Clair has a Bondi beach vibe, with bars along the plaza and the outdoor hot saltwater pool, saltwater and chlorine pool heated to 28 ° C. Go for one of the great restaurants such as The Long Dog, Spirit House, tītī, Starfish and Salt. The charming accommodation in the area all adds to the fun vibe of Dunedin Beach.

Further inland, in central Otago, have a drink at Queenstown’s Boat Bar – Perky’s Floating Bar on the Million Dollar Cruise Pier. Discover the spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu and the magnificent Alpine mountains surrounding the region, while tasting local wine and beer. The boat has a heated deck and is permanently moored at the jetty. You can also bring your own food to take on board, and it’s dog friendly too.

Southern countries

Right outside of Invercargill in Riverton Settlement, you can imagine life in a traditional South Island manger at Crib Cafe. It’s a quirky place in central Riverton, with all kinds of treasures one would expect to find in a southern nursery. Soak up the laid-back beach vibe with great coffee and homemade pastries.

This is an edited version of a story that first appeared in NZ Herald Travel on January 25, 2021. For more great vacation ideas, visit

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