A budget food and craft beer guide to Wellington, New Zealand

Today’s post is by Pippa from The Traveling Anthropologist. Pippa shares her best tips for eating and drinking out from her current hometown of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Over to Pippa!

Wellington may be known as the ‘world’s coolest little capital’ but unfortunately it’s not the world’s cheapest capital. Like all of New Zealand it can be damaging to your wallet if you don’t know where to look. To help you out here are some suggestions for the best and cheapest places to eat and drink so you can enjoy the best of this gorgeous city without blowing your budget.

Photo by christophercrouzet on flickr

Photo by christophercrouzet on flickr


Old Bailey pub (Lambton Quay)

The cheapest breakfast in Wellington. Here you can get two eggs cooked to your liking on a piece of toast for $3, with the option to add extras at a couple of dollars each.

Sweet Mother’s Kitchen (Courtenay Place)

One of the most popular cafes in Wellington offers beignets for $5 and breakfast po boy’s for $9.

Fuwa cafe (The Terrace)

Perfect for those who don’t have much of an appetite in the morning, they offer a delicious cheese scone and coffee for just $6.

If you’re in town on a Sunday morning it’s worth taking a stroll along the waterfront to visit the weekly farmers markets located just next to Te Papa. Apart from an array of fresh fruit you can also pick up a chicken roti ($5), a Fritz weiner ($7) or a plate of dumplings ($8).

wellington food and beer guide

Lunch and Dinner

Ekim burgers (Cuba Street)

Arguably the best burgers in Wellington and definitely in the top 5 best burgers in all of New Zealand. These are huge and juicy and just yum! ($12).   Also recommend the chips with homemade relish ($7).

Fisherman’s plate (Cuba Street)

The fish and chips here are good if that’s what you’re in the mood for, but the real star of this little place is the delicious Vietnamese Pho ($12).

Pachanga (Mexican) (Courtenay Place)

While more of a tex-mex menu than authentic Mexican cuisine, it is tasty and a great choice for vegetarians. The pork burrito is extremely popular ($10).

BYO (bring your own wine) restaurants are common in Wellington (and other cities in New Zealand). New Zealand wine is cheap when bought in supermarkets or liquor stores. You can pick up a nice bottle for under $15 (under $10 if you want to) and you’ll get charged a few dollars for ‘corkage’ per bottle meaning it works out a lot cheaper than buying it by the glass or bottle in a restaurant.

Source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/FCC5EDD3BB

Source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/FCC5EDD3BB

Some of the best BYO restaurants are:

Arashi (Japanese) (Courtenay Place)

This is a popular hotspot on weekend for students for good reason. Here you can get a plate of sushi for $12 or a large chicken teriyaki on rice for $15.

RASA (Malaysian & South Indian) (Cuba Street)

This place has a funky interior, friendly staff and deliciously authentic meals. The Masala Dosai ($13.00) is a clear standout, followed by the curry puffs (3 for $8.00).

Phu Thai Esarn (Thai) (Cambridge Terrace)

If you’re in the mood for a quieter meal this place is a couple of blocks away from the hustle and bustle of Cuba Street. They have a great menu including some northern Thai dishes like sticky rice and chicken laarb. They also have a $10 lunch special.

There are also some great deals on different nights of the week like two for one burgers, all you can eat tacos ($20) and 50 cent chicken wings. You can check out a full list of deals here.

wellington food and beer guide


It’s often said that there are more cafes per capita in Wellington than there are in New York. I’m not sure if that’s true but there sure are a lot of cafes in Wellington. Fortunately most of them serve good if not great coffee so we’re spoiled for choice.   If I have to choose here are my favourites;

Havana Coffee Works (Tory Street)

Not to be confused with the Havana Bar (the former site of this cafe), this place is tucked away in a quiet side street which allows you to enjoy a cup of their on site roasted coffee in a serene environment.

Memphis Belle (Dixon Street)

This is a cosy, retro space where you can sit in an armchair in the sunshine and sip on a strong brew of Flight Coffee beans. The service is always friendly and there’s never any pressure to leave after you’ve finished your drink.

Prefab (Jessie Street)

This is a huge space that is always nearly full (always a good sign!). Not only is their on site roasted coffee delicious, but if you want to spend some there you can have free filter coffee (and wifi) all day.

wellington food and beer guide

Craft beer

Alcohol in general isn’t cheap in New Zealand, and craft beer is no exception. The average price is $10 for a pint. However, the percentage of alcohol is typically higher (anywhere from 5% to 11%) so you’re getting more bang for your buck. Also, as the taste is much more distinctive than a typical beer you don’t drink it as fast, it’s more of a savour the taste experience.

As a general rule of thumb the higher percentage beers come with a higher price tag so it’s up to you what you want to splash out on. Also worth mentioning is that at any of the bars listed below you’re welcome (even encouraged) to sample the beer before buying it to make sure you enjoy your choice.

Hop Garden (Cnr Kent Terrace & Pirie Stret)

Located a couple of blocks away from the centre of downtown this covered garden bar is worth the walk. The bar area is located in a vine covered conservatory area which fills with sunlight on a nice day. They offer a good selection of New Zealand and International beers and have free music from local bands on Saturday nights.

Little Beer Quarters (Edward Street)

This cute little place has a kind of hipster meets old fashioned English pub vibe going and it works really well. They have a huge selection of beers to choose from and really helpful staff. They have outdoor seating with braziers in winter time too. It can be a little hard to find but anyone you ask will be able to show you the way.

Hashigo Zake (Taranaki Street)

A very cool underground space just off Courtney Place. It’s easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled for the red and black sign. It’s well worth having a conversation with the friendly beer staff here – they’ll hook you up with the perfect brew to suit your needs (they change their tap beers each week so they’re very knowledgable). They also have a range of gourmet pies for those late night hunger pains. Free jazz on Saturday nights.

. . .

Pippa is a writer and anthropologist by trade and a traveler at heart.  She writes stories at http://www.thetravelinganthropologist.com.  She lives in Wellington, NZ with her fiancé and part time cat. When she’s not in front of a computer you’ll find her curled up reading a book, catching up on a TV series (she still hasn’t finished Lost!) or in the kitchen cooking.

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