How Best to Tour New Zealand, One Café at a Time

01 Dec 2017


The land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa, God’s Zone… call it what you like, New Zealand is overflowing with quality cafés. The coveted title of New Zealand’s best café town is as fiercely argued over as the origins of the flat white. We figure it’s a waste of our precious coffee-drinking time trying to decide on just one town to mention, so let’s tour the nation, inspired by the 2016 New Zealand Café of The Year Awards (NZCOTY) and the word on the street.

A cup of Joe in the biggest smoke

According to tripadvisor users, Best Ugly Bagels is where it’s at for bagels in Central Auckland. If it’s a good cup of Joe you’re after, try the ultra-hip Remedy Coffee for lots of millennial company and a healthy serving of laptops.

If you’re keen for a more rural caffeine fix, Red Shed Palazzo in Drury earned joint share of the Best Rural title in the 2016 NZCOTY awards. It could be the perfect way to break up your drive from the big smoke to Port Waikato, these summer holidays.



Over 400 coffees in Tauranga

While that may be a few too many to consume in one sitting for most of us, it’s how many they make on a good day at Elizabeth Café and Larder in Tauranga. If the award-winning CBD locale and the 400 cups get too much for you, flee the scene and take a relaxing harbour dip at Omokoroa.

The People’s Choice, lakeside

The adventure capital of New Zealand’s North Island, Taupo is home to bungy jumping, thermal pools, Lake Taupo and Mt Ruapehu ski areas. It’s also home to NZCOTY People’s Choice Award winner for the upper North Island – Piccolo Café & Restaurant. Open daily from 7am to 4pm, a visit to Piccolo is the perfect way to start the day during a stay at Taupo.

A capital addiction

Coffee is what fuels the policy makers and accents the cosmopolitan vibe in Wellington. A walk down Cuba Street serves up a myriad of café options. Fidel’s is a tip of the hat to the revolutionary from Cuba Street’s namesake. They’ve been ‘serving the people’ since 1996 and have become somewhat of a bohemian institution in New Zealand’s capital city.

Over the hill from Wellington’s Kiwi Holiday Park is the quaint little town of Carterton, home to NZCOTY Best Rural award winner, The Clareville Bakery & Café. There you will find artisan bakers kneading all-natural ingredients into stone-baked loafs of doughy perfection. Pick one up before venturing forth to explore the stunning Wairarapa wineries.



The grand prize of the south

While we couldn’t possibly bring ourselves to pick just one café town or café to top them all, COTY have done it for us. In 2016 prestigious honour of NZ Café of The Year went to Queenstown’s Bespoke Kitchen, where just looking at the exquisite food is almost as pleasurable as eating it. Get in quick as the queues can be lengthy.

Just over the Crown Range in Wanaka is The Bakery, better known as Doughbin Bakery. Winner of Best Vegetarian Pie in NZ in 2016, Doughbin is a massive hit with night owls due to its late-night service window, through which, life-changing pies of all descriptions are handed into the wee small hours. Absolute piefection!

If that lot has made you hungry for a café tour of your own, check out Kiwi Holiday Parks and Accommodation to help plot out your route.


Kiwi drinking Ice Coffee by Kathrin & Stefan Marks under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Fidel Café by timheuer under CC BY-NC 2.0

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