Taking a weekend city break in one of New Zealand's exciting urban centres? Our local experts have your eating and drinking needs covered . . .
24 hours in Wellington with Beth Brash, Programme Manager at Visa Wellington On a Plate
Breakfast: Everyone can do scrambled eggs at home, but none to the perfection of Floriditas which makes it worth the wait for a table on a weekend. She's 14 years old and stewardship of this gem has recently changed from hospo royalty Julie and James to Hayden and Dom (ex Etta, Melbourne) who are staying true to Flo's roots of perfect simplicity, but taking it to fresh and exciting new places.
Coffee: Swimsuit. It's a bold move to open another coffee shop in Wellington, but why not when you can do it better than the rest. Fantastic coffee, best decaf I've ever had, but the heart is all in the detail. They remember your name, choose from not one but three cheese scones, and Taite, the owner, is just a wonderful guy. For me this coffee house sums up true hospitality.
Long lunch: Great India. Sunday long lunches are my favourite, so if you're looking for a religious experience this one delivers. Take that pinot you've been saving up - curry is the perfect match - and take your time, the food is bountiful and flavourful. Rakesh and Mitesh grew up in this restaurant, so great hospitality is in their blood and the service is some of the best in town. Rakesh should record a podcast talking through the menu, it's basically a guided meditation.
Dinner: Mason is the new kid on the block. One of my first meals out of lockdown and it felt like a holiday, possibly because it was the furthest I'd travelled for a while to eat (across town) but it also channels the vibes of neighbourhood restaurants common in Sydney, London or New York. Dig in with your hands Middle Eastern-ish eats; lots of pita bread, falafels, hummus, pickles, all paired with a well-curated natural wine list.
Drinks: Puffin. I'd walk miles for this place if I didn't have the convenience of living right above it. Hidden down the back of (what is currently) a construction site, it's a diamond in the literal rubble. Plush velvet emerald booths are the perfect place to unwind and knowledgeable staff will help work your way through the wine list with ease and not a sniff of pretentiousness. You'll come away with a new favourite style and it will be the most fun learning experience you've had in a long time.
24 Hours in Dunedin with Steph Sykes, sales and marketing manager at OCHO chocolate
Breakfast: The Nordic influenced ADJO is near the Botanic Gardens – it's small but perfectly formed. Serving steaming bowls of porridge topped with homemade caramel, delicious Danish pastries and locally roasted KUKU coffee — it's a great spot to start your day.
Coffee: Vanguard on Princes St really know coffee, whether it's a flat white on the run or one of their single-origin brews sourced directly from farmers, it is the perfect spot to stop and recharge — it's also right in the middle of the street-art trail too.
Long Lunch: It's hard to go passed The Esplanade in St Clair for a long lunch. It's a bustling little spot to relax and watch the day go by, with views of the Pacific Ocean and wood-fired pizza and homemade pasta.
Dinner: Moiety, located in the historic warehouse precinct is a special spot for dinner. The delicious menu focuses on locally sourced produce and each visit leaves us wanting more. Another favourite just around the corner is Good Good – sometimes you just can't go past a burger and a beer.
Drinks: Dunedin does drinks pretty well, picking just one spot is tricky. So, if you're a fan of craft beer, head out to Arc brewery at Blueskin Bay. For wine you can't go past, our URBN VINO - they make wine right here in the city and if cocktails are your thing pop, into the new bar Mr Fox, in the Octagon.
24 hours in Rotorua with David Blackmore, general manager of Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Breakfast: Ōkere Falls Store does a super eggs bene – it's worth throwing in the bacon or salmon for an extra tasty start to the day - and their range of smoothies is famous (plum being my current favourite). It's well worth the short drive and a wander around to see the falls themselves.
Coffee: Revolver Espresso is a locals' favourite as the only independent coffee roaster in Rotorua.
Long lunch: Waimangu Local Store and Cafe is just south of Rotorua. Waimangu is the home of the Pink and White Terraces with hiking and boat cruises in the world's youngest geothermal valley to work up an appetite. They offer a newly relaunched store and cafe with freshly made pizzas (share a half-metre pizza as a group) and gourmet sandwiches, as well as tasty snacks and locally sourced foodie items to take away and enjoy later.
Dinner: You can't go wrong with Terrace Kitchen (get the slow-roasted lamb shoulder if it's available, although the entire menu is really good) or Atticus Finch for delicious sharing plates. Both are in or around the central Eat Streat dining precinct.
Drinks: Brew Bar is a good choice as it features local Croucher beer – I like the tasting-tray option as a nice way to sample a wider range. I'd also recommend Volcanic Hills Tasting Room (locally made wine with a stunning view over Lake Rotorua). For cocktails, The Regent and upstairs at Terrace Kitchen are winners, and a gin and tonic at Ponsonby Road Lounge Bar is always worthwhile.
24 Hours in New Plymouth with Terry Parkes, owner of The Nice Hotel
Breakfast: Sit down with the locals at the very funky, 1950s themed Federal Store. Enjoy their signature coffee blend, The Fed, alongside a breakfast of smashed avocado, huevos rancheros or Federal benedict to name a few.
Coffee: The newly opened Bleached Coffee & Company is located only a minute's walk from the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre and is ideal for grabbing your morning coffee.
Long Lunch: A meal is made all the better with sea views and I recommend Arborio Restaurant, Cafe & Terrace Bar. It is in the prime spot, located at New Plymouth's museum, Puke Ariki, opposite the Coastal Walkway and Len Lye Wind Wand. Enjoy delicious meals from pizza and pasta to salads and burgers and enjoy the warm service and welcoming decor.
Dinner: Let me welcome you to the luxury of fine dining at Nice Hotel & Lobby bar. Nice Hotel is a 4-star hotel and the meals are reflective of this rating with the dining area elegant and intimate and an outdoor fire adding to the ambience.
Drinks: My favourite place to end the day is at The Hour Glass in the heart of the CBD. They specialise in craft beer, quality wine, classic cocktails and delicious tapas and, with its cosy atmosphere and outdoor dining option, is an ideal place to catch up and unwind.
24 hours in Taupo with Michelle Caldwell, GM sales and marketing for mtruapehu.com
Breakfast: L'arte is an art lover's oasis tucked away in Acacia Bay. The mosaic garden takes you to a magical place and will definitely feature in your Instagram stories. Try the corn fritters or creamy mushrooms and make sure you walk up to the art studio for a look after you've had breakfast.
Coffee: Cafe Baku serves amazing Allpress coffee and you get a great view over the lake as a bonus. Plus they have the most incredible range of cakes and slices in their cabinet (also a good selection for GF, paleo, vegan etc) if you feel like something sweet to go with your coffee. And the cheese scones are famous in Taupō.
Long lunch: Vine Eatery & Bar is our regular go-to. It offers a sophisticated vibe, great service and a menu to suit everyone – you can choose to share from their tapas menu or enjoy your own meal from the a la carte menu. The cocktails are great, the wine list extensive and you can also grab a craft beer or whiskey from their huge range.
Dinner: The Bistro is an awesome family-owned restaurant offering delicious meals at reasonable prices. Jude is an award-winning chef and is absolutely passionate about great service and good produce and you can see that in his meals. You must try the pork belly.
Drinks: For drinks with a view, you can't go past the Two Mile Bay Sailing Centre. It has a very casual vibe as it's right on the water, so you can literally walk from the lake into the bar for an ice-cold drink. If you've worked up an appetite, the wood-fired pizzas are pretty sensational too.
24 hours in Auckland with Stephanie Holmes, NZ Herald Travel Editor
Breakfast: Al Brown's Federal Delicatessen is as close as you can get to being in New York without leaving downtown Auckland. Go for the bottomless coffee, a Jewish diner-style menu, and friendly staff in retro uniforms. Then come back later for cocktails and desserts.
Coffee: Elk on Graham St not only serves perfectly made Atomic coffee, it also is about 10 steps across the road from my work, so is really convenient. But it's not just a stop for frazzled office workers, the staff are super friendly and the cabinet food is delicious. The cheese and Marmite scones have saved my life on deadline day, on a number of occasions.
Long lunch: A long lunch needs to come with an epic view, so I recommend Soul at the Viaduct. It's become an Auckland institution since opening in 2001, but the menu is constantly evolving, and you'll never tire of the views. Or, if you've got a bit more time on your hands, head across the water to Waiheke, where pretty much every single establishment has a view to covet.
Dinner: Culprit is a hidden gem on Wyndham St, up a flight of stairs which you could easily miss if you didn't know what to look for. The food is imaginative, fun and always delicious.
Drinks: My current favourite is Ambler cafe and bistro, which is just up the road from home in Pt Chev. The cocktails are excellent, the wine list varied but not overwhelming and it's the kind of place you'll meet neighbourhood friends for a quiet late-afternoon wine, and end up staying for dinner.
24 hours in Queenstown with Hayley Scott, GM of food and beverage and marketing at Sherwood hotel
Breakfast: Bespoke Kitchen offers lots of plant-based options and really seasonal dishes. Don't miss the chia-based pudding or porridge if they are on the menu - a perfect start for chilly Queenstown mornings.
Coffee: The Boat Shed Cafe & Bistro is great. Jimmy has just taken over and I know they got an absolute pounding during lockdown - personally, I was desperate for my coffee. It's right on the lake, so it's beautiful as well.
Long lunch: For a day out with girlfriends, it has to be Akarua Winery, between Queenstown and Arrowtown. Local couple Deb and John from Artisan Catering look after the food, and they do most amazing platters and grazing plates, which are perfect to share over a glass or two.
Dinner: My last amazing dinner out was at Aosta in Arrowtown, which is Ben Bayly's restaurant down here. It's all about the handmade pasta. It's the kind of place where you feel confident to try something a little different because you know it's going to be really great. Plus, the service is awesome.
Drinks: For a night out, it has to be Blue Door, tucked down the lane behind Aosta. If you are lucky to get in, they often have live music and DJs. And, of course, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to cellar doors down here, but I have to give a special mention to Mt Edward and their organic wines.
24 hours in Mount Maunganui and Tauranga with Ian White, owner of Polar Dessert Bar
Breakfast: If you're looking for a breakfast with a view of the hustle and bustle of city life, then a seat at Tauranga's Elizabeth Cafe and Larder should be just the ticket. Try the keto waffles or eggs bene.
Coffee: Head just down the road and the coffee (and the pastries) at Love Rosie are delicious.
Long lunch: Why not take a drive out to Papamoa Beach to Pearl Kitchen. It might not be not an obvious choice, but it's definitely a hidden gem…and if you stick around long enough on a Friday and Saturday night, their pizza is also an absolute must.
Dinner: If it's a special occasion, or you're after fine dining, you won't be disappointed by Clarence Bistro with its beautiful Art-Deco setting and stunning old building (post house) conversion. Or, you could finish the day in the vibrant Main St of Mount Maunganui with authentic Vietnamese at Rice Rice Baby or more traditional family dining at Zeytins Mediterranean followed by the absolutely the best desserts in town at Polar Bar with our famous cold plate icecream and sweet waffles (but I would say that).
Drinks: Head to Our Place, an innovative urban space in the heart of the Tauranga CBD with a vibrant and energetic backdrop of street food, cafes and bars, which combines music, arts and fashion all under one roof in modern cool containers with large open public spaces, creating a real community hub. There are more than 40 craft and tap beers at High Tide if brews are your thing, then just a stone's throw away is Wharf St, where you can find an enthusiastic welcome at The Hop House.
24 hours in Christchurch with Anton Matthews, owner of Fush and Joe's Garage Wigram
Breakfast: Everyday starts at Joe's Wigram for me with a handful of long blacks and brekkie. No bookings, it's relaxed, it's local and everyone knows your name.
Coffee: If Jess and I need to get away from work and have a coffee date alone, we normally head down the road to Addington Coffee Co Op. It's always buzzing and they make a long black just the way I like it, not too long.
Long lunch: I don't know if it's because I'm not cool enough or because I don't have time for a long lunch, but I've certainly got a few go-to spots for just regular lunch. Depending on how I'm feeling, a dozen dumplings from Pot Sticker always hits the spot, or a Spicy Miso Ramen from Samurai Bowl near South City is a fave or an acai bowl from Park Ranger in Riccarton.
I might be biased, but I can't go past
for dinner. Real kiwi fish and chips, fried chicken, milkshakes, broccoli bowls and burgers is my kind of kai. It's cool, it's relaxed and the manaakitanga (hospitality) is always front and centre. I'm biased, of course, but I built it that way.
Drinks: To be honest, it's rare that I go out for drinks. I'd rather grab a decent bottle of bubbles and a bag of salt and vinegar chips and head up the Port Hills for the view. But if I'm looking for a post-dinner treat, it's got to be a couple of scoops from Rolickin Gelato on New Regent St. Every flavour is good and my kids love it too.