Make the most of long days, warm evenings and carefree summer vibes, with a visit to these top alfresco dining spots around the country.
Whangārei's Town Basin is a picturesque scene over the marina, right in the city centre. Watch the boats come and go as you dine over water at The Quay Kitchen.
Head lakeside in Hamilton and enjoy the shores of Lake Rotoroa, within the Hamilton Lake Domain. Enjoy brunch or lunch at The Verandah, or enjoy icecream at the lakeside kiosk. It's an ideal spot for families as the waterside setting has children's playgrounds and picnic spaces.
Bay of Plenty
For the ultimate urban waterfront retreat, stay a night at Trinity Wharf, a stunning luxurious over-water hotel with panoramic water views. Or just pop in for a drink and a bite to eat at the Trinity Wharf Restaurant.
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There's much to soak up on New Plymouth's waterfront. Enjoy watching the busy shipping harbour at Taranaki Port 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 flavour to its style, using upcycled materials, and even bits of old wharf timbers. You'll feel like you're relaxing in a traditional Kiwi bach. The cafe is situated at the end of the Coastal Walkway, overlooking a child-friendly beach.
Forget about time and watch the waves roll in at Lyall Bay's iconic Maranui Cafe. The funky cafe sits above the Surf Life Saving Club and has oodles of personality with an eclectic mix of furniture and bright decor inside, and large windows for views out to the ocean.
Take a stroll along Wakefield Quay, which is also a prime waterfront dining destination 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 brisk in the south, Dunedin's St Clair has a Bondi Beach vibe, with bars along the Esplanade and the outdoor Hot Salt Water Pool, a saltwater and chlorinated pool heated to 28C. Opt for any of the great eateries such as The Long Dog, Spirit House, tītī, Starfish and Salt. The area's boutique accommodation all add to the fun beachside vibes of Dunedin.
Further inland in Central Otago, grab a drink at Queenstown's boat bar - Perky's Floating Bar on the Million Dollar cruise jetty. Check out the spectacular vistas of Lake Wakatipu and the beautiful alpine mountains surrounding the area, while enjoying local wine and beer. The boat has a heated deck, and is permanently moored at the jetty. You can also bring your own takeaway food onboard, and it's dog friendly too.
Just out of Invercargill at the settlement of Riverton, you can imagine life in a traditional South Island crib at The Crib Cafe. It's a quirky venue in central Riverton, with all sorts of treasures one would expect to find in a southern crib. Soak up the laid back beach vibes with great coffee and home-baked goods.
This is an edited version of a story that first appeared in NZ Herald Travel on January 25 2021. For more great holiday ideas, go to nzherald.co.nz/travel