Best Coffee Shops In New Zealand? Caffeine Fiends Spill Their Favourite Beans

By Madeleine Crutchley
Creatives share some of their favourite coffee shops across the country. Photo / Babiche Martens

We’re a country of vehement caffeine fiends. Local designers, our Poet Laureate and more energised creatives share their favourite coffee shops, from Tāmaki Makaurau to Frankton.

The chatter, the communing, the slightly caffeinated air. Starting the day at a coffee shop can make the world feel more tangible and open.

Much has been made of the role of the cafe as a “third place” for us to frequent, outside of work and home.

This ideal envisages a chance to relax near the varied people who make up our neighbourhoods — connecting broader strokes of our communities in a warm and welcoming place.

We’re particularly good at creating these spaces in Aotearoa. There’s a passionate interest in cafe culture that enables us to engage with each other and create a firm sense of place. In the hustle of the usual routine, our insistence to prioritise a sociable site of rest and hospitality is quite a tonic.

And because we view these places as such crucial institutions, we often choose our regular haunts with a great deal of care. Below, a coterie of creatives, chefs and other coffee-loving people share their favourite coffee stops and all the reasons they love them.

The halloumi sandwich at Fort Greene. Photo / Guy Coombes
The halloumi sandwich at Fort Greene. Photo / Guy Coombes

Fort Greene

Recommended by Nahyeon Lee. 327 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD.

Nahyeon Lee, writer, director and creator of Punctum Productions, heads to Fort Greene on Karangahape Rd for her regular cappuccino or iced latte and almond croissant — “the best in Tāmaki Makaurau!” Fort Greene, owned by Liam Fox and Andrea Mulhausen, had its beginnings in a small space in St Kevins Arcade. In its larger location since 2018, the cafe offers coffee alongside sandwiches, loaves, pastries and all sorts of baked goods (Viva’s Johanna Thornton recommends the sourdough sandwiches, shouting out their kahawai on rye).

Nahyeon says she chooses Fort Greene for the “great pastries and great humans who work there.” It’s also “so central to our great local arts creatives, makers and dreamers on K Rd.”


Recommended by Jennifer Cheuk. 19 O’Connell St, Auckland CBD.

Auckland’s CBD is scattered with little coffee nooks. Jennifer Cheuk, editor of Rat World Magazine, programme manager for the Auckland Writers Festival and writer, frequents Rumours on O’Connell St. The creative chooses a decaf long black or chamomile and cinnamon tea. It’s a sleek spot — the spacious room is finished with dark wood, concrete and welcoming warm lights.

Jennifer says, “It’s my go-to place for Rat World meetings and I enjoy the sense of openness — I feel like it really encourages ideas and conversation.” She is also a huge fan of the “delicious crunchy and buttery” coffee buns.

“I Instagram DM the Rumours team more often than I would like to admit asking if the coffee buns are stocked on a particular day. Every day, I wake up hoping that I will have a coffee bun. It’s the only thing keeping me alive. The black sesame cookies are also good too.”

The famous cinnamon buns at the Manurewa cafe. Photo / Hill House Cafe
The famous cinnamon buns at the Manurewa cafe. Photo / Hill House Cafe

Hill House Cafe

Recommended by Geoffery Matautia. 70 Hill Rd, Hillpark, Auckland.

When @southsides photographer and founder of Period7 Geoffery Matautia is after a brew, he heads to Hill House Cafe in Manurewa. The order, with a description accompanied by a self-aware laughing face emoji, is an iced coconut latte with caramel. The creative is also keen on the cafe’s cabinet food (the Viva team rate their cheese scone offerings highly).

“[I’ll get] their famous cinnamon buns, when I’m feeling something sweet or their sage and onion scone.”

There’s a certain presence in the spot that Geoffery also appreciates.

“It’s one of the few cafes in Manurewa, the staff are lovely and they’re based out of Nathan Homestead which is always buzzing with creativity and a diverse community who occupy and share the space.”

It’s been announced that the current Hill House Cafe location is due to close in June, as the Manurewa Local Board made the decision to carry out seismic strengthening at the site.

Mr. T’s

Recommended by Jojo Ross. 210 Ōnehunga Mall, Ōnehunga, Auckland.

Local designer Jojo Ross occasionally treats herself to a Vietnamese iced coffee or a “classic” oat flat white at Mr. T’s (located just down the road from her Ōnehunga studio). She also sometimes opts for the highly regarded bakery eats: “I love a báhn mì or a steak and cheese pie, and being able to buy freshly made bread on the way home from work in the weekend is such a bonus.”

The cafe also sells rolls, phó and pastries (as well as seasonal offerings like hot cross buns). Mr. T’s recently hosted a pop-up in collaboration with fine dining restaurant Lillius, serving up boar cheek rolls, raw fish salads and matcha and pumpkin éclairs.


Recommended by Framina Lambert. 1 Ocean View Rd, Port Waikato.

Sundays, a kitted-out container coffee shop, sits atop the receding dunes at Port Waikato’s Sunset Beach. It’s a common meeting point for locals and visiting surfers and swimmers, handing out coffee in mix-and-match cups. Framina Lambert of independent NZ label Ronnie Blu, loves the spot, which supplies a good long black and toastie.

“Sundays is locally owned and the coffee itself is by Riley Coffee Roasters, which is also owned by a local couple. I also just love the location, it’s the perfect spot right by the beach where you can watch the surf all day and catch up with everyone.”

Framina says that supporting local reflects the work of Ronnie Blu, which is designed and sampled in Auckland and manufactured in Nelson.

“Everything is cut and sewn by Nelson locals who I’ve known since I was about 5 years old. So supporting local is really important to me.”

Pour & Twist

Recommended by James Warrender. 13 Garrett St, Te Aro, Wellington.

James Warrender, the artistic director of design collective New Life Studios (soon to show at Dunedin iD Fashion Festival), points to the small coffee bar Pour & Twist as a source of “quality hand-brewed coffee”. Instead of the usual iced coffee, the creative sometimes opts for the “grey marble” coffee (made with activated charcoal powder and maple). James says the kimchi toastie is “probably, by far, by far the best in New Zealand”.

James feels the cafe is particularly “passionate about their craft and they’ve created a warm, welcoming space for anyone to come and relax and try something new”.

Illustrator Bonnie Brown loves Customs at 39 Ghuznee St, Te Aro. Photo / @customsbrews
Illustrator Bonnie Brown loves Customs at 39 Ghuznee St, Te Aro. Photo / @customsbrews


Recommended by Bonnie Brown. 39 Ghuznee St, Te Aro, Wellington.

The illustrator behind Studio Bon, Bonnie Brown, grabs a “cosy” window seat at Customs to sketch and people/dog watch. She enjoys an oat flat white or iced latte but has an especially hot tip: “Order the iced oat with a dash of maple if you want to change your life.”

Among the must-tries for kai, Bonnie suggests the sourdough fruit toast with salted butter or, for more seasonal fare, the hot cross buns.

Viva’s unofficial Wellington correspondent Julia Gessler also marks Customs as her favourite coffee shop in the capital (she recommends pairing the apple fritters with your brew).


Recommended by Chris Tse. 70 Molesworth St, Thorndon, Wellington.

Poet Chris Tse, fittingly, settles into HOME Cafe in the National Library for his usual flat white.

“It’s right next to my office and it’s also super handy when I need to meet library staff about Poet Laureate matters.”

The “legendary” cheese scones and breakfast muffins are good picks from the menu, though Chris finds the most appreciation for the cafe-meets-library as a gathering space.

“There’s lots of light and space, and comfortable seats, which makes it a great place to have a catch-up with friends or meet people for more ‘proper’ meetings. And I love that it shows that libraries can be more than just about books — they’re spaces that are integral to bringing communities together.”

Peoples Coffee

Recommended by Stacey Teague. 12 Constable St, Newtown, Wellington.

Stacey Teague (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāpuhi), author of the upcoming poetry book Plastic, heads to Peoples Coffee for a decaf oat flat white, having given up regular coffee many years ago. Peoples Coffee serves brews made with fairtrade and organic coffee beans, in a woody and warm dining room.

Stacey still heads to the espresso bar, despite the avoidance of caffeine, for a convivial feeling (and the pear danish).

“It’s close to my house, the staff are great, there are good dogs. It’s also the number one place to run into people you know, which is mostly a good thing.”


Recommended by Beth Brash. 38 Dixon Str, 5 Lombard St and 91B Park Rd, Wellington.

Beth Brash, manager of Visa Wellington On A Plate, often enjoys a flat white from one of three Swimsuit locations. She says the coffee shop brand, which recently celebrated its fifth birthday, also stocks a superlative cafe classic.

“Swimsuit have, in my humble opinion, the best cheese scones in the city. They’re super cheesy [and use a] double buttering technique — once before it is toasted, and then second after it is toasted. I’ve known people who triple butter with extra butter on the side.”

Swimsuit is a spot open for frequent foodie collaborations and events. The cafe even puts out semi-regular playlists. It’s a sensibility that industry expert Beth appreciates. “Sure, the coffee is good, but for [these] places it is about the people. True hospitality lives up to its name.”

Coolsville Cartel

Recommended by Max Gordy. 3A Moxham Ave, Hataitai, Wellington.

Chef at pescetarian Graze Wine Bar and “one of the more caffeinated Wellingtonians”, Max Gordy says he’s likely found at Coolsville Cartel in Hataitai every morning. His favourite coffee is simple and returns a sense of hospitality to his baristas.

“Long blacks are always my go-to, I guess it’s a chef thing where I don’t want to cause too much disruption to people’s routines.”

Max discloses a few other regular sites for sipping on Cuba St, including Orange Coffee Shop, Fred’s Sandwiches (try the beef roll) and Floriditas (scrambled eggs with fried potatoes). What distinguishes an ideal spot for the chef?

“All these spots have such great quality in their offering and the hospitality that comes with it is amazing. It makes me feel so loved!”

Photo / Instagram, @akin.chch
Photo / Instagram, @akin.chch

Akin Cafe

Recommended by Rosie Carroll. 235 High St, Christchurch Central City.

In Ōtautahi, Rosie Carroll of secondhand thrift store Nifty, shops around the city for her iced americano coffee (“spoiled for choice”). Pressed for one pick, she turns to the bright and airy Akin Cafe in the CBD. Rosie highlights the welcoming atmosphere of the cafe, as well as the morning sun and friendly service. There’s also a must-try treat.

“The sea salt and chocolate chip cookie is my favourite — I fear by sharing this I’m increasing the chances of them selling out, but the people need to know. With a black coffee, it’s an unbeatable combo.”

Wolf Coffee Roasters

Recommended by Annabel Dickson. 44 Buckingham St, Arrowtown, Otago.

Viva’s fashion assistant heads to the Little French Cafe in Point Chev for her coffee and pastry fix while working in Tāmaki Makaurau.

But, when she heads home for the holidays and to visit family, Annabel says, “I cannot leave without a visit to my favourite cafe Wolf Coffee Roasters.”

Wolf Coffee Roasters is a slick and slightly industrial spot (a stylistic point of difference in Arrowtown, Annabel notes). The roastery also supplies small batches of coffee to other spots in Queenstown. If you’re stopping, Annabel recommends tucking into their sweet options too.

“They also make quite possibly the best doughnut I have ever eaten. I chose berry, which had chopped up strawberries in a berry creme, and it was to die for.”

The mug library at Hustl. Cafe. Photo / Instagram, @hustl.qt
The mug library at Hustl. Cafe. Photo / Instagram, @hustl.qt

Hustl. Cafe

Recommended by Lucy McCrostie. 19 Grant Rd, Frankton, Queenstown.

Further south in Frankton, owner and florist at All Bunched Up Florals, Lucy McCrostie heads across the street from her studio to pick up her regular vanilla iced latte or coconut flat white (and the occasional fresh juice).

“They don’t do takeaway cups, [instead] they have a library of mugs you can use!”

She also enjoys the cabinet food, passing on a recommendation for the chicken and kimchi wrap is her favourite. There’s also a close relationship that brings her back to the hospitable cafe.

“I went to school with the owner Leah — I love to support local businesses.”

More on cafe culture

From the hottest spots to dine out to expert opinions.

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The best places in Auckland for a great sandwich and a coffee. These Auckland locations sling the best sammies in town.

Wellington’s best cafes: From hot new things to historic institutions. Read on for all the caffeine and character you could possibly need.

Baristas on what makes a good mug (plus 8 coffee-ready cups we love). Expert coffee pourers on the cups that cater to your caffeine needs.

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