As one of New Zealand’s most popular travel destinations for international visitors, Queenstown is often the first port of call for those travelling to NZ for the first time.
While its ski and adventure experience scenes get the most press, the charming resort town also boasts a surprisingly strong culinary scene to offer visitors and locals alike, with the added benefit of most of its top spots being within easy reach of one another.
As a result, staying in Queenstown and trying a number of quality meals during your stay is both an easy and enticing possibility; simply stroll down the likes of Beach or Shotover Streets and you’ll come across numerous top spots for a bite to eat.
But which dining spots rank amongst Queenstown’s best? Here, we highlight 10 of the best restaurants in Queenstown, covering a balanced range of both cuisine types and budget levels.
10. Blue Kanu
Location: Church Street, Queenstown, NZ
Cuisine: Pacific fusion
This relatively new addition to the Queenstown dining scene scores major points for originality and flair, offering something completely different to its more traditional and established lineup of restaurants. Both in terms of its menu offerings and its decor, Blue Kanu makes a solid attempt at bringing another part of the world and planting it firmly in the heart of a New Zealand tourist town, and this it does so admirably and in a variety of ways.
The most immediately obvious thing upon making a visit here is theÂ decor; there’s been no attempt made at subtlety, albeit in an entirely good way – the restaurant has been decked out in a funky and vibrant motif that incorporates icons and imagery from throughout the Pacific.
This is augmented by the liberal use of coloured lighting that helps set the scene for dining in the midst of an island nation – with the food only serving to reinforce this fact.
Blue Kanu’s menu incorporates strong influences from both Pacific and Asian cuisines to produce an interesting blend of tastes that most likely would not have encountered previously. It’s a fun place to dine for the potential for simply trying new things, and as much of the menu is oriented around sharing, it makes for a wonderful way to take in a greater variety of flavours in one sitting.
While larger meals are also available, going the tapas-style route at Blue Kanu encourages more experimentation, and the generous portion sizes mean you’ll never be left wanting this way.
Standout dishes include the steamed pork buns, wonderfully done Kokoda and sticky pork ribs among countless others, with all of them well priced. The restaurant also offers live music some nights of the week as well as a heated outdoor seating area for cooler nights, rounding out its overall atmosphere.
Throw in some friendly and outgoing service from entrance to payment that seems to consist mainly of local staff for an extra layer of authenticity, and you’ve got a great and original venue in Queenstown for dining in a fun and upbeat setting.
9. The Spice Room
Location: Shotover Street, Queenstown, NZ
What’s one of the most satisfying ways to warm up after a full day on the Queenstown slopes? Sampling one of the excellently-spiced meals from the aptly-named Spice Room has to rank as one of the top methods, offering a number of excellent renditions of staple dishes of Indian cuisine at a very reasonable price point.
The fact that Queenstown is relatively lacking in other quality Indian offerings only helps the Spice Room to stand out even more, and it carries with it a more modern and upmarket feel than the average restaurant of its ilk.
The restaurant is fairly hidden and unassuming given its upstairs location, however upon entering the strong and tantalising aromas that permeate the air are a welcome indicator of things to come.
Incredibly attentive staff do a greet-and-seat on arrival, and the lovely lounge area makes for an enjoyable dining atmosphere; should you be seated by the windows, you’ll also have a nice view looking down over the street to boot.
The Spice Room hangs its hat on taking typical flavours and dishes of the Indian cuisine done with an original spin that help them stand out from generic curries and other dishes that you’ll likely come across at the average of such establishments.
In this way, they’re one of the closest chances most will have to try the real thing without actually visiting India itself; all of the goat curry, Tikka Masala and – especially – onion Bhaji are wonderful, while the use of a robust-in-flavour mango chutney adds a welcome contrasting taste.
Even the basics here are done very well; meat used within meals trends towards incredibly fresh and tender, while the naan bread is lovely and doughy as well. In all, expect a great depth of flavour that comes with highly customised levels of spice depending on your personal tastes to avoid any unpleasantness (both during dining and thereafter).
There are substantial wine and cocktail lists from which to choose here, too, with some of the wines serving as surprisingly good complements to many of its meals.
8. Farelli’s Trattoria
Location: Beach Street, Queenstown, NZ
This quaint venue with warm and welcoming service has one particular standout feature that other restaurants in the area can’t match: simply put if you’re looking for the best pasta in Queenstown, this is the place to go.
Located amongst the complex at Steamer Wharf, Farelli’s Trattoria isn’t a fine dining venue – it’s largely casual and carries with it a laid-back atmosphere – however it’s host to meals that feature excellent pasta in its various forms that are both flavoursome and hearty.
The pasta here stands out for both its taste and texture, as it’s obviously home-made rather than purchased externally, and its utilised as a base for wonderful effect in dishes that come in extremely generous portions.
There’s no skimping on the prawns and other shellfish here, for example, and even the entrees are filling enough to serve as a substitute main for those who aren’t too hungry as the sizes of mains are huge and represent tremendous value for money.
Gnocchi, in particular, is a standout that’s filling to boot, while the squid ink linguini is another menu highlight that the more adventurous diner should definitely sample. Steak is also very well done here in terms of both quality and inherent level of tenderness. While the menu is slightly limited, this has been done intentionally so in order to focus on what Farelli’s does best, and it shows.
The menu does a good job of being both vegan and vegetarian-friendly as well and is rounded out by a solid wine and beer selection with which to accompany the meals.
Atmosphere-wise, the decor here is lovely and comes with an authentically “Italian” look that feels natural rather than forced or cheesy, with the restaurant’s fireplace making for a comfortable and cosy spot to enjoy a winter meal, too. Fans of Italian food will find that a meal at Farelli’s checks all the requisite boxes, and then some.
7. Atlas Beer Cafe
Location: Beach Street, Queenstown, NZ
Cuisine: Bar & Eatery
Sitting in a picturesque waterfront location at the end of the wharf overlooking Lake Wakatipu, Atlas Beer Cafe is small in size but big on variety, and excels in providing visitors with the chance to both samples a wide range of local and exotic brews while also getting a very reasonably-priced feed.
It’s not only home to a friendly, lively and eclectic atmosphere but serves as a solid go-to choice for a great meal without breaking the bank and thus ranks amongst the most reasonably-priced spots in town as far as value for money is concerned.
The foremost focus of Atlas is a location where visitors can sample a surprisingly extensive array of beers given the venue’s size; there are dozens of craft beers to choose from here, with a number of highly regarded NZ drops from all over the country as well as a standout sparkling ale that goes down super easy and a terrific pale ale straight from Wellington.
For the uninitiated, bar staff are willing to allow you to sample a taste of a few different varieties before committing to a pint, too, which comes off as an extra level of customer care and attention to detail that helps to add to the already welcoming feeling it provides.
Food-wise, don’t expect anything fancy or flash – it’s pub style fare all the way – however it’s done exceptionally well at Atlas and at a more than respectable price point. The restaurant has a reputation as the steak place among locals for a reason; steaks here are large, perfectly cooked, easy to cut and great value for your dollar; they come accompanied by fries and salad as well as a choice of dipping sauces.
It may not sound mind-blowing, however, in what is basically a tourist town, getting all this for around $20 represents something of a steal. Seafood fans will enjoy the wonderfully done mussels here, too.
The atmosphere and decor-wise Atlas is charming in its own way; its interior is relatively tiny given its popularity and thus there is limited seating indoors, however, there’s plenty of space to drink and dine outside and the outlook makes this worthwhile anyway. It’s staffed by some truly friendly and talkative people that help make Atlas a great spot for first-timers to Queenstown to visit and gain more knowledge of what to see and do in the area, all while enjoying a quality drop.
Dispensing quality brews & top views all at a reasonable price – what more could a visitor to Queenstown want?
6. Ivy & Lola’s
Location: Beach Street, Queenstown, NZ
Cuisine: NZ cosmopolitan
Another Steamer Wharf establishment, Ivy & Lola’s is locally owned and operated hybrid between restaurant, bar and all-purpose dining hub, that augments its lovely waterfront location with a quaint and charming atmosphere and excellent service.
Low-key, subdued and altogether snug, this venue serves as a great dining spot for breakfast and dinner alike while also doubling as an excellent location to enjoy a drink while taking in the sunset over the water and the Remarkables.
Ivy & Lola’s is enjoyable to dine at both inside and out, with a great view of the lake and blankets and heaters dispensed to visitors to help make the outside dining experience during cold season much more comfortable.
It has an atmosphere all of its own that helps differentiate itself from many other Queenstown restaurants, rounded out by quirky decors such as old radios and other trinkets that provide an extra sense of character. It’s classy without ever feeling pretentious even though the restaurant ranks towards the mid-to-upper echelon of dining options in town.
Of course, all of this would be for nothing if the food was substandard, however, this is far from the case; this locally owned and operated venue offers guests a menu with excellent variation and – as with many other entrants on this list – characteristically huge servings for the money spent.
Each of the meals on offer excellent in their own way, with highlights including delectably tender venison, a gorgeous pork belly, and the unusually yet wonderfully original mussels in apple and mustard sauce.
The breakfast menu is likewise robust, and although it leans towards the savoury rather than the sweet, there’s enough variety to make for a gorgeous morning meal here (be sure to try the Eggs Benedict).
All the cuisine is locally-sourced and it shows; freshness is a key feature of many of the restaurant’s dishes, which come with a wide array of gluten-free options for those so inclined, too.
Close to the centre of Queenstown to be in the thick of it all yet still feeling somehow cosy and secluded, there are few better multi-purpose dining spots that serve so many purposes so well as Ivy & Lola’s – whether that be breakfast, a drink, or simply enjoying a coffee while soaking in the panorama from the deck.
Location: Shotover Street, Queenstown, NZ
It’s relatively rare for what is essentially a “burger joint” to make a list of best restaurants, but Fergburger has been such an integral part of Queenstown for so long now and does what it does so well, that any first-time trip here makes a trip to Ferg’s a must-do.
There’s a reason it’s not uncommon to see huge lineups down the street consisting of those wanting to order one of its famous burgers; the place has become famous due to the sheer quality of its offerings.
Fergburger has a particularly strong reputation among backpackers, however this isn’t the simple and cheap fast-food-esque burger one might typically expect for such a demographic; a burger by itself here will set you back something in the realm of $12, but it’s an investment that turns out to be more than well worth it every time.
The burgers at Fergburger are huge, their patties are thick and juicy, their buns are crispy and fresh, and all of the ingredients contained within are doubly so.
There’s not even such an extensive variety of burgers on offer here; it’s just that each one is so great it’s nearly impossible to make a wrong choice, be it the favoured Southern Swine or – for those wanting a challenge – opting to try the My. Big Stuff.
An excess of quality toppings on each burger does make for some messy eating, but in this case, it’s all part of the fun. Don’t let those long queues fool you, either; the restaurant is almost eternally busy yet operates like a well-oiled machine, with burgers dispensed post-haste without ever compromising on their quality.
Located right in the centre of Queenstown and thus hard to miss, it’s difficult to rank a burger restaurant alongside such different and more standard dining venues, however, Fergburger is well worth a spot on any Queenstown must-eat list.
4. The Bunker
Location: Cow Lane, Queenstown, NZ
Cuisine: Euro-New Zealand fusion
If you’re in Queenstown and looking to enjoy a reliable and memorable fine dining experience without any of the typical pretentiousness that goes with it, The Bunker offers an excellent spot in which to do so.
Tucked away down a relatively obscured laneway, it’s a place that’s often easy to miss, yet well worth seeking out; the size of the venue is small and feels inherently exclusive, which adds to what is an excellent all-around balance of atmosphere, service, and delectable French-inspired food.
The Bunker is split into two levels – the bottom a restaurant, and upstairs a bar – and boasts a subdued atmosphere for diners that brings with it a truly cosy feeling. Dim lighting is used to create an intimate atmosphere that’s especially appealing during those cold Queenstown winter nights, with the lighting going hand-in-hand with the dark wooden decor to create a classy aspect.
The roaring open fire adds an extra dash of life to the proceedings, and the limited number of tables on offer – seating seems to be for roughly 20 – 25 people at most – makes you feel like you’re one of the lucky ones.
Menu-wise, the Bunker’s is interesting and quite varied, incorporating a liberal use of quality local produce throughout while co-opting influences from both France and local New Zealand style fare to make for a delightful fusion of tastes to try. How deep a dive you wish to go into its offerings can vary quite drastically; the tasting plates for two are a great way to get started and get the palate ready for further marvels to come.
Duck liver parfait is done with an extremely smooth texture, venison is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and pork belly is sublime, while those having trouble choosing can instead opt for an extended 7-course degustation menu that covers an excellent cross-section of the restaurant’s dishes and flavours.
This is all rounded out by a lovely wine list and the chance to sample some expertly-made cocktails either before or afterwards from the upstairs area as well. Service is personalised and attentive without being overly intrusive, with all dishes explained expertly and with a warm and courteous attitude.
Due to its popularity and limited seating, if you’re planning to dine at The Bunker be sure to book well in advance to ensure this wonderful spot does not go missing.
Location: Ballarat Street, Queenstown, NZ
Cuisine: New Zealand contemporary
Staking its claim on the back of the reputation of famed chef Josh Emett, Rata has plenty to live up to expectations-wise but definitely delivers, offering diners a very sophisticated menu alongside fine dining in a relaxed environment that borders on surprisingly casual given the restaurant’s overall quality of both food and service.
Rata is another of those places you won’t discover simply by wandering around Queenstown as it’s nestled in an odd spot amongst some of the town’s older heritage buildings, however stepping inside it’s anything but old or tired.
The decor at Rata reflects the overall experience of this restaurant nicely; blending together both the modern and the rustic in elegant fashion, it utilises some well-done use of natural light to provide an open and airy feel, with some interesting New Zealand forestry motifs adorning one wall a nice touch in particular.
It’s obvious that a high degree of pride was taken when planning such a layout, and this pride carries over to all other aspects of the dining experience at Rata as well from service and meal quality to the presentation.
Each dish is plated beautifully regardless of if it’s on the lunch or dinner menus, and servings here are also ample as opposed to the trends of some comparative fine dining establishments that feel they can skimp on quality for the sake of appearances.
There are a number of standout dishes on the eclectic menu that crosses barriers between New Zealand, Asian and some touches of Euro-influences as well; Beef Wellington, truffle soup, and a salmon & leek main are all terrific, however, it’s the unassuming honey and goat’s cheese profiteroles that steal the show.
Desserts here also warrant a special mention as they’re quite different from the norm and delectable across the board; salted caramel balls are a speciality and get the mixed battle of savoury-vs-sweet just right. Repeat visits are rewarded with a regularly updated menu that changes alongside the seasons, with a wonderful cross-section of dishes covered throughout the year.
If there was one word to best describe dining at Rata, it would likely be “refined”; its service is friendly and courteous, its dishes modern and satisfying, and its overall atmosphere classy without being at all stuffy. It’s another standout that throws its hat into Queenstown’s already impressive dining scene.
2. Eichardt’s Bar & Dining
Location: Marine Parade, Queenstown, NZ
Cuisine: Bar & Tapas
This hybrid bar/restaurant ticks a number of boxes when it comes to being an easy to recommend go-to dining option for perhaps the broadest range of travellers possible.
Eichardt’s specialises in tapas, but it’s done in a high-end and substantially-filling fashion while providing a venue that’s comfortable and historic, well-located, and utterly friendly across the board. It’s a small sized multi-purpose option that features industrial-style decor with a roaring open fire, and a welcoming old-world feel to its ambience.
The venue is quite romantic inside, with guests able to find a little corner all to themselves, and a cosy atmosphere exemplified from the deep, old leather chairs in the lobby through to the overall snug layout of the dining area.
It’s also another spot with great lake views, particularly should you chance to be seated by the windows and serves as prime real estate to sit back and watch the world of both Queenstown locals and international travellers go by.
Dining at Eichardt’s is focused around its robust tapas menu, and as such it’s a restaurant where you’ll get to sample a broad cross-section of flavours; the mantra of meant to be shared applies here.
While tapas may have its critics, the ability to eat as you go avoids the sometimes irksome issue of either under or over-ordering that the typical entree-main-dessert trio often lends itself to. Many of the tapas dishes here are unique to boot, with standouts such as the roasted beetroot with smoked ricotta, slow-cooked brisket, lamb cheeks and various others all proving mouth watering and reasonably filling.
These are good sized portions without being over the top, and they’re all beautifully plated which adds an extra sense of care. Lovely profiteroles serve as a great capper, as do some of the excellent drinks on offer at the attached bar (which also helps make waiting for your seat a joy as opposed to a chore).
The staff here are friendly and fun to have a chat with and add to the already great overall blend of quality, warmth and style. In all, Eichardt’s is an ideal choice of spots when you don’t know exactly what else to choose or are having trouble deciding; the sheer degree of quality variation in dishes here means the something for everyone cliche truly applies. In this sense, it’s hard to beat in terms of versatility and flexible dining enjoyment.
1. Botswana Butchery
Location: Marine Parade, Queenstown, NZ
Cuisine: New Zealand contemporary
Is this Queenstown’s “best” overall restaurant? While the answer is entirely subjective and will depend on a number of factors including personal taste, it’s hard to argue that Botswana Butchery is anything but the town’s best fine dining and special occasion restaurant.
Make no mistake, this is high-end dining and one must be prepared to pay appropriately, however upon investing your money you’ll come away with few more memorable dining experiences in the region.
The restaurant’s name is somewhat misleading – while meat undoubtedly serves as the focal point, with a large portion of its offerings showcasing contrasting cuts of meat to full effect, there are also plentiful seafood and even vegetarian options on the menu as well; in all, the menu is highly comprehensive so there are few constraints as far as choice is concerned.
Meat lovers will find few better places in which to tantalise their taste buds, however, and while the steak is a mouth-watering signature, the likes of venison tartare and a delectable lamb shoulder rank top on the list of potential dishes.
Add in options for the likes of deer, duck, crab, escargot and various other staples of fine dining all expertly prepared, and it’s nearly impossible to go wrong with the choice of dishes here.
One of Botswana Butchery’s other key highlights is its enormous and expansive wine cellar. Consisting of both local and international labels and complemented by a friendly (and strikingly knowledgeable) sommelier, it’s one of the largest wine selections you’ll come across while dining in New Zealand with a variety to coincide with every dish on the menu in wonderful fashion.
In terms of decor and location, Botswana Butchery is situated within a charming cottage-style building across Lake Wakatipu that is plush and luxuriant inside and is very elegant and well-laid-out in terms of interior design. Private dining rooms on offer add an extra layer of exclusivity to the dining experience, too, yet it remains formal without ever feeling over the top or stuffy.
Service is faultless here in terms of both attitude and pairing recommendations, and diners can cap off the night by heading to the lovely lounge bar upstairs – a great spot at which to retire after a lovely meal. While you may not visit here too regularly, you’ll no doubt remember each trip to Botswana Butchery fondly.
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around Queenstown including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main Experiences section to browse and book online!