I’m going to be revealing where to find the best vegan food in Wellington, New Zealand, including the Top 3 restaurants and my recipe re-creations of the best dishes from our trip.
In January we ended up in Wellington, New Zealand, on one of those ‘spur of the moment’ trips where you fly for 42 hours to the other side of the world on a whim. That is a whole different story that you can read about here, but in the meantime, it is of essential importance that I give you a run down of the vegan foodie delights that we happened upon on our journey. If you are visiting Wellington any time soon, you simply MUST visit these fantastic places.
Wellington itself is a beautiful city. It’s young, bright and modern with a fantastic array of shops; both quirky and mainstream. You can wander down the main street browsing through ranges of peculiar and humorous cards in earthquake damaged shops, the buildings still full of their original charm, on to flicking through rails of the latest surf clothing in ultra-modern new build department stores.
New Zealand is very much like the UK in terms of vegan food availability. The countryside and villages can be more of a challenge but most of the cities and larger towns make it easy for you and Wellington is no exception to this. We were lucky that I have family in New Zealand who had visited Wellington recently and had come back armed with a list of ‘must-try’ restaurants for us, so we didn’t have to search far to find some of the best vegan eats that Wellington had to offer.
After a first morning spent browsing the shops on Cuba Street, our rumbling bellies stopped us at a cafe called Loretta for an early lunch. The restaurant itself was smart with interesting industrial style decor; rustic stone with exposed wood and metal. The menu was great for brunch-come-lunch and although it was limited in vegan options, the waitress was helpful in providing insight into what could be made vegan. I ordered a wood fired pizza with flat mushroom, roast garlic, thyme, parsley and pea tendrils with a lemon and ginger kombucha to drink. The pizza was incredible; the mushrooms were hearty and oozing with roasted garlic, and the houmous on the side acted as the perfect creamy dip. Lunch was a generous size and all washed down with the refreshing New Zealand-made Kombucha.
Dinner on our first evening was top of the recommendation list from my family, an Asian restaurant named ‘Monsoon Poon’ that serves a range of cuisines including Indian, Malaysian, Thai and Indonesian. We were excited to try this popular restaurant, which thankfully we booked in advance because it was full to the brim. As soon as you walk in you know that it is something special, the atmosphere makes you instantly excited to be there and sets the tone for an evening of lively conversations over bowls of steaming, flavoursome food. The decor is exotic and quirky with beautiful artwork and lamps throughout providing a low, golden light.
We sat at the bar to get a drink and peruse the menus whilst we waited for our table. Vegan dishes were clearly marked as such and, whilst the menu wasn’t huge, there were a number to choose from. For starter I chose the Krishna Pakhora which was cauliflower, pumpkin and potato slices in a chickpea batter and served with a mint, coriander and tamarind dipping sauce; the perfect comfort food.
For main course I opted for saffron rice with the Sichuan Clay Pot with seasonal vegetables, fresh chilli and tofu, wok fried in a Chinese hot bean paste for main. Despite growing up with a mother who likes to add chilli to everything and now living with a husband who likes his curry as hot as he can get it, I’m still slightly wimpy when it comes to spice. The clay pot had mounds of colourful fresh vegetables with a nicely spicy sauce, enough to leave you warm inside but not enough to make you gasp and reach for the oat milk! It had crisp, clear flavours that teamed perfectly with the sweet, sticky saffron rice. A beautiful combination in an atmospheric setting; one not to miss! This delicious combination just had to be re-created so click here for for my take on this beautifully spiced dish.
The next morning we decided get breakfast at our local Tank, which was just a few doors down from our hotel. Tank is a chain we were first introduced to at Auckland airport when we were desperate for anything that resembled fresh fruit and vegetables after 48 hours of aeroplane food and chips. The menu is brilliant and the perfect option for a quick grab-and-go breakfast or snack; smoothies, plant based protein shakes, juices and salads (the tahini and cranberry salad is delicious).
We sipped on our smoothies as we strolled down to the harbour in the morning sun. The harbour in Wellington is stunning and an absolute must-see. The water-front is lined with pop-up shops and craft stalls, with plenty of places to sit with a drink to people-watch and absorb the view. The weather whilst we were there was beautiful, sunny and bright; however the wind does make it a tad chilly so make sure you take a jumper; Windy Wellington really does live up to it’s name!
We spent the afternoon exploring the city and took the cable car up to the lookout point, which was well-worth doing. The cable car runs every 10 minutes or so and is reasonably priced at around £4 per adult return. The view of the city from the top is breathtaking.
After a few hours of exploring the city, we were ready for a sit down and opted to have linner (lunch-dinner) at a restaurant called Chow, which came highly recommended by my family and was one of the top rated restaurants in Wellington on Trip Advisor. We sat on the balcony in the sun and sipped on delicious and refreshing cocktails from the brilliantly inventive cocktail menu. There were a wide range of original cocktails such as the fruity ‘Fun Fun Fooey’, peanut butter and blackcurrant ‘Leave You Wonton More’ and even a vegan friendly white chocolate liqueur cocktail called ‘Bonsai Baby’. The ‘Geisha Girls Grog’ was right up my street with gin, strawberry, lime and ginger beer; it was a watermelon pink with fresh, sweet flavours and punchy ginger beer. It was so delicious that it made it into my top two from Wellington and I had (a lot of) fun recreating the easy-peasy recipe for you here.
For our starter at Chow we shared the crispy seven spice tofu, with sea salt, sesame and chilli soy sauce, which was packed with flavour, perfectly cooked and incredibly moreish (not to mention easy to eat with chopsticks so you look like a pro). For the main course I opted for the Jungle Curry with roast vegetables, kaffir lime, coconut cream, fried tofu and coriander. The curry was deliciously creamy with light flavours and punchy spice. Chow was an excellent restaurant – from the service, to the drinks, to the food. I would love to return here one day and hope that you too can enjoy it on your trip to Wellington.
New Zealand will always hold a special place in my heart. I love so much about it; the people are incredibly friendly, it is rich in culture and the diverse landscapes are like nothing else I have experienced on this earth; truly, unquestionably breathtaking. We drove for nine hours each way to Wellington and it felt like no time at all. We stopped more often than we should have to take photos, videos and to just gaze in sheer wonderment at the beauty before us. If you haven’t been lucky enough to visit New Zealand before you should put it at the top of your bucket list, with Wellington as a clearly defined bullet point on your list of ‘cities to visit whilst in NZ’.
Here is a list of my top three vegan eats in Wellington, New Zealand:
- Monsoon Poon – Asian inspired dishes in a beautiful and atmospheric restaurant.
- Chow – Inventive cocktails and delicious Chinese and Japanese dishes from a raved about restaurant.
- Loretta – A fabulous lunch spot with great service and incredible pizzas.
My recipe re-creations:
- Sichuan Tofu Curry and Saffron Rice from Monsoon Poon – made with fresh seasonal vegetables, wok fried tofu and served with sweet saffron rice.
- Geisha Girls Grog from Chow – a fruity, lively and refreshing gin cocktail, perfect for summer sipping in the garden.
- Wild Child Salad with a Maple Tahini Dressing from Tank – everything you could want in a salad; cranberries, coconut, black rice, almonds and red cabbage, topped off with a drizzle of delicious maple tahini dressing. Literal salad heaven.