Regional Round Ups

We’re keen to update all members on what’s happening in the food scene in other parts of the country. If you’d like to send us something from your region (as you’ll see we don’t have someone everywhere yet) please email us on

The Auckland Food Scene continues to blossom. It really seems like there’s something new opening every week. Recent openings are Fonda – the latest from the talented Sarah Ginella and Nico Mendez (Mexican) with their old place, Barulho, reopening in a new space next door in early February; new branches of two of Auckland’s favourite breweries – Hallertau (now in Clevedon as well) and Brothers Beer (Onehunga). Barbarino’s Spaghetteria is also a new kid on the block  from the team behind Winona Forever, Just Like Martha and Sugar at Chelsea Bay and there are lots of changes afoot at Wynyard Quarter including another branch of Good George, a new Lobster roll joint and a second branch from Latin maestros Besos Latinos. The summer festivals continue to roll with Meatstock, Chinese Lantern and North West Food and Wine this month and Pasifika next month, all meaning a world of good food from diverse origins.

Raglan, Waikato’s summer hotspot saw the usual flurry of new openings in time for the heat and crowds.  Local favourite, Ulo’s opened a permanent space just before Christmas, in the former Wallis Road venue. The Shirai family who herald from Fukushima serve fresh, visually stunning Japanese/Korean food in a friendly laid back manner. Other newcomers in town include George’s Beach Club, IsoBar and West Coast Tacos. The test will be who is there next summer. Hamilton’s most award winning restaurant – Palate – celebrates 15 year this February with a five course dinner that will be one not to be missed. Also not to be missed is Feast Waikato 2020.  In its second year this celebration of the Waikato (April 2-5) promises to be bigger and better.  The programme for the wonderful weekend in the Waikato will be released at a swanky launch at the Hamilton Gardens on the 21st Feb where some of Hamilton’s favourite eateries will be whetting guests appetites; Hayes Common, Mr Pickles and Duck Island to name a few.

The biggest news in Wellington is the new partnership between celebrated Melbourne-based Kiwi chef Hayden McMillan and iconic cafe Floriditas. McMillan, the former owner and head chef of much-vaunted East Brunswick eatery Etta, and his wife, Dominique, are becoming joint owners of Floriditas with founders Julie Clark and her husband James Pedersen. The foursome first got together for a Visa WOAP collab in 2018. “After we left Wellington, Hayden said, ‘I don’t think that’s the last time we’ll work with James and Julie’,” Dominque told “I had the same feeling. Things were ticking along fine in Melbourne, we had no plans to move home, but we just had that gut instinct – and now here we are!” Elsewhere, Winner Winner – which originated in Hamilton and specialises in chicken dinners, plus sides and sweet treats for non-chicken eaters – has opened a new branch on Courtenay Place.

Summer is in full swing with Bread & Circus – World Buskers Festival 2020 currently bringing the central city to life with theatre, music and plenty of food. The new Riverside market continues to thrive, along with the newly opened health and wellbeing destination Welder. The Welder has been developed to provide a unique offering to boutique businesses and Tom Newfield leads the culinary offering with the likes of Two Raw Sisters, Grizzly Baked Goods, Barefoot and Bar Yoku. The Arts Centre also sees the emergence of an excellent wine bar aptly named Cellar Door, positioned in the same location as the pre-earthquake stalwart Annie’s Wine Bar. Finally, the Summertime calendar continues to flourish with popular foodie events. Look out for Night Noodle Market (6-15 February) Whisky Galore’s DramFest 2020 (7-8 March) North Canterbury Wine & Food Festival (8 March) and Grow Ō Tautahi (20-22 March).

The food and wine scene in Queenstown is as exciting as ever, with craft breweries, dinner cruises, local produce markets, and the exciting Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival. The craft beer scene is booming with Beech Tree Craft Beer Bar opening mid-December on Beach Street boasting 22 rotating taps of New Zealand and international craft beer and cider. Queenstown’s first dinner cruise (Southern Discoveries) on Lake Wakatipu also launched in December, including a two-course ‘trust the chef’ menu designed to celebrate the locally-sourced produce. Also book those flights now as Autumn is the perfect time to visit Queenstown to enjoy the food and wine of this region after the tourist crowds have thinned a bit. The Akarua Arrowtown Autumn Festival runs from 16-20 April, and is entering its 36th year in style with all the usual family, arty, and foodie events.

Over the past few months, Dunedin’s café and restaurant scene has flourished with a host of openings. Epic Dog is bringing gourmet New York-style hot dogs to the city. While it’s rooted in American traditional Epic Dog has an international flavour – think Chow Chow with kimchi or Pomchi with pineapple or the Great Dane with avocado. The crew behind Dunedin favourites Vault 21 and Prohibition Smokehouse have done it again – creating another fun environment for great food. Déjà vu Eats opened late in 2019 offering delicious street food bites, many with a seafood zing (don’t miss the Malaysian pancakes, waffle fries, Black sesame tart and Gulab Jamun cardamom honey ice cream). Foodies are talking about the bread from brand spanking new café and bakery Side On. They do everything from Euro-influenced fermented breads to panipopo Samoan coconut buns, as well as dine-in dishes like  fried cauliflower with haloumi and cream cheese on  house made sourdough with a curry vinaigrette. The Good Food Co. in Mornington’s growing suburban shopping precinct is also worth a look for a curated selection of fine foods. All of this produce and innovation and much more will be on show during Dine Dunedin, the city’s celebration of gourmet food and drink. Organised by Food Writers member, Nicola McConnell the second Dine Dunedin will run from Friday 10 – Sunday 26 July.

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