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FOOD & DRINK

Where to Dine By the Water in Wellington

Warmer weather calls for breakfast, lunch and dinner overlooking the harbour.
By John Son
March 19, 2019
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Where to Dine By the Water in Wellington

Warmer weather calls for breakfast, lunch and dinner overlooking the harbour.
By John Son
March 19, 2019
  shares

Sure, Wellington might only get a handful of warm sunny days a year. But when one of those days does swing around, it's a prime opportunity to head to one of the capital's fantastic waterside eateries and watch the waves glisten as you tuck into your meal. There's simply no better city for it. Here are our picks for the best places to dine by the water in Wellington.

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SEASHORE CABARET

Plonked right on the heart of The Esplanade in Petone, Seashore Cabaret is well worth the drive out to the Hutt. The Cabaret has been unashamedly designed to provide a feast both for your stomach and your eyes. Tall glass doors offer unobstructed views of the harbour, and if you're lucky enough, you might even nab a table outside. Sea views aside, there's plenty gawk at inside too — vintage decor, pinball machines and rugged wooden walls that replicate the seaside. The wait for a table can be infamously long, especially on weekends. But with those gorgeous views to keep you occupied, you certainly won't be complaining.

160 The Esplanade, Petone.

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Maranui Cafe

MARANUI CAFE

Brought to you by the same people behind Seashore Cabaret, Maranui Cafe brings the charm of the Cabaret a bit closer to town. Located above the Maranui Surf Life Saving Club, the cafe offers spectacular views across Lyall Bay. On one of those classic days when Wellington can't be beat, you can even catch a glimpse of the South Island. Watch eager surfers catching waves and families frolicking in the water as you dive into the delectable menu — seaside scrambled tofu, anyone?

7 Lyall Parade, Lyall Bay.

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SPRUCE GOOSE

Set in a beautiful venue in Rongotai, Spruce Goose exudes the sort of laid-back, easy-going vibe that epitomises Wellington. Ignore the drab industrial warehouses out the back and simply focus on the endless stretches of water out the front. As the name suggests, Spruce Goose is steeped in aviation history. The building used to serve as a domestic terminal for Wellington Airport before becoming the home of the Wellington Aero Club for half a century. A visit here today will certainly make you soar. On a fine day, we suggest you grab a giant cushion, park yourself on their lawn, and soak up the rays with your favourite beverage and a pail of their signature chilli fried chicken wings.

30 Cochrane Street, Rongotai.

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CHOCOLATE FISH CAFE

Order a drink at the Chocolate Fish Cafe and you'll crack the meaning behind the name right away — it will come with a little chocolate fish. It's just one of the little touches that make the cafe one of the most endeared eateries in the capital. The Chocolate Fish Cafe is proudly Kiwiana through and through — think barbecues, chargrilled meat and veges, and whitebait and paua fritters served in sliced white bread. Once you've tucked away your meal, you can indulge in a classic cake or ice block. Moreover, the Chocolate Fish Cafe is a fantastically family-friendly venue. There's a spacious area out the front for the kids to safely play in, with bikes, scooters and other diversions to keep them busy. And of course, just skip across the road and you're right on the seaside.

100 Shelly Bay Road, Maupuia.

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DOCKSIDE

Based in one of the historic sheds hugging the Wellington CBD's waterfront, Dockside is a top spot for a fancy dinner by the water. Make sure you get a table right by the water, and you'll be able to hear the waves lap gently against the wharf as you dig into your meal. Dockside has one of the most comprehensive seafood menus in the city, and the dishes are as delicious as they are ornately presented. Don't forget to check out their sumptuous dessert menu too — there is plenty to choose from.

Shed 3, Queens Wharf.

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BEACH BABYLON

Drive along the beautiful Oriental Parade and Beach Babylon is certain to catch your eye, with its hordes of diners embracing both the sun and the cafe's funky 60s vibes. Just across the road from Oriental Bay, Beach Babylon will make you feel farther away from the city centre than you actually are. Kitsch lamp shades dangle from the ceilings, illuminating the curious colour schemes splashed across the interior and the various trinkets on display. Importantly, the food has a well-earned reputation too. You'll find some of the best vegan and vegetarian breakfasts in town here, while lovers of meaty comfort food are well catered to as well.

232 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay.

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COENE'S

Another darling of Oriental Parade, Coene's is perched even closer to the water and boasts the views and vibes that such a location deserves. The large glass panes practically invite the sea into the restaurant, offering some of the best views in the city centre. Take a seat anywhere — inside or outside — and you're pretty much guaranteed a nice spot of blue to accompany your meal. Coene's extensive menu spans brunch and dinner options to grazing plates and sharing boards, giving you everything you need for a chilled out evening by the water.

103 Oriental Parade, Oriental Bay.

Published on March 19, 2019 by John Son

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