9 Of The Best Wanaka Cafes To Try In 2023 (2023)


By Annabel Herbison
11th Apr 2023

From mountains to valleys, ski fields to lakes, Wanaka is a true adventure lovers' destination from the season of sun to the season of snow. Although we must admit, one of our favourite kinds of adventure is the kind that involves hunting out all the best cafes a place has on offer, and ticking them off one by one until we gracefully roll on out of the place.

If you’re like us, Wanaka is a great place to start one of these so-called ‘adventures’. Of course, if you’re a real seasoned adventurer or you’re living in your adventure season, then this list will provide the perfect foodie fuel for you in the form of Wanaka Cafes too. Here are the best cafes that you need to try in Wanaka this year.

Kai Whakapai

Ardmore Street

If you’ve been to Wanaka and haven’t yet frequented Kai Whakapai, you need to get your priorities in order… and get ordering.This iconic Wanaka cafe is open from the crack of dawn until dusk, seven days a week and serves up delicious eats with a side of soul-warming hospitality. This joint’s laidback, casual vibes are reflected through the four food menus—brekky, lunch, evening and sharesies—serving up all kinds of hearty belly-filling food.

Think burgers, famous pizzas, salads and all your brekky staples plus some tasty smoothies and all the morning tipples you would expect. It’s no surprise this is where the cool kids hang, and as it also doubles as a bar, there is an extensive range of local beer on tap. A little birdie told us once a keg runs dry, a new type of beer is added—keeping things interesting and those cool kids well-hydrated. Grab a lakefront table, a crisp local brew and settle in for some prime street-side people-watching.


Ardmore Street

9 Of The Best Wanaka Cafes To Try In 2023 (1)

A cafe, an escape, and a space to enjoy the best bits of life. If you’re a lover of adventure, exploration and the outdoors, Scroggin is the place for you. Designed by local studio, Undercurrent, this Wanaka cafe’s interior is inspired by the humble backcountry hut and aims to bring people together to be present and create memories (while enjoying epic kai) just like out in the wilderness. Like a bag of Scroggin, the creative menu is full of all the things… sweet, savoury and salty.

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Our top picks are the chia pudding with kombucha jelly and coconut, the confit tomato sourdough with smoked ricotta and wakame and the Caprese grilled cheese with pesto, buffalo mozzarella and smoked gouda. You’ll also find coffee, smoothies, homemade kombucha and cold-pressed juices on the drinks list. Or if you’re feeling adventurous why not try the magic mushroom cacao mug with chaga, jing and reishi? It’s sure to lift your mood. Open weekdays from 7am and weekends from 8am, this Wanaka cafegoes hand in hand with the morning as much as a bag of scroggin goes hand in hand with adventure.

Federal Diner

Helwick Street

We’re firm believers that you can judge a cafe by the standard of their cheese scones…enter the ‘Wanaka famous’ and Urban List A+ approved cheesy delights at Federal Diner. Located down an alley off Helwick Street, the cheese scones aren’t the only thing worth finding (and devouring) at this hidden gem of a cafe. If we can tell you one thing, this place is where the locals eat and for good reason.

PB obsessives (like us) will love the housemade banana bread with Fix & Fog chocolate peanut butter and egg lovers will be pleased with the range of eggy options including a tasty smoked trevally and spiced rice dish with a poachy on top. Lap up the goodness at lunch with roti, burgers, tacos and salads, plus fine and dandy daily specials. Laidback vibes seem to be the theme in Wanaka, and Federal Diner is no different with its homely touches, friendly hospitality and spacious sun-drenched outdoor courtyard. Now, hurry along and order that cheese scone before they all sell out.

Kamino - Coffee Shop & Eatery

Helwick Street

Want to know something cool about this little cafe? It has a rooftop bar (insert ridiculous number of exclamation marks!!!). Say hello to all-day wining and dining and goodbye to all your worries when you enter Wanaka’s most chic coffee shop and milk bar, Kamino. It would be rude not to start by highlighting the amazing range of drinks available at this joint—iced coffees, milkshakes, smoothies, juices, beer, wine and a perfect handpicked selection of the hard (but good) stuff.

On the other hand, the brunch menu shakes things up a little with international delights like Bahn mi, poke bowls and poutine, while the cabinet is absolute #GodTier stacked to the brim with sweet goodness (the tiramisu eclair is a MUST), loaded croissants, and can't-go-wrong savoury muffins and scones. If you’re around Thurs through Sat, head on up the stairway… the aforementioned rooftop bar awaits.

Pembroke Pâtisserie

Albert Town

9 Of The Best Wanaka Cafes To Try In 2023 (2)Coffee and pastry, name a more iconic duo. Another Albert Town staple, the award-winning Pembroke Pâtisserie is an absolute must-visit and one of the best cafes in Wanaka—after all, it was voted the best French bakery in the entire country. A big award for a small pâtisserie at the bottom of the south, but we can absolutely see why it came out on top… freshly baked doughnuts, tarts, eclairs, cakes, you name it, they make it to perfection.

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Plus, we’ve been told their flaky, gooey, zesty custard slice is life-changing and you know what, we believe it. To balance out the sweet, try a rich and buttery croissant, pie, savoury or delicious smelling bread. We promise you one thing, you’ll be back for more.


North Lake

Looking after the local community before and after their adventures, AKA keeping the people cool, calm and caffeinated, Hello RANGER is doing a great job of being the local park ‘ranger’. Inside this cafe, you’ll find a light, bright space with an abundance of house plants and showhome-worthy timber-panelled ceilings. Start the day with a hot cup of the good stuff… coffee, tea or matcha and tuck into some kimchi fried rice or a classic smashed avo.

If you plan on hanging around, the outdoor courtyard is absolute bliss and the all-day menu can’t be faulted, with delicious ranger pizzas, sides and plenty of beers from sister-brand b.effect—we’ll have a hazy baby. Plus, canine companions are more than welcome, so if you’re a local with a woofer or a lover of dogs take this as a sign. The evenings bring with them burgers, more pizza (can you ever have enough?), and local meats cooked to perfection—we’ve got one thing to say, get on down to ranger town.

Urban Grind

Ardmore Street

9 Of The Best Wanaka Cafes To Try In 2023 (3)Rise and grind! If you’re after a solid cup of caffeine in the AM, look no further for that perfect Wanaka cafe pour. The busy team of baristas at Urban Grind are slanging espresso left, right and centre from 8am daily—if you’re in a rush there’s even an app to order and get it on the go. Not only does the space give us industrial-cool vibes, but it’s versatile too, with an open-plan dining area, outdoor patio and upstairs bar there’s a perfect perch for every occasion… birthdays, work meetings, a little lunchtime session with mates (if you’re that way inclined).

The food and drinks will take you from hunger to happiness, with waffles and balsamic mushrooms at brunch to traditional thin-crust Italian pizza at lunch. Wash it on down with a smoothie, frappe, cocktail or craft beer and you’ll more likely than not be staying to linger a while.

Big Fig

Ardmore Street

Big Fig’s motto is ‘slow food, served fast’ and honey, we’re here for it. Dishing up a deli-style breakfast from 8am–11am, it’s easy to overindulge in the homely Lebanese-inspired fare. We’re talking Middle Eastern granola with stewed fruit and sweet labneh, the famed shakshuka or sweet treats like tahini chocolate brownie. If you’re looking for a quick, casual lunch or dinner this joint should absolutely not be overlooked.

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With a seasonal offering of slow-cooked meat dishes, plenty of vibrant vegan and vegetarian food and stunning salads, there’s truly something to please every palate. Choose your serving size based on your appetite, and the friendly team will fill your plate with your choice of goodies from the cabinet that day—enjoy your food with friends while dining in, or take it away for a night at home (or maybe to impress someone at a dinner party? We know the drill).


Ardmore Street

A local Wanaka icon, Relishes cafe has been in the game for 30 years and if we know one thing about hospitality, the places that stand the test of time are always worth a visit. This relaxed waterfront location is the perfect place to pull up a perch for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Add a kick to your day with the jalapeño cornbread, a fried egg teamed with feta (whipped real good) and plenty of veggies or the strawberry and banana smoothie bowl with macadamia and cashew nut clusters.

At lunch, there are so many delicious things to choose from, but for something a little different and worth a shout-out for the name alone, the ‘goaty roti’ is a winner. You guessed it, slow-cooked Moroccan spiced goat with smoked yoghurt and cherry dukkah all wrapped up in a crispy roti. Bring your friends and whānau along for dinner and get sharing, with a range of plates made for memory making—there’s plenty to choose from so even your fussy friend will leave satiated. P.s. there’s a salted caramel cinnamon doughnut on the dessert menu, enough said.

Stuffed from lunch but already thinking about dinner? We hear you, here's our pick of the best restaurants in Wanaka.

Image credit: Kai Whakapai,Scroggin,Pembroke Pâtisserie,Urban Grind.

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