Te Anau is a gorgeous town that sits on the shores of Lake Te Anau (the second largest lake in New Zealand). It’s very popular with both local and overseas visitors as it is the closest town to Milford Sound. In fact, the road trip from Te Anau to Milford Sound is considered one of the best things to do in New Zealand.
Te Anau is not only blessed with stunningly beautiful scenery but there are lots of great activities in Te Anau from hiking the famed Kepler Track to the family-friendly glow-worm caves.
Of course, there are lots of excellent restaurants in town too! For a small town like Te Anau, you may be surprised to know that there are over 30 restaurants here! There’s every cuisine you can imagine available here in Te Anau from Italian, Vietnamese, Indian, and Thai to the traditional Kiwi pub experience. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants in Te Anau!
In this blog, I list 5 of the very best Te Anau restaurants. These are the places I love and I’m sure that you will too!
5 Amazing Restaurants in Te Anau
1. Bao Now
- Location: 6 Milford Crescent
- Price range: from $12 NZD for a bao bun
- Come here for: the bao buns with unique flavors
- Takes reservations: no
Bao Now is consistently rated as the best place to eat in Te Anau, however, it’s not a restaurant but a food truck! It is permanently located at its spot at 6 Milford Crescent (across the road from New World supermarket), close to many of the best hotels in Te Anau.
Bao Now was opened in 2015 and also offers loads of gluten-free dishes and caters to all dietary requirements.
This place is so popular that they have been known to make a bao a minute on busy days!
Everything is made fresh so you may be waiting for a little but I promise it’s worth it! Plus, they use seasonal ingredients, so, if you’ve visited before and your favorite dish isn’t on the menu, don’t fear, it will make a return when the time is right.
The hero on their menu for me is their famed bao buns which you can get with a filing of buttermilk fried chicken; pork belly, or salt and pepper squid. For the vegans, there’s crispy tofu and even a breakfast bao! P.S. if you’re gluten-free or dairy-free you can swap out the bao bun for either a crepe or a lettuce cup.
In addition to bao buns, they also serve up some interesting combinations like the Vietnamese loaded fries, sushi boxes, and dumplings.
Bao Now is open Mon-Sat 11:00 am-7:30 pm. Because they are a food truck limited seating is available.
2. Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso
- Location: 1 Milford Crescent
- Price range: pizza starts from $20 NZD
- Come here for: the pizza
- Takes reservations: yes
Opened in 2011, this authentic Italian restaurant and pizzeria have been busy serving up wood-fired pizzas to hungry guests. In fact, the main attraction of the restaurant is the genuine Italian wood-fired pizza oven. Nab a table close to the pizza oven and watch the chefs at work. Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso is especially popular with families and advance bookings are recommended especially during the summer.
At Paradiso, starters range from $18 NZD for a Caprese salad dish to $8.50 NZD for garlic bread. They don’t have many mains outside of pizza but the Pork and Venison Lasagna is an interesting take on a classic option!
This is easily the best pizza in Te Anau and perhaps all of Southland. Dairy-free mozzarella, as well as gluten-free bases, are available for all pizzas for a small charge. You can get traditional Italian flavored pizzas like Margherita, Napoli, and Prosciutto but interestingly there are some local New Zealand flavored pizzas available too.
Some of the unique flavors I love include the Venison with wild caramelized onions and parmesan as well as the lamb pizza with potatoes (that’s so New Zealand!)
If you have a sweet tooth you have to try the Tiramisu for dessert!
Paradiso is open from 4 pm – 10 pm daily.
Related Read: Heading to Te Anau from Queenstown? Check out my Queenstown to Te Anau road trip guide with all the best places to stop!
3. Redcliff Cafe
- Location: 12 Mokonui Street
- Price range: $30 – $40 NZD for a main
- Come here for: the live music and local produce
- Takes reservations: yes
Located opposite Lake Te Anau this semi-fine dining has great views, especially at sunset. Set in an early settler’s cottage built back in 1978, the Redcliff Cafe has been a restaurant since 1993. Prior to that, it was once home to a craft shop. The atmosphere is cozy and charming with local memorabilia from Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, Lord of the Rings, and Te Anau.
With New Zealand beef and lamb, the menu offers local produce. Redcliff Cafe prides itself on “simple but tantalizing food with a definite kiwi essence.”
From the dinner menu, the Fiordland Wild Venison Osso Bucco is amazing, I also recommend the Stewart Island Salmon. For vegetarians, there are falafels served with a greek-style salad. If you’re after something lighter the snack menu offers pulled pork tacos, arancini balls, and more. The prices on the snack menu range from $12 – $20 NZD.
There’s live music played in the adjoining bar some evenings so be sure to check out their website for more information on this.
Did you know – The cast and crew from The Lord of the Rings movies were frequent visitors during their time filming in the area.
Dinner is served from 5 – 10 pm Monday to Saturday and on Sunday from 5 – 7 pm with a light snack menu on offer from 3 – 10 pm
4. The Fat Duck
- Location: 124 Town Center
- Price range: $23 – $45 NZD for a main
- Come here for: everything!
- Takes reservations: yes
The Fat Duck is a cozy and inviting restaurant/bar in the town center of Te Anau. This popular restaurant offers a varied and interesting menu with fresh local produce at the center of all their dishes. It’s extremely popular, especially with families and larger groups, so be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment (especially in the summer months).
Keep an eye out for the daily blackboard specials – they are always really tasty and a great deal.
The interior of the restaurant is cozy and gastropub-style, but on a summer evening, I recommend sitting out on the outdoor patio to watch the world go by on the town’s main street. It’s also a prime spot to catch the sunset!
Live entertainment draws a crowd to the bar some evenings of the week, so be sure to check out their Facebook page for up-to-date information. If you want a lighter and more casual dinner then you can opt to dine in the bar area which has tapas-style meals on offer. The Bar Snacks Menu is on offer from 11 am daily. I advise trying the Fat Duck Platter for 4-6 people which has some of their most popular small plates like dumplings, mac & cheese bites, liver pate, bread with dips, and more.
From the dinner menu, the venison dish is highly recommended and of fine-dining standard. Or for a classic, go for one of their burgers (my favorite!) A splurge but worth it is the 55-day-aged sirloin steak served with duck fat potatoes. Some lighter meal options include the lamb salad, seafood chowder, and housemade gnocchi. A number of dishes can be made gluten-free on request and they have a few vegetarian dishes like the dumplings and risotto balls.
Happy Hour is from 4 pm – 6 pm daily that features tap beer and house wine for a great price! The Fat Duck is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm and Friday – Sunday from 11:30 am to 10 pm (they close at 9 on Sunday).
Related Read: Te Anau sits on the doorstep to one of NZ’s best national parks. Be sure to check out all the best things to do in Fiordland National Park!
5. Sandfly Cafe Te Anau
- Location: 9 The Lane
- Price range: $7.50 – $21 NZD
- Come here for: the coffee
- Takes reservations: no
You can’t have a list of the best restaurants in Te Anau and not mention the super-popular Sandfly Cafe. It’s home to superb coffee, a great all-day menu that features mostly breakfast items, as well as a large sunny outdoor seating area. Sandfly is a great place to meet Te Anau locals too.
The all-day menu serves mostly breakfast items like buttermilk pancakes, a big breakfast, and hash brown stack (served with bacon, tomato, eggs, and hollandaise sauce). There are lighter options like the bacon roll too. For vegetarians, there’s a vegetarian breakfast with tomato, spinach, hash browns, and fried eggs, or the vegetarian hash brown stack. For vegans, there’s a vegan breakfast specials menu that rotates.
After a quick bite check out the freshly baked goods at the counter. Their cinnamon rolls are especially delicious!
Sandfly Cafe is open from 7 am – 4:30 pm so, not an option for dinner, unfortunately.
A Few Other Great Restaurants in Te Anau
Just because the restaurants above are my favorite in Te Anau, doesn’t mean they are the only good choices. Some other great restaurants in Te Anau include the following:
- Mainly Seafood – Informal dine-in and take-out joint dishing up grilled and fried fish, plus burgers and breakfast.
- Thai Anau – A great option for Asian food that’s both tasty and fresh.
- La Toscana – A fantastic Italian on Milford Road
- Radhas Indian Restaurant – Excellent curries and a great takeaway menu too
- MacKinnon Room – Located in the Distinction Hotel is this romantic restaurant with fabulous views
Related Read: Heading to Milford Sound? Read our guide about the different tours from Te Anau to Milford Sound that you can choose from!
Fun Things to do in Te Anau
- Glowworms Caves – This guided cave tour allows you to get up close with hundreds of glow worms. It combines both walking through the narrow cave passages to spot these creatures as well as a cruise through the caves in the dark on a small boat. Definitely a must-do while in Te Anau!
- Explore Milford Sound – There are so many cruises you can take from Te Anau to Milford but one of the most popular and affordable is the Nature Cruise of Milford Sound. For $139 NZD you’ll get transport to Milford followed by a 2-hour cruise of Milford Sound, easily one of the most beautiful places in all of New Zealand. Lunch is provided.
- Go Jet Boating – This tour will have you jetting down Waiau River at speeds of up to 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour. Your driver will also perform 180-degree high-speed spins and sharp turns before bringing you across stunning Lake Manapouri, where you will hop off for a guided walk. The whole trip will take 3 hours.
- Hike Kepler Track – One of the 10 Great Walks in New Zealand is the Kepler Track is a 60-kilometer-long (37 miles), 3 to 4-day loop track that follows along the shoreline of both Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri. You may not have the time or interest to do the full-length version so you can opt for a shortened guided Heli-hike tour because it involves being transported around by helicopter. It is expensive but oh, how epic!!!
Where to Stay in Te Anau
Although only a small town, Te Anau boasts lots of amazing places to stay. I almost always stay here when exploring Milford Sound. The reason? Well, I like to take my time on the road from Te Anau to Milford Sound stopping along to way to enjoy hikes and viewpoints. The only way to do this is to stay in Te Anau or Milford Sound itself (which is much more expensive!)
For budget travelers, you can’t beat staying at the Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park & Motels. It’s perfect for those on a road trip in a campervan or motorhome and has budget rooms available. If you’re a social traveler, the Lakefront Backpackers is another good budget option and they have dorm beds and private rooms.
If you can spend a little more I love staying at the Aden Motel. They have studio,1 bedroom, and 2 bedroom apartments that are absolutely beautiful. For the price, it’s the best value place in town. Of course, if you have a larger budget then check out the Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments. They also specialize in apartments but some of their rooms have magnificent views of the lake.
If you’re traveling in a larger group or just want a more local experience consider booking a holiday home in Te Anau. There are lots to choose from all the way from large houses to smaller apartments. The best part is they work out cheaper for the luxuries you get!
Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand
Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!
You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:
- Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
- Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It is what most budget backpackers get for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping! You can easily compare campervans, prices, and book on the website Motorhome Republic. We also have a 5% discount code (QUEEN5) with Mad Campers, which you can use at checkout.
- Motorhome – A motorhome is larger and more comfortable than a campervan. Many motorhomes will comfortably sleep 6 or more people – perfect for a family visiting New Zealand. Motorhomes are the most expensive option, but with one, you won’t ever need to stay in a hotel and you’ll save money that way. Motorhome Republic is my suggested website for booking a motorhome in New Zealand simply because they are a reliable company and the website is super easy to use! We are also partnered with Kiwi Motorhomes, which is well known as the top motorhome rental company in New Zealand. You can get 5% off using the code Queen5. For more detailed info, read my complete guide to renting a motorhome in New Zealand!
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually purchase it as soon as we land in the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
Eating out in Te Anau is an adventure, and with a restaurant for every taste and budget, I’m sure you’ll find yourself dining out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on your next vacation to Te Anau.
For more info about this adorable town, be sure to read my blog about all the best things to do in Te Anau! I also have a ton of informative blogs about the best places to visit on the South Island too! Or choose from one of these below: