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5 Absolute BEST Restaurants in Te Anau (2024 Foodie Guide!)

5 Absolute BEST Restaurants in Te Anau (2024 Foodie Guide!)

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Looking for the best spot to grab a bite in Te Anau? Lucky for you, I’ve got 5 incredible restaurants lined up in this blog!

With so many incredible trails and activities to do, I always find myself famished after a busy day in Te Anau. But as I’m not here all the time, I want to make my evening meals count.

After discovering that there’s pretty much every cuisine you can imagine here in town, I decided to cherry-pick the best of the best and create its own dedicated blog. That way, you won’t have to spend hours scrolling through Google reviews to find your next place to eat!

I’ve been to each of these 5 restaurants and can personally recommend them – they’re seriously good. I’m sure you will love them too!

5 Amazing Restaurants in Te Anau

1. Ditto

Bailey at Bao Now in Te Anau, New Zealand
So tasty!
Selection at Bao Now, Te Anau
I usually get a variety!
  • Location: Ditto
  • Price range: From $12 NZD for a bao bun
  • Come here for: The bao buns with unique flavors
  • Takes reservations: No

What was once the popular food truck, Bao Now is now a permanent restaurant called Ditto! Whether as a food truck or sit-down place, it is consistently rated as the best place to eat in Te Anau. You can find Ditto right in the heart of the city.

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 filling 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. They cater to all dietary requirements!

In addition to bao buns, they also serve up some interesting combinations like Vietnamese loaded fries, sushi boxes, and dumplings.

Ditto is open Mon-Sat 11:30 am to 8 pm and until 4 pm on Sundays.

2. Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso

A pizza from Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso
Wood-fired pizza is my favorite! Photo credit: Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso

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 $18.50 NZD for a Caprese salad dish to $10 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 pies 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

Lamb at the Redcliff Cafe
The meat here is delicious! Photo credit: Redcliff Cafe
  • Location: Redcliff Cafe
  • 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.” And as interesting of a statement as that is, I must say they do what it well!

From the dinner menu, the Fiordland Wild Venison Osso Bucco is amazing, I also recommend the Rakiura 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 $10 – $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.

They are open from 4 pm until late every day of the week, and dinner is served from 5:30 to 8 pm. The snack menu is available all the time though!

Related Read: Consider yourself a foodie? Find out what my favorite restaurants in Queenstown are, as well as the best restaurants in Wanaka!

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4. The Fat Duck

A burger at The Fat Duck
Doesn’t that look good?! Photo credit: The Fat Duck
  • Location: The Fat Duck
  • 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. 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!). I also love the twice-cooked pork belly, it is to die for! Some lighter meal options include 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 5 pm – 6 pm daily and features tap beer and house wine for a great price! The Fat Duck is open Wednesday to Sunday from 5 pm to 9 pm until late.

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

Bailey enjoys a coffee at Sandfly Cafe, Te Anau
The coffee is amazing!
Two brunch meals at Sandfly Cafe, Te Anau
But the food is the highlight!
  • Location: Sandfly Cafe
  • Price range: $8 – $25 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 a 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:

  • Thai Anau – A great option for Asian food that’s both tasty and fresh.
  • La Toscana Pizzeria – 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

Fun Things to do in Te Anau

Glow worms in a cave in New Zealand
Aren’t they beautiful?
  • 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 this Nature Cruise of Milford Sound. For $215 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 BoatingThis 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!!!

Why I Book Tours on Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! I almost always book all of my tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here

Where to Stay in Te Anau

Our campervan at a holiday park 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 the 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).

Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels – $

For budget travelers, you can’t beat staying at the Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels. It’s perfect for those on a road trip in a campervan or motorhome and has budget rooms available. For those traveling with families, you’ll also be happy to know that there’s an on-site children’s playground, as well as a hot tub where you can relax after a busy day!

A basic non-powered campsite starts at around $61 NZD per night, or you can opt for your own room starting from $103 NZD per night. You can check availability and book here on Booking.com.

Lakefront Backpackers – $

Another fantastic budget choice is Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers, which offers super affordable dorm rooms, private rooms, and even glamping tents! There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the property, as well as a movie room and indoor/outdoor cooking facilities – perfect for rustling up some packed meals to take with you on your adventures.

A bed in a dorm here at Lakefront Backpackers starts at around $42 NZD per night, and I’ve got nothing but praise for their super-friendly staff! You can book your stay here on Booking.com.

Aden Motel – $$

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. It’s just a 2-minute walk from the lake, and all apartments come with a kitchenette or kitchen as standard.

Just a 15-minute walk from the town center, you’re far enough away to enjoy the quiet, while also close enough to the action for whenever you’d like to venture into town. Plus, you really can’t beat the price when it comes to the value you get here! Rooms at the Aden Motel start at around $222 NZD and can be booked here on Booking.com.

Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments – $$$

Last, but certainly not least, Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments offers stunning accommodation right on the shores of Lake Te Anau, just a 10-minute walk from the town center. The property also received an extensive renovation in 2019, with their deluxe studio rooms coming equipped with state-of-the-art amenities – think 55-inch TV screens, electric fires, coffee machines – you name it.

Honestly, the only downside to this hotel is that once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave! Rooms here range anywhere from $275 to $600 NZD, although you can find some great deals if you book your room online in advance.

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

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’s what most budget travelers use 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…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your campervan or motorhome through JUCY or Star RV! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey poses for a photo at Crown Range Road Scenic Lookout
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:

31 BEST Things to do in Wanaka, New Zealand 

12 BEST Hikes in Milford Sound + My Top Tips!

75 EPIC Things to do in Queenstown, NZ