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cafe of the year

78 cafés vie for title of New Zealand’s best

The time gap between becoming a finalist and picking up the gong in any competition can be fraught with nervousness for those in contention.

So spare a thought for the 78 finalists in the NZ Café of the Year 2016 who have a tense month as they wait to find out how successful they have been.

The NZ Café of the Year 2016 finalists have been announced today as have the regional People’s Choice café winners with the ultimate accolade announced on 7 December.

It’s the fourth year of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand sanctioned competition which this year selects finalists from six regions to go head to head for the title of best café in the nation.

One winner is selected in each of four categories – Best Metro/CBD, Best Suburban, Best Rural and Classic Kiwi – from which the supreme winner of NZ Café of the Year for 2016 is chosen. The People’s Choice winner is determined through the public vote.

As well as the glory, the supreme Café of the Year also takes away a $40,000 editorial package in Dish Magazine, a ‘Great Cafés of Melbourne Tour’ valued at $10,000 and use of Renault Kangoo for a year.

The finalist cafés in each region and the six regional People’s Choice winners listed below will all feature in a Top Cafés of New Zealand microsite. The site will serve as a guide to top cafés across the country.

The winner of the Supreme Award, overall People’s Choice Award as well as the regional winners are announced on 7 December.

The judges are from The Restaurant Association of New Zealand (head judge Kerry Tyack) and event supporters are Wattie’s, Meadow Fresh, Renault and Dish Magazine.

Mystery shopper judging is underway and cafés are adjudicated on a range of factors including atmosphere and appearance, menu, meal and coffee, service and staff interaction and overall impression.

Convenor of assessors, Kerry Tyack says the journey has been intense but enjoyable.

“There have been vast differences in the style and product offering between chic urban cafés and the warm and welcome atmosphere of rural mum and dad operations.

“Assessors have had world standard coffee and the most comforting of home-made tea and scones. We have come across the predictably professional and the surprisingly scrumptious. Every entrant has brought something unique to the table. Choosing between them is turning out to be more difficult than we ever imagined,” Mr Tyack says.

This year more than 700 cafés entered to try and take the title from last year’s supreme winner, Ironic Café in Dunedin. Full info can be found on the 2016 NZ Café of the Year website –

People’s Choice winners for each region (determined by the public with 40,823 votes cast by café lovers)

Auckland                        Nick’s Café – Waiuku

Upper North Island          Piccolo Licensed Café, Taupo

Lower North Island          Café Jacko, Palmerston North

Wellington                      Sweet Vanilla Kitchen, Lower Hutt, Wellington (regional finalist 2014)

Christchurch                    Pukeko Junction Café & Deli, Leithfield, North Canterbury

South Island                   Jester House, Tasman, Nelson (Supreme Café of the Year Award Winner 2013)


NZ Café of the Year 2016 Finalists


Best Metro / CBD

Foxtrot Parlour, Ponsonby, Auckland

Scratch Bakers Headquarters, CBD Auckland

Wellesley St Kitchen, CBD Auckland

Best Suburban

Corellis, Devonport, Auckland

La Fourchette, St Heliers, Auckland

Luscious Café, Onehunga, Auckland

Classic Kiwi

Aroma Shed Café, Pakuranga, Auckland

Carriages Café, Kumeu, Auckland

VOLT Espresso, Newmarket, Auckland


Best Rural

Frenchot, Waiheke Island, Auckland

Red Shed Palazzo, Karaka, Auckland

The Jetty Licensed Café, Helensville, Auckland

Upper North Island

Best Metro/CBD

Abracadabra Café and Bar, Rotorua

Elizabeth Café and Larder, Tauranga

Victoria’s Café Kitchen Bar, Taupo

Best Suburban

Central Deli, Mt Maunganui

LOLA Breakfast Bar & Licensed Café, Dinsdale, Hamilton

Violets Coffee @ Pit Lane, Frankton, Hamilton

Classic Kiwi

Baxters Café, Whakatane

Food For Thought, Thames

Sweet Painted Lady Café, Matamata


Best Rural

Colenso Country Café, Coromandel

L’Epicirie, Whakatane

The Refinery, Paeroa

Lower North Island

 Best Metro/CBD

Element, Whanganui (regional winner in 2014)

Little Black Bird Eatery, Hastings

Maina, Hastings

 Best Suburban

Aurum Coffee Roasters & Café, Parkvale, Hastings

Gusto Restaurant and Café, Moturoa, New Plymouth

Classic Kiwi

Aromas Coffee Lounge, New Plymouth

KR’s Café & Catering Ltd, Feilding

Mothered Goose, Bulls

Best Rural

Café 39 South, Owhango

Essence Café, Feilding

Kristy’s Café, Whanganui

Source, Taradale, Napier



Best Metro/CBD

Prefab, Wellington CBD

The Flight Coffee Hangar, Te Aro, Wellington

Victoria St Café, Wellington CBD


Best Suburban

Benedicts Café, Lower Hutt, Wellington

Café Polo, Miramar, Wellington

Franco’s Trattoria, Seatoun, Wellington

Classic Kiwi

HOME Café, Thorndon, Wellington

Mount Cook Café, Mount Cook, Wellington

Tiki Lounge Café, Lower Hutt, Wellington


Best Rural

Saddleback Café, Ohariu, Wellington

The Clareville Baker and Café, Carterton

The Village Grinder, Masterton


Best Metro/CBD

Café Kudos, Middleton, Christchurch

Café Metro Merivale, Christchurch

Columbus Coffee Riccarton, Christchurch

Best Suburban

Red Post Café, Culverdon, Christchurch

Thyme Café, Prebbleton, Christchurch

White House Black, Hallswell, Christchurch

Classic Kiwi

Little River Café, Little River, Christchurch

Meshino Espresso, Christchurch

Mocca, Timaru


Best Rural

Arabica Licensed Café, Ashburton

Legends Café, Pleasant Point

Waipara Springs Winery & Café, Waipara


South Island

Best Metro/CBD

Kiki Beware, Refreshment Room, Dunedin

Nova Dunedin, Dunedin

Vudu Café & Larder, Queenstown

Best Suburban

Graze, Lake Hayes, Queenstown

The Bespoke Kitchen, Queenstown

Vanilla Bean Café, Richmond, Nelson

Classic Kiwi

Chantilly Café, Blenheim

Maggies Kitchen, Greymouth

Vogel Street Kitchen, Dunedin

Best Rural

Kai Whakapai Café/Bar, Wanaka

Melrose House Café, Nelson

Penguin Café/Bar, Takaka


About Café Of The Year

NZ Café of the Year was launched by Image Centre Group (ICG) in 2012. More than 400 entries were received nationwide in the first year, 660 in 2013 and more than 1,000 in 2014. Regions are Upper North Island, Auckland, Lower North Island, Wellington, Christchurch and the South Island.

About The Restaurant Association of New Zealand

The Restaurant Association of New Zealand has hundreds of members covering the length and breadth of the country, representing every facet of the restaurant and hospitality industry.

The industry employs more than 100,000 people at nearly 15,174 restaurants and food outlets and generates sales in excess of $8 billion. Restaurant Association offers its members business tools, support and advice for growing their businesses and breaking new ground in the fast growing hospitality arena.

About Image Centre Group (ICG)

Auckland-based ICG is a diversified communications business with interests in printing, retail advertising, digital communications, video production and publishing.  Founded in 1989 as a pre-press provider, ICG now employs more than 200 New Zealanders across eight brands with one vision – to satisfy the brand or communications strategies of all its customers.  Full info at

Issued for NZ Café of the Year by Pead PR

Victoria Ellis, Pead PR, Tel: 0-9-918 2378, Mob: 022 657 7499 email: [email protected]

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