Our travels in New Zealand’s South Island took us from Christchurch to Dunedin across to Queenstown and Wanaka and then through Franz Josef to Westport, Motueka and Picton. We were able to find vegan, plant-based meals in both the big cities and the small towns, but there were a few standouts that deserve recognition. In no particular order, here is the best of the South Island. For the best of the North Island, check out this post.
Vudu Cafe and Larder, Queenstown: Vudu is by no means vegan or vegetarian. In fact 90% of the menu has meat or contains dairy or egg, but the few items that are entirely vegan are excellent. Try the Summer Bowl of Goodness for breakfast and the Chickpea Patty and Quinoa Salad for lunch. The warm and welcoming ambiance in both locations will make you want to grab a table by the window and sit for a few hours with a flat white and a good book. Vudu has perfected the art of food presentation. You’ll likely be mesmerized by the beautifully displayed baked goods and prepared savory items in the display case. Every item has a distinct garnish accompaniment so that you know exactly what flavors or herbs complement the main ingredients.
The Summer Bowl of Goodness: brown rice and quinoa coconut rice pudding with stewed nectarines and lime toffee
The Ress Street location
Quinoa, spinach and lemon salad with a chickpea patty, avocado and carrot relish
Sesame honey raw bite
Here are the details for Vudu’s two locations in downtown Queenstown. They’re just a few blocks away from each other.
Address: 23 Beach St, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Hours: Open from 8am, 7 days
Phone:+64 3-442 5357
Address: 16 Rees St, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
Hours: Open from 7:30am, 7 days
Phone: +64 3-441 8370
Circadian Rhythm, Dunedin: Circadian Rhythm is a family-run business offering an array of vegan and vegetarian food. Most items are prepared in advance and displayed in the case, but you can also order à la carte or enjoy the daily Indian buffet. Prices are very reasonable, and while the food is well-seasoned and rich in flavor, you’ll leave feeling light, yet satisfied. You’ll also feel pretty content knowing that you didn’t blow through your food budget on a causal dinner out. Also, don’t let first impressions deter you. The decor might be a bit dated, but the delicious food will make up for the decor as soon as your take your first bite.
Baked phyllo dough stuffed with pumpkin, spinach, olives and corn and served with chutney
The rhubarb, coconut almond cake happens to be vegan and gluten-free
The “Mushroom Dog” is more like an open-faced sandwich overflowing with sautéed mushrooms and carrots
The chickpea pie with roasted seasonal vegetables
Here are the details for Circadian Rhythm:
Address: 72 St Andrew Street, Dunedin 9016, New Zealand
Hours: 9:30am – 9pm, Monday – Saturday
Phone:+64 3-474 9994
T.O.A.D. Hall, Motueka: T.O.A.D. Hall, a cafe and grocery just outside of Motueka’s downtown area, is chock-full of meat, dairy and egg, but its vegetarian and vegan items are very well-executed. Of the many vegan and vegetarian burgers I have tried over the years, T.O.A.D.’s lentil burger is hands-down the best of the best. It’s not too dense, but it also doesn’t fall apart when you take that first bite. The addition of toasted hazelnuts and sunflower seeds adds a richness of flavor as well as a nice crunch, and the whole-wheat seeded bun, fresh cabbage and avocado complement this burger perfectly. If you’re not in the mood for a burger, try the veggie wrap or any of the freshly prepared bean salads in the display case. The curry chickpea salad is particularly tasty.
This cafe has a few simple tenets: to nourish the planet by providing the community with deliciously nutritious affordable food, t0 offer a beautiful natural environment for adults and kids to enjoy, to implement sustainable business practices and to provide employees with meaningful employment and training opportunities. T.O.A.D. certainly talks the talk but this cafe sets a perfect example for how to walk the walk. Make sure to come back on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday for their weekly live music in the garden courtyard. Event info can be found here.
A glimpse into the garden courtyard
Check out those whole hazelnuts in the lentil burger!
T.O.A.D. also has an extensive selection of fresh produce sourced from local farmers
Check out the desserts, salads, sandwiches, quiches and pies in the display case
A closer look…
The avocados cost less at T.O.A.D. compared to the big grocery chain down the street
Here are the details for T.O.A.D Hall:
Address: 502 High St S, Motueka 7120, New Zealand
Hours: 8am – 6pm, 7 days
Phone:+64 3-528 6456