Wellington restaurants open on Christmas plus sample menus

A list of Wellington restaurants that are open on Christmas Day, food items on their lunch and dinner menus, and the cost of eating out on Christmas.

If you’re looking to visit Wellington during Christmas time and are uncertain as to whether restaurants are or aren’t open on Christmas Day, I can tell you that many, if not almost all, non-hotel restaurants are closed.


Christmas in Wellington is a very quiet day and in keeping with Christmas tradition in most countries, except for tourist centers, most facilities and attractions are closed.

A few of the larger hotels in Wellington are open for Christmas dinner. You don’t have to be staying at a hotel to be able to eat in its restaurant. However, it is a good idea to consider booking well in advance to secure a seat for Christmas. Some hotels and restaurants require you to prepay your dinner reservation.

Many non-hotel restaurants won’t be open due to the high cost of staffing on a New Zealand public holiday.

Christmas Day restaurants of hotels open for lunch or dinner

In this article, I would like to highlight a few food items that are listed on the Christmas Day menus of four Wellington hotels. These hotels are:

  1. James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor
  2. Copthorne Hotel
  3. West Plaza Hotel
  4. Bolton Hotel

I’m not affiliated with any of these Wellington hotels, neither do I get paid for listing this information. The sole purpose of this article is to help you decide which Wellington hotel restaurant you may want to make a reservation with to have Christmas lunch or dinner.

Christmas lunch or dinner reservations at Wellington hotel restaurants are essential. Do not wait until the day before Christmas to make a dinner or lunch reservation. Make sure you contact any hotel and book at least three weeks in advance, because seats fill up quickly for Christmas.

The first Wellington hotel I would like to list is the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor Wellington. Its restaurant, Whitby’s Restaurant, has a Christmas Day buffet for $155 per adult and $75 per child.

If you’re not into eating meat, the James Cook Hotel (Whitby’s Restaurant) offers a cold selection of fresh seafood such as mussels, scallops, shrimp, calamari, fresh oysters, marinated prawn tails, salmon, etc. Whitby’s Restaurant also offers whitebait fritters.


As a hot selection, you can choose from fish, duck roulade, meats (grilled, roasted, or braised), and beef stew. Pasta is available as a vegetarian option. I did not see chicken as a hot selection on the menu, but it was listed under the salads section.

Roasted potatoes and vegetables can be found on any menu these days. Rice is rare, but the James Cook Hotel offers steamed rice along with beef stew.

If you are into a more traditional Christmas menu, roasted turkey and honey glazed ham are also present on the menu.

Desserts include pudding, mini pavlovas, Christmas mince pies, fresh fruit salad as a healthier option, ice cream, sorbet, chocolate fondue with marshmallows, etc.

And to finish things off, there are cheeses with roasted nuts, salted crackers, and dried fruit available, not to forget freshly brewed coffee and tea.

One80 Restaurant of the Copthorne Hotel in Wellington will also be open on Christmas Day for lunch and dinner. The price of lunch is $139 per person, $90 for senior citizens, and $69.50 for children 5 and over. The cost of dinner is $110 per person, $75 for senior citizens, and $55 for children under 12.

Both lunch and dinner come as a buffet. Lunch includes breads, soups, salads and appetizers, meats, and desserts. There is ham and beef on the menu as well as turkey and lamb.

While kumara, potatoes, and tortellini are on the menu, I did not see any rice. Chicken and seafood (smoked salmon, oysters, prawns, mussels) are only available in cold salads and appetizers. The dessert buffet includes pavlova, Christmas mince pies, chocolate mousse, a chocolate fountain with marshmallows and strawberries, fruit, cheeses, crackers, etc. They finish off with tea and coffee.

The dinner buffet menu is more or less like the lunch buffet menu with some items removed from the menu or replaced by slightly different dishes. The differences are mostly in the soups, cold salads, and appetizers served. Unfortunately, there is no chicken on the dinner buffet menu.

The third hotel I would like to list is the West Plaza Hotel in Wellington. At $103 per person, they offer the cheapest Christmas Day buffet menu out of the four hotels mentioned in this article and are the only ones that mark menu items as vegan, gluten free, or dairy free.

The Christmas menu of the West Plaza Hotel is not extensive but does not look shabby either. They start out with breads and have soup, salads, and cold meat and fish (smoked salmon and prawns) on the menu.

Hot selections include ham, turkey breast, mushrooms, vegetables, and potatoes. And for dessert, there is pavlova, pudding, fruit, and mince pies.

The last hotel restaurant I would like to mention is the restaurant of the Bolton Hotel in Wellington. It will also be open on Christmas Day for lunch and dinner. The cost is $160 per person.

They will be serving mainly seafood, asparagus, cured meats, breads, and salads as appetisers; crispy pork, duck, Angus beef, or a vegetarian option that is available on request as a main course; vegetables and potatoes; and a dessert buffet with a selection of éclairs, chocolate mousse, tropical and seasonal fruit, tartlets, pavlova, and mince pies.

Final words on Wellington restaurants open on Christmas

If I had to choose between the four hotels mentioned in this article, I would choose either the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor or the Bolton Hotel to have Christmas Day lunch or dinner. They are the most expensive ones, but the items they listed on their menus appealed the most to me.

Copthorne Hotel offers a good variety of items on their menu, so I would go there if the other two were fully booked.

There were more Wellington hotel restaurants that have served lunch and/or dinner on Christmas Day in the past, but they have not yet announced whether they would be open on Christmas Day or updated their menus and prices.

You can always contact any Wellington hotel by email or phone to ask whether their restaurant will be open on Christmas Day and to ask to see their menu and price list. They’ll be more than happy to share this information with you.

I hope that this article has given you an idea of the value for money you receive if you have lunch or dinner at a Wellington restaurant on Christmas Day.


Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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