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 aren’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. West Plaza Hotel
  3. 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 (lunch and dinner) buffet for $165 per adult and $75 per child (aged 5 – 12).

If you’re not into eating meat, the James Cook Hotel (Whitby’s Restaurant) offers a cold selection of seafood such as green-lipped 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. I did not see chicken as a hot selection on the menu – although it might have been grouped under meats – 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.

I did not see a lot of options, other than salad, nuts, and pasta, listed for vegetarians on the menu. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you may want to contact the hotel to see whether more options are available. You can also check out the full Christmas menu mentioned on their website (www.grandchancellorhotels.com/james-cook-hotel-grand-chancellor/restaurants-bars/whitbys-buffet.htm).

The second 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, roast chicken, roast Angus beef fillet, or a vegetarian option that is available with prior arrangement as a main course; vegetables and potatoes; and a dessert buffet with a selection of brandy snaps, éclairs, caramel profiteroles, chocolate mousse, tropical and seasonal fruit, lemon tartlets, pavlova, Christmas mince pies, and Christmas pudding.

You can visit their website to see the entire Christmas Day menu that they have made available (www.boltonhotel.co.nz/dining).

The third hotel I would like to list is the West Plaza Hotel in Wellington. At $105 per person, they offer the cheapest Christmas Day buffet menu out of the three hotels mentioned in this article.

The Christmas Day menu of the West Plaza Hotel is not very extensive. They start out with breads and have salad and cold meat and fish (smoked salmon and mussels) on the menu.

Hot selections include ham, turkey breast, mushrooms, and vegetables. And for dessert, there is pavlova, Christmas pudding, seasonal fruit, Christmas mince pies, chocolate mousse, and mini citrus tarts.

You can check out their website to see the full Christmas menu (http://www.westplaza.co.nz/Restaurant-and-Bar).

Final words on Wellington restaurants open on Christmas

Compared to last year, the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor increased their price by $10 for adults and $0 for children (but they state that they do not charge a public holiday surcharge), West Plaza Hotel increased their price by $2, and the Bolton Hotel by $0.

If I had to choose between the three hotels mentioned in this article, I would choose the Bolton Hotel to have Christmas Day lunch or dinner, because they have roast chicken on the menu.

However, because the amount of main courses to choose from depends on the amount of people in your group at the Bolton Hotel, if you are into sampling different foods, the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor might offer better value for money through their buffet. In addition, the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor has listed that they can cater to all dietary requirements on request, so they offer more flexibility too.

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.


This article falls under Travel Guide.

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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