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 also require you to prepay your dinner reservation.

Many non-hotel restaurants do not 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 three 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.

This article makes use of information that was available at the time the article was published/updated. Such information can change without prior notice, so please confirm all prices and details mentioned in this article directly with the hotels in question before making a booking.

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 $196 per adult and $95 per child (aged 5 – 12).

The James Cook Hotel has put out a sample menu, which means that it could be different on Christmas Day. However, they do state that they cater to all dietary requirements on request.

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, shrimps, calamari, fresh oysters, marinated prawn tails, salmon, etc. Whitby’s Restaurant may also offer whitebait fritters.


As a hot selection, you can choose from fish, duck roulade, sausages, 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 and cold selection section.

Roasted potatoes and steamed 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 sample Christmas menu mentioned on their website.

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. The cost is $160 per person and $90 per child under 12.

They will be serving salmon, mussels, prawns, tuna, asparagus, prosciutto and salami, breads, and salads as appetisers.

As a main course, you can choose from one of the following options: crispy pork, whole roast chicken, roast Angus beef (medium rare), or a vegetarian option that is available by prior arrangement. Note that duck was removed from the menu compared to last year.

The main course is served with green beans with almonds, truffled cauliflower cheese, and duck fat roated potatoes.

Their dessert buffet consists of a selection of classic desserts and pastries that include the following: brandy snaps, dark chocolate éclairs, cranberry and marscapone cheesecake, salted caramel profiteroles, chocolate mousse domes with almonds, chocolate torte, plum bavarois, seasonal and tropical fruit, lemon meringue tartlets, fruit pavlova, and Christmas mince pies.

You can visit their website to see the entire Christmas menu that they have made available.


The third hotel I would like to list is the West Plaza Hotel in Wellington. At $120 per person, they offer the cheapest Christmas Day lunch buffet menu out of the three hotels mentioned in this article.

The Christmas Day menu of the West Plaza Hotel did not used to be very extensive, but this year it has been changed a bit compared to last year.

They start out with breads and dips. Note that these are quite different from what they offered the previous year (which included things such as yoghurt and blue cheese dip, lemon hummus and sea salted butter, etc.), so you may want to check out the menu if you do not eat things such as beetroot and mint, caramalised onion and feta, green gazpacho, cucumber and mint.

They also have cold meat and fish on the menu, which includes smoked salmon, a selection of cold meats and pickled vegetables, prawns, shrimps, and mussels. Prawns and shrimps were not on the menu last year, and note that the smoked salmon comes with different things this year, so it might have a different taste.

Traditional Christmas things such as ham and turkey are also on the menu.

Their hot buffet includes roasted stuffed lamb leg, eggplant, roasted root vegetables, steamed greens, and potatoes. They seem to have swapped out the baked mushrooms from last year to include lamb this year, and eggplant is new on the menu.

There is also a salad bar where you can get baby carrots, red quinoa, baby spinach, roasted pumpkin, tomato, green leaf salad, etc. The salad bar is also slightly different compared to the previous year.

For dessert, there is classic pavlova, kiwifruit and cherries, chocolate mud cake, strawberry cream profiteroles, Christmas pudding, seasonal fruit, Christmas mince pies, chocolate dipped strawberries, and mini lemon tarts.

You can check out their website to see the full Christmas Day Lunch Buffet menu.

Final words on Wellington restaurants open on Christmas

Compared to last year, the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor increased their price by $31 for adults and $20 for children (compared to an increase of $10 and $0, respectively, in the previous year, but they state that they do not charge a public holiday surcharge), the West Plaza Hotel increased their price by $15 (compared to an increase of $2 in the previous year), and the Bolton Hotel increased their price by $0 (compared to an increase of $0 in the previous year, but they require a 50% deposit and advance booking).

From the three hotels mentioned above, the West Plaza Hotel changed their Christmas menu the most and increased their price a bit, and the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor changed their menu the least and increased their prices for both adults and children the most but say that their menu is only a sample menu.

The West Plaza Hotel does not specifically list a separate price for children, and they seem to be only open for lunch. The Bolton Hotel introduced a separate price for children although they may have had one last year that I simply overlooked.

In any case, 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 and dark chocolate on the menu. Although the West Plaza Hotel changed their menu, there are a few things on their menu that I cannot eat. The James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor is the most expensive option, but if I could not eat at the Bolton Hotel, I would eat at the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor.

Because the amount of main courses you can choose depends on the amount of people in your group at the Bolton Hotel, if you are into sampling different foods or your party consists of a large amount of people (5 or more), the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor offers a larger selection of food per person and might turn out to offer more value for money even though they are $36 more expensive than the Bolton Hotel, and it is unclear whether the Bolton Hotel will or will not add a public holiday surcharge to your final bill. 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 want to 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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