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 lunch or 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 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 two Wellington hotels. These hotels are:
- James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor
- West Plaza 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 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 buffet for $215 per adult and $107.50 per child (aged 5 – 12). Their Christmas Day dinner buffet costs $165 per adult and $82.50 per child (aged 5 – 12).
Note that this year the price has been split in a separate lunch and dinner price, and that the lunch price includes drinks but that you can eat and drink only for a maximum of two hours.
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 I would like to mention is the West Plaza Hotel in Wellington. They offer a Christmas Day lunch buffet for $120 per adult and $60 per child (under 10).
The Christmas Day menu of the West Plaza Hotel changed a bit compared to last year, but their price did not, although last year the child’s price had not been listed.
This year, the West Plaza’s lunch buffet starts out with kumara and roasted pepper soup with a selection of breads. The previous ear they had green gazpacho, cucumber and mint with a selection of breads and dips as a starter.
Pastrami, roast beef, chorizo, and ham are listed under the continent platter, while whole salmon, prawns, mussels, and calamari are listed under the ocean platter. The cold meats had not been specified as much as they have been this year, but I’m guessing that the selection was not that different.
Traditional Christmas things such as ham and turkey are also on the menu.
Their hot buffet includes roast pumpkin and kumara with sage butter, cauliflower and broccoli gratin, roast potatoes, steamed gourmet potatoes, and green beans and peas with mint butter.
Last year, they had roasted stuffed lamb leg on the menu, but this year they feature roast beef sirloin with red wine jus. The eggplant from last year also disappeared from the menu.
The salad bar has also been changed to include potato and herb salad, green leaf salad with honey mustard dressing, roast vegetable salad with hazelnuts and balsamic dressing, tomato salad, and Ceasar salad. The baby carrots, red quinoa, and baby spinach were removed from the menu.
For dessert, there is traditional kiwi pavlova topped with passionfruit and kiwi fruit, steamed plum pudding and brandy custard, strawberry mousse filled profiteroles with white chocolate topping, fresh strawberry bowls, and assorted ice cream scoops served in an ice sculpture.
As treats, they have homemade rocky road and Christmas shortbread on the menu instead of Christmas mince pies and mini lemon tarts (last year).
All in all, the Christmas Day lunch buffet menu of the West Plaza is not extremely extensive, but they do know how to change things up year after year and seem to keep vegans and vegetarians in mind, although they have not explicitly stated that on their menu.
You can check out their website to see the full Christmas Day Lunch Buffet menu.
Final words on Wellington restaurants open on Christmas
If you take the average of the Christmas Day lunch and dinner prices of the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, one could say that the price was reduced a bit compared to last year, but in reality, this would benefit only those who have dinner at the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor.
While the price for lunch is on the high side, it includes drinks. Note that the consumption of drinks will be controlled, though.
Drinks are not mentioned under the dinner price, except for a glass of bubbly on arrival which you would also get with lunch, and neither that seating is limited to two hours maximum for dinner. That restriction seems to only apply to lunch.
Note that the average price for children would be about the same as what it was last year.
I did not see a surcharge mentioned anywhere, so perhaps this year a public holiday surcharge will be charged by the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor. Note that the West Plaza Hotel did not mention a surcharge either.
This would be something to ask about if or when you make a reservation.
The West Plaza Hotel has changed their Christmas menu every year since I have been updating this article. The James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor does not change their menu, but then again, it is a sample menu.
This year, the West Plaza Hotel has more things listed on their lunch menu that I can eat, so they have become a good affordable option.
However, if having lots of choice in choosing what to eat was high on my list, I would prefer to have dinner at the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor.
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.