Travelling can be daunting, not just in terms of finding your way around a new city but also finding something to eat - especially if you have specific dietary requirements, or are vegetarian or vegan.
Christchurch caters to all tastes and requirements - but of course a bit of local knowledge helps!
If you are looking for delicious and nutritious food without meat (or more) bookmark this blog for your next visit. We’ve compiled a list of the best loved vegetarian offerings in the Garden City with links through to their sites so you can explore these proud providers of vegetarian and vegan goodness.
The Lotus Heart
Any look at vegetarian food in Christchurch has to begin with The Lotus Heart.
The Lotus Heart is one of Christchurch’s best known vegetarian restaurants. Owned and operated by students of Sri Chinmoy, The Lotus Heart focuses on locally grown fresh ingredients, organic where possible. They cater for vegans, offer gluten free and raw food meals, and are child friendly. They also have a shop so you can stock up on goodies to take back to your motel unit or campervan.
Located at 363 Saint Asaph Street, close to the city centre (and in a building that retains the calming, light and airy atmosphere of their former home in Cathedral Square) you’ll discover a diverse menu that will please even the fussiest of carnivores.
The Lotus Heart is open Tuesday through to Sunday from 7.30am - 3pm, with extended hours from 5pm - 9pm on Friday and Saturday.
The Origin, Westminster Street, St Albans (new)
Open seven days a week, this brand new addition to the Christchurch vegetarian dining scene has a crisp, clean feel about it (located in a brand new building on the corner of Cranford and Westminster) and some very special and different offerings.
The influence is definitely Asian, but beverages include a range of 100% organic, NZ grown teas prepared in their "steampunk" tea brewing system and excellent coffee sourced from around the world and micro roasted. The menu includes a range of no onion, no garlic vegetarian dishes, including their signature dish Rose Dumplings, tofu scramble, pancakes, great cabinet food including salads, and much more.
95 Westminster Street, open from 8am - 4.30pm daily. If you have any questions, give them a call on 033555939. They are also on Facebook, right here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/TheOriginNZ/
Portershed, 322 Lincoln Road (NEW!)
The newest addition to the eating options down Lincoln Road is vegan cafe Portershed, which is already attracting plenty of positive reviews from vegans, vegetarians and even carnivores! Open Monday to Saturday from 7am - 5pm (or a little later if people are hanging out), this cafe features a plant based menu and a wall of books to read over your coffee or brunch. The vibe is very retro, with the freshly revived building providing a warm, lived in feel. Lots of baked goodies, coffees made with your choice of coconut, almond or macadamia milks, plus you can take a picnic blanket outside and enjoy your meal in the sunshine. And look out for the sales table with fresh produce and lots of other goodies. Check the Facebook page linked earlier to keep up to date.
Kakano Cafe and Cookery School, CBD
Freshly opened at 100 Peterborough Street opposite the library, Kakano grows organic food onsite and provides a range of fresh-pressed juices, herbal teas and fresh salads daily. Check them out for pics and more information on their Facebook page. Right next door is the Gapfiller Sound Garden, so don't forget to take your children in there exploring too.
Gre3n Superfood and Juice Bar, The Colombo Sydenham
This juice, smoothie and more bar in the centre of The Colombo shopping centre offers Acai bowls, chia pudding bowls, wheatgrass shots, green & superfood smoothies, protein shakes, a range of raw, vegan, gluten, dairy & refined sugar free treats. They have tables if you want to sit down, but all food is takeaway. Check out their Facebook page for pics and more info.
Open Monday to Saturday 8.30am - 5.15pm and Sundays from 9.30am - 5.00pm.
Pot Sticker Dumpling Bar, The Colombo
Just a few steps away from Gre3n Superfood and Juice, is the very popular "hole in the wall" Potsticker Dumpling Bar who now offer vegan and vegetarian fried or steamed dumpling options made with local, MSG free ingredients daily. Takeaway only, but you can sit at the tables in the Colombo and eat if you wish.
Open daily 10.00am - 5.00pm.
Antidote, New Brighton (new)
Another new addition to the range of options for healthy eating in the city is Antidote, located next to BearLion foods in New Brighton's Carnaby Lane. Trek out to the seaside suburb, enjoy a walk on the Pier or on the beach, then refuel from Antidote's selection of fresh juices, superfoods, smoothies and warming vegan and vegetarian meals.
Shop 6 Carnaby Lane, New Brighton,Christchurch, phone Dan on +64 22 4173135. Opening hours Wednesday to Sunday 8.00 am to 4.00 pm.
Not to be outdone, the Dux is a veritable Christchurch institution.
Originally located in the historic Central City Arts Centre and closed post-earthquake, the Dux has split into two new ventures - Dux Live, a music venue in Addington and Dux Dine, focusing on fresh, seasonal food with a vegetarian focus. Technically Pescetarian - fish is served - Dux Dine is renowned for its meat free meals, friendly atmosphere and award winning batch brewed craft beers.
Winner of New or Returning Establishment of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, and People's Choice Award at the Christchurch Hospitality Awards 2014, you know you're going to have a memorable meal and bookings are highly recommended.
Grab a salad, pizza or something from the ocean at Dux Dine, 28 Riccarton Road. There is limited off road parking in front of the premises and a garden to stretch out in between courses if necessary. Rugs are also supplied if you want to sit on the enclosed verandah area in the cooler months.
You’ll be warmly welcomed from 7am Monday to Friday and 9am on Saturday and Sunday.
Tutto Bene, Merivale
Well known for the quality of its Italian cuisine, this popular restaurant is located in the heart of Merivale Village and has recently added a vegan menu to the dining options. Since no Italian meal is complete without cheese, Tutto Bene uses vegan "cheeses" from Angel Food. They also have a great range of wines and you can ask for vegan gelati for dessert.
192 Papanui Road, parking at rear or in Mall carpark across the road. For reservations phone (03) 355 4744.
Welcome Chinese Vegetarian Cafe, Riccarton
Located off Riccarton Road near the Westfield Mall (easily accessible as a major bus route), Welcome offer authentic home cooked vegetarian and vegan Chinese meals. They also offer No Onion, No Garlic meals, do not use MSG, and their prices are exceedingly reasonable.
You can eat in or takeaway and the extensive menu of 40 main meals, and ten or so soups and entrees means you’ll probably have to return time and again to taste everything you want to - and you’ll want to!
Visit Welcome Vegetarian Cafe and Takeaway at 2 Wharenui, Riccarton, Christchurch.
Open Monday - Saturday for Lunch 11.30am - 2.30pm and for Dinner from 5pm - 9pm.
Fo Guang Shan Waterdrop Cafe, Buddhist Temple Riccarton Road
Finally re-opened after the building has completed post-quake repairs, the Waterdrop Cafe provides vegetarian and some vegan meals. While you are, take the opportunity to drop in next door to the Wholefoods shop for your vege supplies.
Open 9.30am - 4.00pm Tuesday to Sunday
The Herb Centre Cafe
As a a clinic and dispensary the Herb Centre is a must visit destination for natural health care.
However they also offer a whole foods cafe that focuses on organic, plant based food with an eye to nutrition and taste (and through hearsay, one lonely carnivorous option is on the menu!). They also offer a range of tempting beverages, from a Green Tea Latte through to a Dendechino - a caffeine free coffee that supports liver function.
With gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options and a raw food approach their menu continually evolves and changes to match the seasons. Located on Kilmore Street, a short walk from the central city and next door to the new Piko shop, visit their Facebook page to see what’s been plated up today.
Open from Monday to Friday 9am - 5.30pm, Saturday 10am - 4pm.
GT Organics Cafe & Grocer
GT Organics is a food store that not only sources and sells quality organic foods sourced from around the globe, but also offers a grocery store (perfect for stocking up on supplies for your trip) and cafe.
Offering breakfast and lunch at the top of Cranford Street (and just across the road from Christchurch TOP 10), GT Organics focus is on organic, pure and nutritionally balanced food - or even a smoothie.
They regularly update their Facebook page with daily treats.
The cafe serves food from 8am - 2.30pm Monday through Friday, 9am - 3pm on weekends.
Pure Cafe Co
Located centrally on busy Bealey Ave where they operate out of a shipping container, and also tucked away in the more industrial Birmingham Drive in a full cafe setting, Pure Cafe Co combine a passion for coffee (Supreme) with a philosophy of clean eating.
Their menu is dominated by paleo and gluten free options, and even the fussiest of vegetarians will probably be salivating after looking at their menu. Locally sourced where possible, always free range, Pure also can cater for food intolerances and allergies with enough notice.
Open for breakfast and lunch, Monday - Friday from 6.30am - 4pm. Saturday 8am - 3pm.
The Shroom Room
The infamous port town of Lyttelton has been known for many things over the journey, and is now home not only to Cuisine Magazine’s New Zealand restaurant of the year, Roots, but also vegetarian oasis The Shroom Room.
Situated centrally on London Street, the vibe is distinctly hip and inviting. The food is vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free with an expected focus on fabulous funghi, and is extensive and encompassing, matched to superb Havana coffee. Even the most ardent of meat eaters will probably be tempted by the breakfast and lunch menus.
If you can, although you may need to wait for a table, visit on a Saturday to experience the delights of the Farmer’s Market where you can purchase even more organic, locally grown produce.
Open at 48 London Street for breakfast and lunch, Monday - Sunday 8am - 4pm.
Edo Japanese Restaurant (formerly Cookai Gold Fusion)
Located at the top end of Papanui Road, just before the lights, Edo Japanese Restaurant offers a range of mostly Asian inspired dishes for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters. The offering includes a lunch time special vegetarian Bento Box for $20.
If you have any special requirements, don't hesitate to ask as the manager is a vegetarian herself and will have plenty of suggestions. Almost everything on the vegetarian menu is also vegan with the exception of Japanese croquettes. The reviews are raves, there is Japanese beer on tap and the service is excellent. Bookings 027 82 888 22.
Open at 493 Papanui Road Monday to Saturday from 5.00pm - 10.00pm
Governor's Bay Hotel
If you are in the mood for a drive, check out the new vegan menu options at the Governor's Bay Hotel. Desserts are beautifully presented and the mains offer a good selection. Group bookings also have additional options. this restaurant has a verandah with views down Lyttelton Harbour and is a cruisy place to relax.
Open seven days a week from 11am till late.
Let’s Go Shopping!
Whilst a couple of the entries above also have shops, don’t forget Vegetarian World which has recently moved and is now at 180D Yaldhurst Road.
Open 8am - 7pm, 7 days a week, Vegetarian World carry the largest selection of Asian vegetarian and vegan products in the South Island. You can grab a locally roasted organic Vivace coffee and takeaway vegan burgers along with other vegan takeaways. The owner has recently added seating, so you can also digest your eats on the premises.
With a Non-GMO and Gluten Free selection, and a wide range of veggie and vegan substitutes, Vegetarian World is a great place to stop by and stock up on essentials that you won’t find in supermarkets.
Piko Wholefoods is one of Christchurch's longest standing shops catering for vegetarians with a wide range of certified organic products, gluten free products and fresh produce. Located back in their rebuilt former home on the corner of Kilmore and Barbadoes Street, the building also has light and airy upstairs space being used for community classes including yoga.
Lyttel Piko over in Lyttleton was founded by the same co-op but is now called the Harbour Co-op and owned by a different group who specialise in local products/produce and Fair Trade goods wherever possible.
Liberty Market is located on the corner of Fitzgerald Avenue and Ferry Road (access and parking only from the Fitz Ave side). Liberty is a full wholefoods supermarket, with a decent selection of fresh organic produce and everything from cereals, snacks, pastas, books and baked goods to evironmentally friendly household cleaners on their shelves.
If you want to add your vegan/glutenfree/vegetarian requirements to a weekly grocery shop, try South City New World in the South City Centre, Colombo Street. The owners stock a good range of products to fit your eating preferences.
If you enjoy Mediterranean food (and who doesn't), check out the Mediterranean Food Company at 322 Tuam Street. They have recently started offering a Vegan Menu in their cafe which includes three types of pasta and nine different types of pizza, cooked in their woodfired pizza oven. Yum! The cafe is open Monday to Saturday from 9am - 4pm, and both the shop and the cafe are closed on Sundays.
Of course there are plenty of restaurants with substantial vegetarian meals on offer, and both the Raw Food and Paleo movements are growing in popularity.
For a wider exploration of vegetarianism, you should start with the New Zealand Vegetarian Society. Apart from a wealth of recipes, they also have an events directory and plenty of information for you to, ahem, digest.
Vegetarians New Zealand maintains a list of vege/ mostly vege restaurants, cafes and takeaways from gluten free fish and chips and pizza through to a range of ethnic offerings from India to Morocco, Burma to Thailand.
There's never been a better time to be vegetarian or vegan in Christchurch and there's always something new popping up to meet the ever-growing demand for paleo, raw and healthy eating. We'll update this blog with any developments - bon appetit!