Who can register?
Any café can take part. Just make sure you are the café owner, or have permission from the café owner to register on their behalf.

What is the definition of a café in this competition?
A café is any business that primarily serves home-made cabinet food as a staple offering in addition to any menu items and serves tea and coffee. A high proportion of food should be made on the premise. A café can be a licensed premise. A café can be open in the evenings but daytime (breakfast and lunch) service should be a priority.

How do I register?
Simple – just head to our registration page  and fill out the form. We recommend putting some thought into telling us what makes you special, as that’s the thing most likely to catch the eye of our judges!

What can I win?
This year, as well as a chance to take out the top title, we have awesome prizes, national PR coverage for all category winners and the chance to be really famous courtesy of Dish magazine.

Which category should I enter?
Enter the category that suits your café best, our category descriptions are here, if you need any help just contact us and we’ll help point you in the right direction.

What are the key competition dates?
There are a number of dates to keep in mind for the competition, here’s what you need to know:
1st week of August – registration opens
Mid September – registration closes
Mid September -  public voting commences
End October  - public voting closes
November – judges visits commence
December – regional winners and People’s choice regional winners announced
February - Meadow Fresh NZ Café of the Year 2017 supreme winner and national category winners announced

Where are the competition regions?

  • Auckland - Wellsford to Franklin
  • Upper North Island - Northland (North of Wellsford), Waikato, Bay of Plenty,
  • Lower North Island - Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Manawatu-Wanganui
  • Wellington - Wairarapa, Kapiti
  • Christchurch – Canterbury region including Ashburton, Timaru, Rangiora including Kaikoura
  • South Island - Rest of South Island (Marlborough, Tasman, West Coast, Otago, Southland)

Still not sure where your cafe fits in, check out our competition map link to regional map flat page

Who are the judges?

Judging, tasting and deliberating will be conducted by an experienced judging team headed by well-known NZ food judge Kerry Tyack. 

Kerry is an independent writer, commentator and educator in the New Zealand food and drinks industry. He is head judge of many food industry events including the National Restaurant Association Restaurant of the Year, the Cuisine NZ Good Food Guide, Monteith's Wild Food Challenge, Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Award, The New Zealand Sausage Competition and Meadow Fresh NZ Café of the Year. He is an acknowledged expert on food and beverage pairing, a contributor to many publications and an award winning author of books on beer and food.

How does the judging process work?

This year the competition judging process is broken into 3 key phases:

1. Shortlisting and determining finalists
2. Judging regional finalists
3. Judging national finalists

For more about this process click here

How is the competition shortlist decided?

Our expert judging panel (EJP) will read through each entry and rate it based on the strength 'what makes you special' blurb on your entry form. The better the case you give us, the more likely you will be selected as a finalist. The judges will also take into consideration the cafe's ranking in the People's Choice vote as park of the cafe ranking

3-4 cafes per category, per region are selected as our shortlist by the EJP

The list of 3-4 cafes per category, per region are sent to local judges for their feedback and will be asked the following questions:
- Do you know of this cafe?
- Have you visited it?
- Do you have any comments to make on the 'what makes you special' entry of the cafe
- Do you believe they fit the category entered?
- Are there other cafes who you believe have a stronger case?


What is the the Goodman Fielder / Unilever Food Solutions Award for Innovation?

This is a special new award for the most innovative café in New Zealand. The Goodman Fielder / Unilever Food Solutions Award for Innovation. will be presented to a single café that has demonstrated outstanding innovation during the period October 2015 to September 2016 across one or more of the categories below.

Business/commercial innovation

  • Marketing innovation
  • Food / menu development
  • Interior design / construction

Entrants are asked to provide a written explanation of what their innovation is and how it has positively impacted on their businesses.

A shortlist of five (one from each region) will be selected based on the entries. The five finalists will be interviewed by phone to determine the ultimate winner.

Judges for this award will be a single representative from Goodman Fielder, Unilever Food Solutions and Tangible Media.

To enter this award you just need to tick the "I would like to be considered for the The Goodman Fielder / Unilever Food Solutions Award for Innovation" box in your registration form.

What will be in my competition pack?
Once you’ve registered, we’ll mail you out a Meadow Fresh NZ Café of the Year competition pack. This will be filled with various competition signage and paraphernalia including store posters, window stickers, voting cards and a counter card and some top tips on how to do well in the public voting part of the competition.
We recommend you try and have it all up and looking amazing by 19 September (when public voting opens) to give you the best start possible in the voting stakes.

When will I receive my competition pack?
We will be sending out the competition packs throughout August and September. If you have not received your competition pack by 19th September, please contact us and we’ll look into it and get you sorted.

How do my customers vote for my cafe?
Café punters can vote for you in the following ways:
- By text (by sending your unique café code to 3336), note standard text charges apply
- Through the nzcafeoftheyear.co.nz website. Please note voting page will not be available until the voting period is live.
- Through the Meadow Fresh NZ Café of the Year facebook page

How many times can I vote?
Just one vote per voting method (website, facebook or by text) per café, per person.

Who can vote?
Anyone including all general public and staff can vote once for each café.

I’ve run out of voting cards, can I order any more?
Yes of course, just contact us and we’ll organise more to come out to you. Please note there may be a short delay in getting these to you as these are printed on demand and are batched to print once a week.


Back for its fifth year, Meadow Fresh NZ Café of...

Learn more


Frequently asked questions

View our FAQ