The Top Food Experiences in Rotorua
Rotorua is famous for being a cultural hub of New Zealand and any foodie knows that a strong way to connect with a culture is through its food. With Maori dinner nights, foodie bush trails and local markets, there are plenty of ways to experience Rotorua through its fare. You can also enjoy the tastes of international-style wines, beers and locally-sourced ingredients through the various restaurants, as well as the winery and craft beer bar. So get ready for a menu of gastronomical offerings in this list of the best foodie experiences in Rotorua.
And for more advice on planning the best foodie trip ever, check out The Food Guide to Rotorua: Places to Eat & Food Tours and the10 Best Accommodations in Rotorua for Foodies.
1. Try a Traditional Maori Hangi
It would almost be a crime to travel all the way to the Maori hub of Rotorua and not try the traditionally-cooked Maori dinner known as a “hāngī “. Food is cooked in an underground oven over many hours to create melt-in-your-mouth textures and an earthy taste. Both Mitai Maori Village (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Tamaki Maori Village (on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) serve hangi buffets in their evening tours, which also include cultural performances and an insight into their traditions and customs.
Alternatively, Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village (on Klook, Viator or Tripadvisor) and Te Puia (on KKday, Klook, Viator and Tripadvisor) cook their meals in the natural geothermal vents of their villages. See more Maori foodie experiences in Rotorua listed in the 10 Best Maori Tours in New Zealand.
Location: Tamaki Maori Village provides transport from 1220 Hinemaru Street. Mitai Maori Village offers pick-ups from accommodations. Whakawerawera Living Maori Village – 17 Tryon Street, approximately 4km (2 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
2. Tour a Blueberry Orchard at Mamaku Blue
Get a behind-the-scenes foodie experience of the local artisans in Rotorua on tours such as the Mamaku Blue Orchard Tour. Tour the blueberry orchard, the sorting and packing shed and the blueberry wine-making department to learn all about their story from bush to market. There’s also a shop and cafe on-site where you can taste some of their creations.
Location: 311 Maraeroa Road, Mamaku, approximately 24km (14 miles) from Rotorua.
3. Do Tastings at the Local Winery or Craft Beer Pub
If you prefer your wines more, well, grapey, then head to the tasting room of Volcanic Hills Winery. Based at the top of the Skyline Gondola, Volcanic Hills Winery provides wines made in Rotorua with grapes from all over New Zealand, available to sip to the commanding views over Lake Rotorua. And if you’re more of a beer sort of person, then don’t miss BREW Craft Beer Pub on Eat Streat, pouring a wide range of local craft beer on tap and bottled.
Location: Volcanic Hills Winery – take the gondola from 178 Fairy Springs Road, approximately 5km (3 miles) from Rotorua city centre. BREW Craft Beer Pub – 1103 Tutanekai Street, Eat Streat, Rotorua city centre.
4. Learn About New Zealand Farming on the Agrodome Farm Tour
Hop on the tractor and get a glimpse into all kinds of farming in New Zealand! While primarily a working sheep farm, Agrodome also has cattle, deer, llamas, alpacas, emus and ostriches where you can learn more about New Zealand diverse farming landscape. After you’ve fed some of the farm animals, there’s the opportunity to feed yourself at the organic fruit orchard with honey, kiwifruit wine or juice tastings. Find out more about Agrodome on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday. See more experiences like this in the 20 Things to Do in Rotorua with Kids.
Location: 141 Western Road, approximately 10km (6 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
5. Mingle with the Locals and Experience the Street Eats at the Markets
There are a couple of excellent weekly opportunities to buy local artisan goodies, fresh produce and fully-prepared meals from food trucks. We simply can’t miss them out on this list of foodie experiences in Rotorua! The Rotorua Farmers’ Market is a must on a Sunday morning (9am-1pm) where you can pick up free range eggs, honey, gelato, artisan bread, organic fruit and vegetables and sample ready-made meals and other goodies. What’s more, the market has a sustainability policy so stallholders only serve food in containers that can be composted or recycled.
Can’t make it to the Sunday market? Head to the Rotorua Night Market on Thursday nights (4.30pm-8.30pm in winter and 5pm-9pm in summer) to try international cuisine and local kai (the Maori word for food). Check out similarly affordable experiences like the markets in the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua.
Location: Rotorua Farmers’ Market – Te Manawa, corner of Hinemoa and Tutanekai Streets, Rotorua city centre. Rotorua Night Market – Tutanekai Street, Rotorua city centre (or the Village Green on the lakefront in high COVID alert levels).
6. Join a Maori Food Workshop at Tamaki Maori Village
Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in on a hands-on foodie experience in Rotorua with Tamaki Maori Village. Their Hui E! Kai E! workshop has you making your own fried bread “puku burger” infused with traditional Maori herbs. As the burgers are cooking on the barbie, you’ll explore old past times with your Maori host. Then, of course, you’ll taste your creation finishing with some kawakawa cold or hot tea.
Location: Tamaki Maori Village provides transport from 1220 Hinemaru Street.
7. Forage for Native Foods in a Wild Food Cooking School
Another superb interactive foodie experience in Rotorua is with Treetops Lodge & Estate. Stay at the luxury lodge and have a choice of two cooking experiences: the Wild Food Cooking School and the Maori Food Trail. Either way, you’ll be foraging for indigenous ingredients to either learn to cook yourself or have professionally prepared by the lodge’s chefs.
Location: 351 Kearoa Road, RD1, Horohoro, approximately 19km (12 miles) from Rotorua city centre.
8. Enjoy a Lake Cruise with Food
Sightseeing while eating? It’s the perfect combo! The Lakeland Queen paddleboat offers cruises on Lake Rotorua every morning and afternoon to explore highlights like Sulfur Bay, Kawaha Point and Mokoia Island while you indulge in a buffet breakfast or lunch. Lunch also comes with a complimentary glass of wine, beer or juice. Learn more about the Lakeland Queen cruise on Klook, KKday, Viator and Tripadvisor.
Alternatively, more gourmet dining can be experienced with Pure Cruise on their luxury yacht sailing Lake Rotoiti. Plus, find out more about the cruise in the 10 Luxury Experiences in Rotorua.
Location: Lakeland Queen – Lakefront Drive, Rotorua city centre. Pure Cruise – Pick-ups available from Rotorua accommodations.
9. Experience Rotorua’s Outstanding Restaurants
Dining in Rotorua is kind of a big deal, especially since there is a whole street dedicated to eating called “Eat Streat“. A top name on such street is Atticus Finch, which specialises in innovative plates designed to be shared. To share Kiwis love Vietnamese food, head to Saigon 60s for their authentic pho noodle soups and egg coffee. For something more “New Zealand”, head to Mokoia Restaurant at the Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort for local fare prepared with indigenous herbs and spices. At The Regent Room in the Regent of Rotorua, try their “Taste Indigenous New Zealand” degustation menu. For more recommendations, head over to The Food Guide to Rotorua: Places to Eat & Food Tours and The Top Cheap Eats in Rotorua.
Location: Atticus Finch – 1106 Tutanekai Street, Eat Street. Saigon 60s – 1205 Fenton Street. Mokoia Restaurant – 77 Robinson Avenue. The Regent – 1057 Arawa Street.
[CLOSED] Join a Maori Master Chef for a Bush Food Tour
Join Charles Royal for a journey into the indigenous cuisine of New Zealand on a Maori food and bush trail. He is famous for introducing native herbs and spices into the mainstream New Zealand diet, with his ingredients and food products found on fine dining menus throughout the country. Through Kinaki Food Tours, he offers a Maori foodie and bush tour experience on the shores of Lake Rotoma.
Location: Meeting points can be organised through Kinaki Food Tours.
More Foodie Experiences in Rotorua
That’s it for the best foodie experiences in Rotorua. For more experiences that don’t necessarily fall under the “foodie” category but are just as wonderful, check out the following guides:
- 20 Best Things to Do in Rotorua
- 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Rotorua
- 10 Best Luxury Experiences in Rotorua
- 12 Most Romantic Things to Do in Rotorua for Couples
- 20 Things to Do in Rotorua with Kids
- 10 Things to Do in Rotorua at Night
We hope you found this list of the best foodie experiences in Rotorua useful. Finally, plan more of your foodie road trip with the North Island Foodie Itinerary: One Week or North Island Foodie Itinerary: Two Weeks.