Food Tours 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 things to do in Rotorua for foodies.
And for more advice on planning the best foodie trip ever, check out The Foodie Guide to Rotorua.
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 “hangi”. 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 (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) serve hangi buffets in their evening tours, which also include cultural performances and an insight into their traditions and customs. Alternatively, Whakawerawera Living Maori Village (on Viator or Tripadvisor) cooks their meals in the natural geothermal vents of their village. See more Moari experiences 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. Do the Mamaku Blue Orchard and Winery Tour
Get a behind-the-scenes experience of the local artisans on tours such as the Mamaku Blue Orchard and Winery Tour. Not quite your traditional winery tour, the team here actually creates blueberry wine from berries grown in their very own orchard. Tour the orchard, the sorting and packing shed and the 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. For more details on the experience, check out Mamaku Blue Orchard on Viator and Tripadvisor.
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 Street, 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 Street, 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 and Tripadvisor.
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. 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 zero waster police so stallholders only serve you 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 (5pm-9pm) to try international cuisine and local kai (the Maori word for food).
Location: Rotorua Farmers’ Market – Te Manawa, corner of Hinemoa and Tutanekai Streets, Rotorua city centre. Rotorua Night Market – Tutanekai Street, Rotorua city centre.
6. 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. Alternatively, more gourmet dining can be experienced with Pure Cruise on their luxury yacht sailing Lake Rotoiti. Learn more about the Lakeland Queen cruise on Viator and Tripadvisor. Plus, find out more in the 10 Luxury Activities in Rotorua.
Location: Lakeland Queen – Lakefront Drive, Rotorua city centre. Pure Cruise – Pick-ups available from Rotorua accommodations.
7. 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.
8. 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 Street”. 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 in the Regent of Rotorua, try their “Taste Indigenous New Zealand” degustation menu. For more recommendations, head over to The Foodie Guide to Rotorua.
Location: Atticus Finch – 1106 Tutanekai Street, Eat Street. Saigon 60s – 1205 Fenton Street. Mokoia Restaurant – 77 Robinson Avenue. The Regent – 1057 Arawa Street.