Summer is a fantastic time for alfresco dining, whether grabbing something for a picnic at the newly redeveloped Rotorua lakefront or enjoying a sunny patio with scenic views.
Here’s a brief go-to guide for gooey, gorgeous and gorge-worthy spots.
Start your day rightIf you believe a good breakfast sets you up for a good day, Rotorua has a vast offering of cafés to choose from. Our first-place vote here goes to Third Place Café for their Roasted Kumara Mumble Jumble for breakfast (available until 2.30pm) – and anything sweet from the cabinet.
Grab a seat near the windows or outside on the patio for beautiful views over steamy historic Ōhinemutu village, Lake Rotorua and Mokoia Island. This place is always buzzing, there’s lots of seating, and a play area for the little ones.
Head to Mistress of Cakes for gorgeously gooey options, savoury specialties and a coffee or tea. Tucked away in the suburb of Lynmore, locals from everywhere know the Mistress for her tasty tarts with bacon, caramelised onion and spinach, super-cheesy scones, and massive, award-winning sausage rolls. Grab one of the Mistress’ brownies smashed full of caramel, raspberry and white chocolate, or one of her sell-out cinnamon scrolls (pictured at top) to snack on later, but get in early! Dine on the go or nab a picnic table in the Redwoods Forest nearby – perfect for a walk afterwards.
Munch on lunch hereMulti-award winning Scope Rotorua is known for their motto “wild about flavour”. Their hunting-themed café features cabinet and menu items such as a venison burger, spicy squid salad, sirloin steak sandwich, crispy chicken burger and daily chef’s specials – all roaring with flavour. Not to worry if you’re not a carnivore, there are plenty of dishes for vegetarians too, as well as gluten-free options. To round out your meal, each dish has a wine and beer match suggestion, too, so you can really savour your afternoon break. The interior is cosy and bright, and there are outdoor tables as well.
Eastwood is a great spot for family, friends – and your fur baby – found at the end of Tītokorangi Drive (formerly Longmile Road). Hitch the pup to one of the outside tables with a doggy water bowl, then place your order at the counter. Options include brunch items and bites, to wood-fired, house-made, sourdough-based pizzas (pictured) to die for, and a loaded food cabinet. Must-tries are Funghi pizza and TK fried chicken with Sichuan glaze.
Wine and dine at dinnertime
Pig & Whistle Historic Pub is housed in a gorgeous building that’s part of Rotorua history, being the original police station for our district. It’s been beautifully maintained over the years and offers a variety of characterful spaces for enjoying a huge menu of up-market pub fare. Their famous curly fries are a must. Choose from a great range of craft beer and ciders on tap, and head out to the sunny covered patio where big screen TVs make this a great spot for taking in the weekend sport.
If you’re after a hearty, home-style, meat-and-three-vege feast, head to Pātaka Kai at Te Puia for their amazing hāngī buffet – with the added bonus of overlooking the world-famous Pōhutu Geyser and geothermal valley whether you’re seated inside and on the covered patio. Of course, it wouldn’t be homelike without steamed pudding, and theirs is one of the best around (shhh, don’t tell Nan!).
Eat Streat optionsFound at the lake end of Tutanekai Street, you’ll satisfy any craving at Eat Streat. This bustling dining precinct boasts a dozen or so restaurants and bars all in one spot a city block long. The covered central walkway makes this the perfect all-weather alfresco spot for any meal. In the evenings, live music and the changing colourful lighting makes Eat Streat a unique and vibrant place to enjoy.
Special mention goes to CBK who not only boast a new summer-perfect garden bar but also for bringing back fondue. Their Chocolate Fondue for Two is a fantastically fun option for a Sunday afternoon date!
Rotorua has so many more eateries, many of which can be found here on our website. Days and hours vary, so be sure to check before you go.