Rotorua: What to eat, where to drink and where to stay

In Rotorua, which has been one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday destinations since the Victorians first arrived to “take the waters” in the 1880s, and to visit the famous Pink and White Terraces (destroyed by the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera).

For a wintery school holiday, where better to head than a town that offers natural warm waters to bathe in at every step.

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Where to eat

If you’re considering tackling the Ōkere Falls on the Kaituna River – the falls offers a white-knuckle white-water-raft drop of 7m for anyone who dares – you’ll want to stop afterwards at the Ōkere Falls Store . The food is fantastic – hearty, wholesome and super tasty. Plus they sell good craft beer and other foodie treats, and host gigs and events. It’s the perfect place to warm up after a freezing dip.

Close to the town centre, Terrace Kitchen is an upmarket cafe that offers a great kids’ menu of croquettes, dumplings, bao buns and gnocchi. The dinner menu changes daily but may include roasted bone marrow, burrata, flat-iron steaks and the local Omania Farm black truffles.

Where to drink

There’s plenty to eat at Brew on Tūtānekai St, but I’ll be visiting for the locally brewed Croucher beer.

Revolver Espresso is Rotorua’s only independent coffee roaster – you’ll find them inside the Mediterranean grocery store Vetro on Amohau St.

And for something a bit different, up at Secret Spot – where locals and tourists go to hire outdoor hot tubs hidden in the forest – you can take a free “shinny dip” (a hot tub for the lower legs) while enjoying coffee or a glass of wine on the deck.

Where to stay

Treetops Lodge is a beautiful hunting lodge-style hotel, hidden in dense bush about half an hour out of town. This luxury experience offers the great outdoors for all ages – families can try archery, horse riding, or tackle the 70km of tracks that cut through the huge estate, and couples can take a private outdoor hot tub at the spa.

At the Black Swan, guests can choose from a view over the large gardens and pool, or of the lake itself. The hotel is a short drive from the city centre (no more than five minutes), but if you don’t want to venture out for dinner, the owners run an excellent restaurant upstairs and, to finish the evening, there’s a whisky room. There are also two outdoor spa pools to use.

Peppers on the Point offers a grand 1930s mansion with beautiful views over the lake. The property is manicured italianate gardens, and the kids will love coming across the sheep, donkeys and chickens that roam the grounds. In the evening, it’s worth sticking around for drinks and canapes before a four-course dinner in the elegant main building. An excellent breakfast offering in the morning is included.

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