12 Hours Rotorua
If you haven’t got long in this beautiful geothermal town, then it pays to plan your visit so you know exactly what hot spots to head to first.
The best things to see, eat and do in Rotorua
From a bakery-style breakfast to a seafood buffet lunch up high, and local beers on tap to end the evening (with some sight-seeing in between of course), Rotorua sure makes it easy to be a very content visitor.
Ciabatta Bakery (Breakfast Bakery styles)
38 White Street, Fenton Park
If sweet baked treats are your weakness, don’t say we didn’t warn you .. a morning visit to Ciabatta Bakery will give you that golden moment where freshly baked (and still warm) doughy goodness is wheeled from the kitchen to the front cabinet. A popular spot for those wanting a brekkie and coffee on the run, expect to see plenty of tradies and early morning professionals stopping in here before work. If it’s a sit in morning for you, grab a filled pretzel, a crispy cronut or a Swiss-inspired streusel and soak up the easy-going vibes of a family run space that combines good food with good company.
Okere Falls Store (Coffee in the garden)
A little oasis for those on the road, pull in at Okere Falls Store and grab a coffee to have in their neat courtyard out the back. Perfect for those with small humans in tow, this cafe has play space aplenty, some brilliant murals, (plus a composting loo!) and plenty of yum things to choose from out of the cabinet too.
New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute
Stop in and be wow-ed by the art and craft making that’s going on at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, where young students come to learn the technical artistic skills of their ancestors (and we can tell you now, they’re very very good at it). Located within Te Pui.
Stratosfare (Seafood Buffet)
178 Fairy Springs Road
If eating up high is your kind of a good time, then go ahead and take the gondola up to Stratosfare restaurant, which boasts 360 degree views of Lake Rotorua and township. A popular place throughout the week, be prepared to share the space with plenty of other like-minded folks, although handy then that the food is served buffet style so you can have three servings of seafood for lunch and not worry about missing out.
Volcanic Hills Winery (Wine Tasting)
176 Fairy Springs Road
Right next door, and a perfect way to digest your big buffet lunch is Volcanic Hills Winery where wine tasting is the name of the game. Grapes are delivered from the best wine growing regions about the country and made into their respective varieties once they make it to Rotorua, so send the young ones off to the luge and sit back in this serene, contemporary space for a few hours. There’s plenty of tasting to be done after all.
Tea & Happiness (vegan snacks)
149 Fairy Springs Road, Koutu
Set in what was once a butchers, and now enjoying its new life serving 100% vegan food and drinks, Tea & Happiness sees plenty of curious customers through the door who are all similarly awed by this vibrant plant-based café on the corner.
Owner/operator Karin Vincent has had plenty of experience living a plant-based lifestyle, and is now more than chuffed to be able to provide colourful, creative meals to those passing through, all without a hint of animal products.
ahu boutique - Adrienne Whitewood (Shopping)
3010/1178 Eruera Street
Nothing says having a good time in a new town than partaking in some good old retail therapy, and for those who also wish to support clever local designers, then ahu boutique is your go-to spot. Dresses, bright funky jewellery, and punchy stockings all carry a unique Māori twist and make ahu pieces very much a one of a kind statement.
Arts Village (Café within the Arts Village)
1240 Hinemaru Street, The Cottage
More coffee needed you say? Head to the Arts Village where you can peruse art from the comfort of the couches whilst sipping your cappuccino. The friendly, colourful spot has supporting the art community very much within its ethos, so relax on the sunny deck in a place that really gets collaboration where coffee needs are taken care of by the savvy barista and local Revolver beans.
1155 Pukuatua Street
More shopping can be done at the stunning Portico Gallery where gifts will be very easy to find for your pals, and even easier to find for yourself. Anything from soaps and ceramics through to sunnies, socks and signature art, if it’s a gift with flair you’re after then make place your go-to spot. Aiming to have at least 90% of the products made by local makers, this photo gallery, framing shop and original gift store is unique through and through.
Brew Bar (beer)
1103 Tutanekai Street
When you’re done with shopping and walking the streets, no doubt you’ll be needing a cold beer in hand. Owned by the folks from Croucher Brewing means there’s the full range of local Croucher beers available at BREW, and sitting back in the open courtyard that looks out onto Eat Streat is a very acceptable way to spend the late afternoon.
Terrace Kitchen (dinner)
1029 Tutanekai Street
Sparkling and sophisticated, with white tiling, natural timbers, plenty of natural light and greenery, Terrace Kitchen has successfully designed a space where the environment is as good as the food. Need to taste it before you believe it? Choose from and easy-to-share menu with things like beef rump, chargrilled chicken and vegan split peas, then why not head upstairs to Tonic bar - where visitors are encouraged to cosy up and feel seduced by the classy interior and delicious drinks on offer.
Basement Cinema (watch a film)
1140 Hinemoa Street
Finish the evening at The Wall and Basement Cinema complex, an unlikely combination, but one that just seems to work.
The two theatres have just 23 and 13 seats in each, meaning curling up here to watch something entertaining or informative is an intimate and relaxing affair, and there’s no jostling to get the best seats in the house. Helping you unwind even more is the select offerings of craft beer and wine that you’re welcome to take in with you. Proud to show movies that aren’t your typical blockbusters make Basement Cinema a go-to spot for locals who would rather watch a indie-style comedy, documentary or simply something not found at the bigger theatres.