Night Moves: The Best Things to do in Rotorua in the Evening
When you're out having a good time, the last thing you want to do when the sun sets is call it quits and head back to your hotel room. Fortunately, there's no shortage of activities in Rotorua to keep the fun going well into the night.
So whether you're after an adrenaline rush, a meal or drink worth savouring or simply a quiet way to unwind under the stars, here's our guide for what to do in Rotorua after dark.
Pre-dinner drinks at BREW
1103 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua
Located at one end of Rotorua's Eat Streat is craft beer pub BREW—a haven for anyone looking to sample a local beer or two before dinner. BREW carries the full range from The Croucher Brewing Co, which was founded by Rotorua locals Paul Croucher and Nigel Gregory. In addition to the Croucher line-up, BREW boasts a rotating range of other craft options, so be sure to check out their live tap list for what's available that day. The food menu, of course, has all your elevated pub classics, plus some pretty hearty grilled steaks for those with more of an appetite. If you've found yourself there on more of the "dusk" rather than "after dark" side of things, BREW's hoppy—we mean, "happy"—hour is from 4pm until 6pm.
Sweets & Savouries - Dinner at Rotorua Night Market
1029 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua
Held every Thursday from 5pm to 9pm (weather permitting), the Hokomanga Pō Rotorua Night Market is the place to go to have some stellar street food, do a wee bit of shopping, and even catch a live performance or two in the Rotorua CBD. Tents and food trucks for the market stretch down Tutanekai Street underneath strands of catenary lights, offering everything from loaded burgers, fragrant curries, pan-fried dumplings and sweet, filled bubble waffles. Once you've got your food, snag a spot at the communal tables to eat under the stars. It's a great, family-friendly way to support local businesses and perhaps try something new.
Luxurious dinner at Poco Tapas & Wine
1183 Arawa Street, Rotorua
If you're looking for a special meal to linger over (or to get a smidge dressed-up for), look no further than Poco Tapas & Wine. The tapas-style menu is designed to share, and dishes change seasonally—think global flavours with a Kiwi twist. Pick and choose from the menu or take the thinking out entirely by going with the three-course Chef's Menu and letting the kitchen decide (you can add on a shared dessert if you like). And, of course, as befitting a wine bar, the wine list is exceptional. Ask the staff for recommendations to pair with your meal, or check out the chalkboard propped up behind the bar for details on their wine of the month.
Nightcap at The Cocktail Library
1109 Tutanekai Street
For a drink to wrap up your evening, head to The Cocktail Library in Rotorua's Eat Streat hub. As the name suggests, it specialises in mixology—and desserts. You can choose from their existing menu, which runs the gamut from elevated classics to more elaborate "innovation" cocktails such as the Library Twist made with pink gin, plum liqueur, cranberry, citrus and agave. For the sweet tooths, there are dessert-inspired drinks, and if you've had enough to imbibe for the evening but still wanted to be out, there's a solid selection of mocktails, too. If you don't want to order off the menu, the bar's talented mixologists are open to creating a bespoke drink as well—just ask!
Adrenaline Rush: Get amongst the glow with the Redwoods Nightlights
1 Long Mile Road/Tītokorangi Drive, Whakarewarewa
Step into a magical forest wonderland with the Redwoods Nightlights tree walk experience. Twenty minutes after sunrise, the lights flick on. You ascend 20 metres above the forest floor, then traverse the gently swaying swing bridges between the giant trees to admire the glow of the 34 suspended lanterns scattered throughout the route. They're designed by artist, lighting designer and sustainability advocate David Trubridge. Other colour spots illuminate the ancient trees from all angles, making you feel like you're walking through the stars or in a fairytale forest.
Speed downhill on the Night Luge Rotorua
178 Fairy Springs Road
By day, Skyline Rotorua's gravity-fuelled luge tracks are a unique way to take in the city's sights—by zipping down one of five routes and snaking your way through hairpin turns, spirals and lit-up tunnels. Some offer more scenic routes through the redwood forest or overlooking Lake Rotorua, while others are for the daredevils and speed demons. By night, the tracks transform again. The Night Luge tracks are given the disco treatment with 170 multicolour LED lights illuminating your way as you race your friends (or just your previous time) under the stars. With over seven kilometres of track, you won't be satisfied with just one run.
Chillax: Soak and stargaze at the Polynesian Spa
1000 Hinemoa Street
The Polynesian Spa's geothermal hot pools are open until 11pm, meaning you can fit in a relaxing soak well into the evening. The spa's 28 mineral pools are split into alkaline (sodium-rich for nourishing the skin) and acidic (high sulphate, for relieving aches and muscle pains), so you can pick the bathing package (and view) that fits your preferences. Then simply sit back, relax into the warm waters and enjoy the evening view of Lake Rotorua. The Sky View Private Pools, in particular, are open-roofed, making them perfect for stargazing as you soak.
Twilight Spa at Hell's Gate
351 State Highway 30, Tikitere
Though Hell's Gate usually closes at 6pm, in winter, they offer a special Twilight Spa Experience when it gets dark sooner. Relax and rejuvenate yourself in their world-famous mud and waters overlooking various geothermal springs. Soak in a sulphuric spring, shock your system (in a good way!) in a cold plunge pool, and take home a bit of the experience with a mud face mask and mānuka tea.
All of the Above: Culture and Kai with Te Pō at Te Puia
Hemo Road, Tihiotonga
Te Puia Geothermal Park and New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute offers a guided Te Pō (The Night) experience combining kai (food), a kapahaka cultural performance and a walk through the park's geothermal wonderland featuring active geysers. Your evening's three-hour itinerary opens with a buffet at the Pātaka Kai Restaurant & Bar, then a fiery haka. Finally, experienced guides lead you into the geothermal area, which is illuminated with coloured lights, allowing you to appreciate the different bubbling pools and jets of hot water gushing out of the famous Pōhutu Geyser. It's a multi-sensory experience that's not to be missed.
Photo by: Miles Holden
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