East Coast and the Volcanic Zone Restaurants

Rotorua has the area's most diverse dining scene. You can order anything from Indian to Japanese fare, or, for true local flavor, try a Māori hāngi (a traditional meal cooked in an earth oven or over a steam vent). Hawke's Bay is another hot spot; its winery restaurants emphasize sophisticated preparations and food-and-wine pairings. Around Eastland, which is so laid-back it's nearly horizontal, the choices are simpler, and you'll be treated with the area's characteristic friendliness. One thing you won't find on any menu is fresh trout. Laws prohibit selling this fish, but if you catch a trout, chefs at most lodging establishments will cook it for you.

Dressing up for dinner, or any other meal, is a rarity, expected at only the most high-end lodges and restaurants.

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  • 1. Brantry Restaurant

    $$$$

    The menu is updated seasonally at this converted 1950s town house on a suburban street not far from the shores of Lake Taupo. Owners Prue...Read More

  • 2. Capers Epicurean

    $$$

    The pleasing scent of spices may entice you into this large, open restaurant, which serves sustaining meals like chicken shiitake linguine (a grilled chicken breast...Read More

  • 3. Pacifica Restaurant

    $$$$

    Enter this weathered blue bungalow to experience the innovative cooking and fresh produce Pacifica brings to the New Zealand dining scene. The five-course degustation menus...Read More

  • 4. Terroir Restaurant

    $$$$

    The massive cedar doors, high circular roof, and open wood fire give this well-regarded restaurant at Craggy Range Winery a rustic character. Although the menu...Read More

  • 5. The Bistro

    $$$$

    This joint aims for simple but nice and has fittingly become an impressive but unpretentious eatery. Large cylindrical lamp shades brighten the modern interior, creating...Read More

  • 6. The Replete Food Company

    $$

    This café draws the crowds for breakfast and lunch thanks to its outside tables and excellent food. In the morning, try the Complete Replete Breakfast:...Read More

  • 7. Eat Streat

    $$$

    If you are not good at making decisions, Eat Streat could drive you crazy. This area at the northern end of Tutanekai Street is covered...Read More

  • 8. Jarks Cityside

    $$$

    On sunny days, you can sit outside on the patio here and enjoy the varied menu. In winter, a large fireplace warms the rustic interior,...Read More

  • 9. Mexi Mama

    $$$

    With its huge wrought-iron chandelier and candlelit shrine to St. Theresa, this cheery Mexican restaurant is a feast for the eyes as well as the...Read More

  • 10. Pig & Whistle

    $$$

    The name of this 1940s landmark winks at its previous incarnation—a police station. Expect pub fare at its absolute best, with seafood chowder, Kentucky bourbon...Read More

  • 11. Rose & Shamrock

    $$$

    This lovely old-world pub in the heart of Havelock North has the largest selection of tap beer in Hawke's Bay. The pints mix with reasonably...Read More

  • 12. The Fat Dog Café and Bar

    $$$

    The eclectic style and fine food here attracts young, old, and everyone in between. The comprehensive menufeatures a mix of old favorites and seasonal additions....Read More

  • 13. The Marina Restaurant & Bar

    $$$$

    Originally the ballroom of a stately home, this high-ceilinged restaurant lives up to its pedigree and brings French flair to Gisborne. Attention to detail from...Read More

  • 14. The Rivers

    $$$

    A casual place to hoist a few pints while dining on hearty pub fare, the Rivers is popular with Gisborne locals. Stained-glass partitions separate the...Read More

  • 15. The Works Café & Winery

    $$$$

    This eatery in the former Gisborne Freezing Works embraces its industrial roots (note the large driveshaft and pulleys on the brick walls). The menu builds...Read More

  • 16. Lewishams

    $$$$

    Green matchboard walls with a classy selection of European prints are illuminated by cartwheel chandeliers under a plum-colored ceiling at this Bavarian-style restaurant featuring international...Read More

  • 17. Milano

    $$$

    Natural wood floors, half-panelled walls, and a solid wood bar create a warm, inviting atmosphere at this Italian restaurant. The large gas imitation-log fire reflects...Read More

  • 18. Zanelli's

    $$$

    The green casements on a terra-cotta wall perfectly highlight the homey interior of this classic Italian restaurant. Study the shots of the Italian countryside after...Read More

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