15 Best Restaurants in East Coast and the Volcanic Zone, New Zealand

Brantry Restaurant

$$$$ Fodor's choice

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 and Felicity Campbell know what they're doing and use the best local ingredients to make delicious things to satisfy all palates. Wines include those from emerging and boutique vineyards.

45 Rifle Range Rd., Taupo, Waikato, New Zealand
Known For
  • ever-changing innovative menu
  • high-quality ingredients
  • unique wines
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. No lunch Tues.--Thurs., Reservations essential

Capers Epicurean

$$$ Fodor's choice

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 set on pasta tossed in a creamy mushroom sauce, then topped with crispy prosciutto). Half of the space is a delicatessen that sells preserves and specialty foods, such as chutney made from kūmara (a local sweet potato) and a rub made from kawa kawa (a spicy native herb). Afterward, wander to the dessert cabinet and choose from goodies like the chocolate-cherry frangipani tart.

Pacifica Restaurant

$$$$ Fodor's choice

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 with matched wine change daily and reflect the chef's creativity and commitment to using the finest local products.

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Terroir Restaurant

$$$$ Fodor's choice

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 is loosely country French, the "rustic" cuisine here is far from unsophisticated. Start with venison tartare or the twice-baked goat cheese soufflé; then move on to mouthwatering main courses like wood-fired whole fish with fried potatoes and aioli. For a sweet finish, the eclectic dessert menu features a classic vanilla crème brûlée. On warm evenings, you can dine on the terrace with views of Te Mata Peak.

253 Waimarama Rd., Havelock North, Hawke's Bay, 4294, New Zealand
Known For
  • some of the best wine in the region
  • twice-baked goat cheese soufflé
  • gorgeous views from the terrace
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues. Apr.–Oct. No dinner Sun.

The Bistro

$$$$ Fodor's choice
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 a contemporary bistro vibe; the food follows suit, focusing on what’s fresh and seasonal. Try the crackled pork belly with kūmara (sweet potato) and pickled red cabbage or the sweet corn cakes with roasted red-pepper sauce, either of which can be topped off with a selection of house-made sweets.

The Replete Food Company

$$ Fodor's choice

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: honey-cured bacon, tomato relish, poached eggs, roasted field mushrooms, and grilled focaccia. The Vietnamese pork clay pot and prawn linguine are especially popular at midday. Tasty salads, including Thai beef with coconut-lime dressing or Asian chicken with crispy noodles, are top picks, too.

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 with a retractable roof and has 15-odd restaurants and bars that tempt tourists and locals with a variety of cuisines. The place is certainly buzzing at night.
Tutanekai St., Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Known For
  • <PRO>eclectic variety of dishes</PRO>
  • <PRO>good value</PRO>
  • <PRO>buzzy ambience</PRO>

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, and candles on the tables enhance the scene. Either way, the service is efficient and friendly. One good choice from the menu is lamb shank on saffron mash with seasonal vegetables and red wine jus; you can cap your meal by ordering the cheesecake of the day.  It is very popular with locals, so booking ahead is always recommended.

118 Maraekakoho Rd., Hastings, Hawke's Bay, 4120, New Zealand
Known For
  • seasonal produce
  • cheesecake of the day
  • friendly local vibe
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.

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 stomach. The menu includes many shared plates—the spicy pork tostaditas and tortitas de pollo are both recommended. You'll need a cold cerveza (beer) to cool you down.
58 West Quay, Napier, Hawke's Bay, 4110, New Zealand
Known For
  • <PRO>easygoing atmosphere</PRO>
  • <PRO>delicious selection of tapas</PRO>
  • <PRO>margaritas with unique flavors</PRO>
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: No lunch

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 pork belly, New Zealand lamb salad, and their famous pigtail fries. In summer, finish off your meal with a snooze under the enormous elm tree outside. Large, high-definition TVs in the garden bar make this the perfect place to watch the big game. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, you can catch live music, too.

1182 Tutanekai St., Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, 3010, New Zealand
Known For
  • <PRO>great range of beer</PRO>
  • <PRO>live music on weekend and Thursday nights</PRO>
  • <PRO>elevated pub atmosphere</PRO>
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted

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 priced pub fare, including Scotch fillet, Irish sausages, and hearty beef-and-Guinness pie. If you like a good pub quiz, then the brain-testing competition it hosts the first Tuesday of each month may be just the ticket with entry fee money going to local charities.

Napier Rd. and Porter Dr., Havelock North, Hawke's Bay, 4130, New Zealand
Known For
  • friendly atmosphere
  • good standard pub food
  • fun trivia night
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Christmas Day

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. On the psychedelic blackboard menu look for beef fillet served on a warm, roasted vegetable salad with red onion marmalade. For dessert, try the caramelized banana waffle with vanilla ice cream. If you are traveling with children, there is a kid's menu, too.

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 start to finish is the hallmark here. On the menu, look for the steamed fresh fish fillet with crushed new potatoes and bell-pepper confit. The dark chocolate mousse cake with praline crunch and cocoa sorbet is a divine dessert choice.

Vogel St., Gisborne, Gisborne, 4010, New Zealand
Known For
  • <PRO>modern French fine dining</PRO>
  • <PRO>local ingredients</PRO>
  • <PRO>deck seating with beautiful views</PRO>
Restaurants Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch Tues. and Wed., Credit cards accepted

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 dining alcoves, which have brass chandeliers, dark woodwork, and green leather upholstery. Guinness pie with creamy mashed potatoes and chicken calypso topped with a tangy mango sauce are two favorite dishes that are always on the menu. Also on offer are platters and seasonal specials.

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 on local products and seasonality, from cheeses to fruit, scallops to calamari. The sticky pork ribs served with a rich barbecue sauce, potato wedges, and coleslaw is one popular choice; the panfried fish of the day in white wine sauce is another.