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. Capers Epicurean

    $$$ | New Zealand

    The pleasing scent of spices may entice you into this large, open restaurant, which serves meals from 7 am to 9 pm daily. If you’re in the mood...Read More

  • 2. Pacifica Restaurant

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Enter this weathered blue bungalow and watch classically trained chef Jeremy Remeka produce delicious dishes. These are worked into a pair of...Read More

  • 3. Terroir Restaurant

    $$$$ | French

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

  • 4. The Bistro

    $$$$ | European

    Jude Messenger, an award-winning young chef, aims for “simple but nice” at his unpretentious, family-owned eatery. Large cylindrical lamp shades...Read More

  • 5. Brantry Restaurant

    $$$ | Contemporary

    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...Read More

  • 6. Caution Dining Lounge

    $$$ | New Zealand

    Massive wood-frame mirrors reflect the candles behind the bar in this northern Napier spot overlooking the boat masts in the basin. Try the...Read More

  • 7. Eat Streat

    $$$ | Eclectic

    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...Read More

  • 8. Eivins Bar & Bistro

    $$$ | New Zealand

    Popular with the ski set in winter and other outdoorsy types in summer, this modern eatery offers panoramic mountain views from its front veranda...Read More

  • 9. Jarks Cityside

    $$$ | Contemporary

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

  • 10. Mexi Mama

    $$$ | Mexican

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

  • 11. Pig & Whistle

    $$$ | New Zealand

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

  • 12. Rose & Shamrock

    $$$ | Irish

    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

  • 13. The Fat Dog Café and Bar

    $$$ | Eclectic

    The eclectic style and fine food here attract young, old, and everyone in between. A line of paw prints trails along the maroon ceiling. Poetry...Read More

  • 14. The Marina Restaurant & Bar

    $$$$ | French

    Originally the ballroom of a stately home, this high-ceilinged restaurant lives up to its pedigree. Light filters through stained glass, and...Read More

  • 15. The Old Church Restaurant & Bar

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    From the high-vaulted ceiling to the overly ornate fittings, this restaurant (a converted church) is a stunner. Sit on red velvet upholstered...Read More

  • 16. The Rivers

    $$$ | Irish

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

  • 17. The Station Cafe, Bar, & Restaurant

    $$$ | New Zealand

    Paintings by local artists adorn the dusky pink and wood-paneled walls of this café-cum-bar, which has the tracks of the north–south railway...Read More

  • 18. The Wharf Café Bar Restaurant

    $$$$ | New Zealand

    Overlooking the Gisborne Wharf, this erstwhile storage shed with seating indoors and out is a scenic spot. Come for a big breakfast, or arrive...Read More

  • 19. The Works Café & Winery

    $$$$ | New Zealand

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

  • 20. Vidal Estate Winery Restaurant

    $$$$ | Contemporary

    Vidal's is acknowledged as one of Hawke's Bay's finest eateries. Appetizers like the gin-infused crab cakes will whet your appetite for the...Read More

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