New Zealand’s unparalleled level of geothermal activity is no secret. Stepping off the plane or bus in Rotorua - it suddenly becomes even less of a secret. Visitors are greeted first by the smell...
Traditional Maori cooking more often than not involves the use of a ‘hangi’. In a hangi, meat, vegetables and sometimes pudding are wrapped in leaves (or nowadays foil), and cooked on burning hot stones inside a pit oven that has been dug into the ground. The food is covered with dirt and left to steam for several allows, resulting in a beautiful smoky flavour. Visitors to Rotorua can enjoy a traditional hangi meal at the Tamaki Maori Village, a peaceful historic oasis in the heart of Rotorua city. Visitors are met with a traditional welcoming ceremony before being taken on a journey of discovery, learning about the history and customs of the local Maori culture. The grand finale is the beautiful hangi feast, complemented by performances of traditional song and dance. More contemporary dining opportunities exist in the city centre, with most popular cuisines on offer. For the most options in a small area, head to the northern end of Tutanekai Street. Within the space of about 300 metres is no fewer than eight restaurants, spanning a wide range of cuisines and dining styles. Finish the evening with a drink at the award-winning BREW, a pub situated at the northern end of Tutanekai Street that specialises in craft beers and ciders. There’s also a great selection of pub food on offer here for those needing a quick meal.
The first port of call for Rotorua’s shoppers is the Night Market, held on Tutanekai Street every Thursday evening from 5pm. Everything for sale here is grown or made locally, from tasty treats like cheese, coffee and wine through to paintings, homewares and handmade jewelry. Afterwards, relax with a cold beer at the Pig & Whistle or Hennessy’s Irish Bar. Market shopping continues at the Hot Lakes Craft Market on Hinemaru Street, operating every second Sunday from 10am until 2pm. As the name suggests, the offering here is centred around handmade items, spanning clothing, art, jewelry, soaps, cushions and everything in between. The market is run by the Rotorua Arts Village, which remains open to visitors even on non-market days. A more conventional shopping experience can be had at the Rotorua Central Mall, an indoor shopping complex with all the usual sort of tenants including fashion stores, banks, fast food outlets, hairdressers, supermarkets, jewelers and other specialty stores.