Nestled amidst New Zealand’s awe-inspiring landscapes, the Central North Coast is a region that promises a culinary adventure filled with food and wine experiences. Local eateries and wineries have mastered the art of harnessing the region’s produce, offering foodies experiences to rival some of the world’s best. With sustainability and supporting local producers as their guiding principle, these establishments showcase the very essence of Central North Island’s culinary prowess. From dishes crafted with fresh, farm-sourced ingredients to exceptional wines that capture the terroir, this is a destination that promises to excite your taste buds and captivate all of the senses.
Tucked away upstairs in the central dining precinct of Rotorua, Poco is inspired by the tapas culture of Spain, where the name means “a little”. Offering contemporary tapas and larger plates to share, we use quality, locally-sourced ingredients to create Mediterranean-inspired dishes. It’s food to be shared with friends, and when dining at Poco, we encourage you to relax into this communal way of eating. Trying a little bit of this and a little bit of that, all accompanied by a hand-picked wine list, a great selection of New Zealand craft beers and signature cocktails.
Born in 2009 out of Rotorua’s lack of a local wine culture, Volcanic Hills is the area’s only winery, with a skyline gondola overlooking Lake Rotorua that separates the winery from the tasting room. Volcanic Hills brings its grapes from all over New Zealand to Rotorua, where they are made into the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the winery is famous for.
Bay of Plenty
The self-described ‘modern-hearth cooking’ approach that has been fostered at Solera, a local wine-bar, incorporates local ingredients and a wood-fire, to produce an exciting blend of flavour and atmosphere unlike anything else in the Bay. Solera hosts a range of exclusively New-Zealand sourced and produced wines, with a passion in showcasing the lesser-known varietals and blends.
Born out of vineyard work that dried up following the 2008 global financial crisis, owners of The Cider Factorie, Rowena and Simon Pearce, turned to another fruit to showcase their skills. They began planting heritage apple orchards on a family site in 2011 and are now the producers of more than eight ciders, yearly, as well as one of the few remaining New Zealand producers still using their own locally-sourced and grown fruit.
Built on the ethos of environmental preservation, with most of their menu being sourced locally and sustainably, Bistro Lago boasts an incredible balcony view of Lake Taupō, as well as an intimate indoor open-fire. Their seasonal a la carte menu is a tribute to the lake, land, and ocean of the Central North Island.
A remarkable culinary experience, Embra is partly hidden by trees in a residential street just beyond downtown Taupō. Their menu is a combination of French & British cooking techniques with modern Kiwi cuisine. There is a focus on seasonality, sustainability and engaging local producers where possible. Each glorious dish of this fine dining experience is beautifully-presented with wow-factor presentation.
With prime produce sourced from around the Waikato region—Magills Butchery in Te Awamutu, and Takapoto Estate in Lake Karapiro, among others—Paddock to Plate Waikato is built on a commitment to showcase the Central North Island’s finest cuts. Its focus on community is echoed in their shared plates and paired back dining room, and reinforced by the food’s world-class taste.
With five generations of wine-makers in their family, Vilagrad Winery continues to produce award-winning ports and sherries from their almost 100-year old vines. The culturally rich estate also hosts intimate accommodation and mediterranean-style lunches, with wine tours of the site that give a glimpse into the family’s expert wine-making.