On previous visits to Rotorua, I hadn’t had the most nourishing vegan food experiences. One standout memory is of attempting to order a bagel with just avocado, “because I’m vegan”. My bagel arrived soon afterwards, topped with plain avocado… and bacon!
Being one of New Zealand’s tourist capitals, Rotorua is full of food establishments. I’m sure there are a few where you could negotiate something vegan, but the internet doesn’t seem to know about them (Yelp, for example, says, “Sorry, we don’t seem to have any Vegan in Rotorua.”)
So, here you are, internet. I was in town again last month for work, and was fed several delicious vegan things:
We arrived early for a hui at a marae just north of Rotorua, and found Okere Falls Store by chance when we were looking for a dairy to buy a bottle of water.
To my surprise and delight, the Store sold me not just a bottle of water, but also a bag of smoked paprika Proper Crisps, some Little Bird raw macaroons and crackers, a bottle of fancy iced tea, a little tub of vanilla Nice Cream, a big bowl of roast vegetable salad (topped with toasted seeds, because they had run out of edamame) and an excellent soy flat white.
I didn’t find it on this trip, but the Store also has an outpost in Rotorua itself: The Library Store at the Rotorua Public Library (1127 Haupapa St). The website promises “the same line of products, food, treats and delicious coffee”.
Sam’s Kitchen (1211 Fenton Street) boasts The Best Turkish in Town, which I’m sure is a true claim. Its falafel is some of the best I’ve eaten in New Zealand.
My recommendation: the falafel doner kebab, with extra falafel. It probably has a perfectly sufficient falafel content by default, but it’s worth the additional $2.20 to avoid the regret you’d otherwise feel at not ordering extra. Sam’s lentil soup is also vegan-friendly.
Before we left town, I googled to find coffee recommendations near our hotel, and found a couple of mentions of a new café on Pukuatua Street. Be Rude Not To was my second surprise discovery of the trip: not only does it make an okay cup of Allpress, but it specialises in “allergy friendly” food.
The menu notes whether options are dairy free, gluten free or “allergy free” – food that doesn’t include wheat, gluten, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, fish, sesame or eggs. It’s not hard to sleuth out the vegan options by finding things that sound vegetarian, looking for DF/AF markings, and asking questions of staff who are very aware of the ingredients in each dish.
My vegetarian, DF, AF breakfast was the “encrusted breakfast burger of roast root vegetables, mushroom, capsicum & beans, encrusted with toasted seeds and topped with baby spinach, roast portabello mushroom, charred sweet corn and chimichurri sauce.” It was really good: a nice balance of earthy (root vegetables and portabellos) and fresh (baby spinach and greens).
While their coffee was a little weak for my snobby Auckland tastebuds, I’d definitely recommend this place for food.
Be Rude Not To is open from 7am-5pm every day, at 1153 Pukuatua Street.
Other places you could try:
BurgerFuel has a couple of outlets in Rotorua (at Unit 17, Redwood Centre, 5 Tarawera Road and at Fairy Springs – Cnr Old Quarry & Fairy Springs Roads)