Whether you’re on the prowl for a replenishing meal after a long morning of caving, you’ve got your sights set on a cool place to chill out over drinks after a glowworm cruise or you just want to finish the day with a tasty sit-down meal, Waitomo’s restaurant and bar scene has got you covered. Take a look at some of the iconic establishments the area has to offer to all New Zealand travellers who pass through it.
Roselands Waitomo Caves
Restaurant, BBQ, Contemporary, European, $$$
This one’s for the meat lovers who want to relish some stunning vistas while they’re sinking their teeth into some tasty BBQ meals. Roselands Restaurant is a family-owned farmland restaurant that has been feeding the visiting Waitomo crowds since 1982. The venue is surrounded by native trees and an award-winning garden that has become quite a popular place for wedding receptions. Aside from its famous buffet BBQ lunches and dinners, the restaurant is renowned for its freshly made baked goodies and New Zealand dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.
You’ll find this newly-refurbished restaurant just before the Waitomo turn-off on State Highway 3 – it’s a good place to fuel up before setting off for an afternoon of adventures or to sit down for one last meal as you get ready to hit the road. The Waitomo Homestead has something for all group sizes and appetites. Morning visitors will be able to taste a selection of classics like crepes, omelettes and the house take on a full breakfast; while lunch crowds have a choice of an all-you-can buffet or an assortment of meat, fish and vegetarian meals. Larger groups can request a shared farmers’ platter of either slow-cooked brisket or cold meats and cheeses; and high tea sessions are also available for those craving a refined treat.
Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, European, Oceanian, $$$
For 13 years Tomo Bar & Eatery was known as Curlys Bar. The re-brand happened in 2017 but the establishment’s essence is still the same: owned and run by Kiwis, and the ideal place to sample some authentic New Zealand cuisine and a wide range of locally produced wines and beers. Those who are feeling quite famished should try the signature Tomo burger: with stacks of steak, beef patty, bacon and egg it is the largest offering in its burger menu. Otherwise, you could always opt for some classic thoroughfare like fish and chips, roast vegetable salads, a seafood basket or the pasta of the day.
The award-winning Huhu Cafe has been serving up an impressive selection of healthy, freshly made meals since opening its doors in 2007. During the day you’ll be able sink your teeth into plenty of lovely flavours, whether you’re just in the mood for a light helping of potato skins or something more filling like smoked salmon or some sirloin steak. Dinner follows a similar pattern, only your choices or entrees, mains and desserts are much more extensive. Whatever mealtime you’re there for, there’s also a selection of set menus that you could try – a perfect fit for larger parties wanting to share a good meal.
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves Restaurant is located under the canopy of the main Visitor Centre, just downstairs from The Long Black Cafe. It’s a good place for a sit-down meal before you view the stunning glowworms or after you’ve spent your morning crawling the depths of the limestone caverns. The menu is seasonal and quite comprehensive: there are dishes especially crafted for kids, vegetarians and vegans; some of the mains are also suited for gluten-free and halal diners. Along with its wide-ranging dietary scope, various cuisines are accounted for: you could order a burger, some vegetable korma, a bowl of prawn laksa or a margherita pizza depending on your cravings.
This pizzeria-cafe hybrid is run by Kiwi Paka, a local backpacking hostel that resides right at the heart of Waitomo Village. As its name suggests, pizza is the must-try fare for lunch and dinnertime visitors; you could also savour an array of light bites like potato wedges, some tasty cafe-style meals, or a filling selection of burgers. As a bonus, these premises are fully licensed, making this a good go-to for those eager to chill out over a glass of wine or beer before settling down for a casual meal.
Caves Motor Inn is a countryside motel that’s tucked between the towns of Te Kuiti and Otorohanga, both of which are within a 10-minute distance from the Waitomo Caves. Its restaurant and bar is known for attracting the local crowds – people from the nearby townships as well as those just driving through often make a pit stop at this hospitable establishment. Whether you’re staying the night at the motel or are just simply passing through, the restaurant will plate up a tasty selection of buffet meals, light snacks, or set dining menus for larger groups.