Rotorua has a number of weekly markets to enjoy while you’re in the city, so make sure to leave yourself time to stop by at least one while you’re here. Below is some information about the regular markets (as well as some specials ones that happen throughout the year) to help you decide which ones to put on your schedule.
Thursday Night Market
It’s called a night market, but given that it ends a half hour after sundown I don’t think it really counts. But it is a very nice evening market all the same. It doubles in size over the summer season, so definitely leave your Thursday evening in Rotorua open if you’ll be here during the summer months.
The night market hosts a number of food stalls of all kinds, from BBQ and Vietnamese noodles to cronuts (so good, for sure get one) and ice cream. There are also a bunch of people selling their crafts, most often jewelry and soaps (though sometimes quite different ones come through, for example for the last two there was a lady selling super cute painted concrete pots with little succulents. If only I had some way to travel with a plant.) Musicians are also on hand to perform live music, and there are beanbag chairs you can sit in to watch them play up close and in comfort while you eat.
The market does get very busy, especially on days with good weather, so be prepared to wait a bit to get your food no matter which stall you choose. Luckily all of the food (that I’ve tried, at least) is super good and worth the wait.
Day & time: Every Thursday (weather permitting), 5:00 – 9:00pm
Location: Downtown Rotorua, on Tutanekai St (just start walking down Tutanekai until you run into the market, the whole street only takes 10 minutes to walk from end to end, and the market is smack dab in the middle.)
Saturday Morning Market
The Saturday market, put on by the local Rotary Club, is the more local-feeling of all the markets. It’s like walking through a big garage sale that also happens to have food. It is quite a bit smaller than the Thursday night market, but it’s still fun to walk through. People from around the area can buy a spot and come sell whatever they want. It’s definitely a good spot to come peruse for some secondhand goods. This market is also extra Rotorua-y because it takes place in Kuirau Park, the local free geothermal park. So you can enjoy the market and then wander through some bubbling mud and steam (there’s also a free footbath in Kuirau Park not far from where the market is. So why not go take a quick soak as well?)
The food is similar to the Thursday night market though there are fewer options. The Saturday market does, however, have the superior dumpling stand (in my opinion, at least.) The dumplings are cheaper and taste better. What more could you want? The cronut stand is always there as well, so if you missed it on Thursday you can grab one on Saturday (or just head out to their wonderful Ciabatta Café and grab a sandwich as well.)
Day & time: Every Saturday (weather permitting), 7:00am – 1:00pm
Location: Kuirau Park (On the northwest side of the city. If you’re on Lake Rd, just walk west and you’ll run into it. )
The Saturday market’s bougie cousin, the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market is less second hand goods and quick eats and more special tiny jars of artisanal jams and luxury meats (which is apparently a thing.) I honestly don’t go to this market much because I can’t afford anything there and I feel like the stall owners can tell and are judging me for it. It is also always quite cramped because of the way they set it up (all of the stalls facing in to form a tight U-shape, so once lines start forming there is no way for a nice flow of people to get through.) If you, however, are into fancy organic and artisanal foods, this is the market for you. As it is a farmer’s market, there is only food and no crafts. There is usually some live music though, and chairs to sit in and while you eat and watch the performance.
Day & time: Every Sunday (weather permitting), 7:00 – 11:00am
Location: At the intersection of Tutanekai St. and Hinemoa St. (Right in the middle of town, directly in front of the Starbucks)
Soundshell Craft Market
The Soundshell/Craft market is one of the larger markets in Rotorua. It takes place right by the riverfront and has dozens of stalls selling everything from homemade soap to woodwork to jewelry (and food, of course. Always food.) The Soundshell market takes place on Sundays, but not every Sunday so make sure to check online to see if it is happening before you go (though even if you get down there and it isn’t on, you can still just take a nice walk by the lake.)
Being the Craft Market, this is of course the main market you’re going to want to hit up if you’re looking for locally/handmade goods of all kinds. There are stalls for crafts at the Thursday and Saturday markets, but crafts are the bread and butter of the Soundshell market. My suggestion would be to go around and look at the stalls, buy anything that catches your fancy, then grab an ice cream or something and take a walk around the lake. It’s a very lovely way to spend your morning.
Day & time: Most Sundays, 9:00am – 3:00pm
Location: by the Lakefront, at the end of Tutanekai St.
Other Interesting Markets
Arts Village Market
Run by the local Arts Village, this is a market dedicated solely to New Zealand made arts and crafts. There are all kinds of awesome stalls to see and crafts to by, so you should definitely stop by if it is on when you are in Rotorua.
Day & time: Every second Sunday of the month, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Location: 1240 Hinemaru St.
Tulip Festival Market
Every year Rotorua is host to a big Tulip Festival. And with the Tulip Festival comes the Tulip Market. The market features local arts and crafts, food, and children’s art activities. If you’ll be coming through around October, I would definitely suggest trying to plan your trip to coincide with the Tulip Festival.
Day & Time: varies by year, but it will generally take place on the Saturday of the week of the Tulip Festival. Check online to see the exact day and time for the year you’ll be going.
Location: The Arts Village
- Bring Cash. Many of the stalls do not have eftpos/credit card capability, so just stop by an ATM on your way to the market and get some cash so you don’t have to worry about it.
- Food first, then shop for crafts. The food lines can get kind of long at the markets, and some of the star dishes/deserts sell out quickly. So do a quick first pass around the market to decide what food you want, get it, and then take a slow stroll around the market again to look at the crafts and other wares while you’re enjoying your food.
Watch the video of my day visiting the Saturday Rotary Market and the Soundshell Market below!