Let’s start with the cafe culture - it’s vibrant, contemporary and sometimes quirky. For a front row lakeside view, head to Cafe Baku where the coffee is outstanding, the salad bar is always fresh and the baked goods are dreamy. Baked With Love Eatery is famous for its incredible doughnuts and cakes, but there’s also delicious savoury brioche and hearty sandwiches.
The Storehouse food is seasonal and soulful and ranges from delicious menu items such as Ranchers Eggs, sliders and waffles to fresh baking that’s better than grandma’s. Their Kokako coffee is pretty good too. Victoria's Cafe Kitchen Bar consistently serves up delicious food and excellent coffee in a friendly, relaxed surroundings. Their fluffies come highly recommended even for the not-so-little kids.
Industrie French Kitchen - Taupo's newest cafe - is an absolute must-visit for exquisite French pastry, baguettes and a delicious blackboard menu.
Creel Cafe in Turangi really is a hidden gem - blink and you could miss this tiny eatery tucked away behind a tackle shop. Serving the best pastries this side of France, scrumptious home-cooked food and a great range of drinks.
For something a little different, turn your cafe visit into an arty experience at Lava Glass Cafe. The cafe has an extensive menu, comfortable couches to relax on and a glassblowing gallery full of beautiful, colourful masterpieces. Venture outside to the glass sculpture garden and, if your timing’s right, you might also get to view the glass blowing process with artists at work in the studio.
If you’re a coffee connoisseur, don’t miss the Manuka Brothers coffee at The Tipsy Trout in Kinloch – it really does taste like the manuka that the beans are roasted with. This is a great stop-off if you’ve been mountain biking or walking on the Great Lake Trail.
The local roast is Volcanic Coffee which can be found in supermarkets, speciality food stores and cafes throughout the region.