If you’re a visitor to Rotorua and haven’t been lucky enough to get to know some local Maori and then be invited to their home for a boil up or hangi, well, bummer for you. However you can experience those very same indigenous delights at Kiwi Kai at 1211 Amohau Street. Kiwi Kai (NZ Food) opened in 2013 with the express intention to be a viable contender in the takeaway market - with an eye to big expansion. 2 years later, owner Chris Poipoi says they’re on track to achieve their goals making kai that his mother used to make.
Kiwi Kai offers genuine Maori food for the locals and non-locals alike. The Hangi (Maori word to describe the process of how food was traditionally cooked) comes in 4 options: Chicken or Pork or Lamb, or a sort of meat lovers pack which has all 3 meats. Potatoes, kumara, pumpkin and cabbage with rewena bread (explanation to follow!) stuffing to round off the meal. Each comes pre-packed, hot, and ready to eat.
Boil-ups (way better than the name suggests!) are a simple Maori meal; throw some vegetables, some meat (usually pork), watercress (a wild spinach type veg) altogether and boil-it-up.
Other options on the menu are the Rewena Bread (a bread that uses a potato bug/mixture instead of yeast), fried bread (a yeast bread cooked in canola oil, sort of like a donut), seafood chowder for seafood lovers, and for dessert, mouth wateringly luscious steam puddings (on its own or with custard and cream!)
And then there’s the Rewena Burger range. A massive burger cooked on 2 huge slices of rewena bread (try the “Waha-nui” translated as “Big Mouth” .. named so because you have to have a BIG MOUTH to eat it!! IT IS HUGE!). Surely the biggest burger in town!
Around half of Kiwi Kai customers are tourists and the other half local – both Maori and Pakeha. But Chris says Maori are the hardest to please because, wouldn’t you know it, they want their kai just like their own mothers’ made.
Open from 10am till 8pm Monday to Saturday, you really should make Kiwi Kai a part of your stay in Rotorua.