Inspired by the classic children’s book ‘watership down,’ owners Errin and Harry Salisbury have combined fairytale fantasy with the sense of a home away from home. Harry explains, “The overall philosophy is to provide a sanctuary, a place where rabbits can feel safe and happy.”

Needless to say, you won’t find rabbit on the menu.

It’s a cold and blustery day when I meet with manager Debbie, and The Rabbit Hole couldn’t be more inviting. Hawke’s Bay sheepskins cuddle the seating, deep hues line the walls, and rose-gold hardware dresses the tables – luxurious icing on this oh-so-comfortable cake. I spend most of the interview considering a cheeky lie down in one of the private booths, apprehensive about my impending return to the outside world.

On warm days, the windows and doors fold back to create one large open space. “We want our clientele to feel removed from the humdrum, yet still be connected to the overall Mount buzz.”

Sheltered and sunny for most of the day, the al fresco area connecting the restaurant and café offers an outstanding vantage point. Looking along Maunganui Road, Salisbury Wharf, and across the bustling roundabout that connects the two, it is people watching gold.

A café and restaurant, The Rabbit Hole covers all your bases, from an extensive breakfast menu, excellent coffee and imaginative cabinet food, to business lunches, afternoon tipples, dinner, and weekend sessions complete with live music.

Air roasted Fixation coffee is the ultimate accompaniment to delicious house-made cabinet food, and when you’re in search of something stronger, head across to the restaurant for lunch, tapas, or dinner.

The restaurant menu offers some intriguing elements. Chef Cezar Takahashi is Brazilian-born with Japanese ancestry, and uses a combination of flavours and techniques from both South America and Japan, to create a Nikkei menu. Japanese-Peruvian fusion is centuries old, but is the current trend sweeping Europe.

Debbie says, “Cezar is passionate about fish. He prepares sashimi using Japanese techniques then adds the sweetness and spice of Brazilian flavours. We still have the classics, but you also have a chance to try something new and interesting.”

Saturdays and Sundays provide the offering of live music, and what better way to while away the afternoon than with a few tunes, a cold drink and a Brazilian meat or cheese platter?

“We can host events, we encourage business breakfasts, and we are definitely family friendly. We want everybody to feel The Rabbit Hole is the place for them. Come in, snuggle down and let us do the rest.”


Salmon, edamame purée, prawns and teriyaki sauce


pork belly, tauranga, the rabbit hole, restaurant, food
Golden lemongrass pork belly


Cured ora king salmon, green apple and fennel puree, spicy poached shallots with dill oil, clams, sunomono, salicornia seaweed with coconut lime oil, furikake sponge and squid ink tuile

211 Maunganui Rd, Downtown Mount Maunganui

Open: Café 7 Days, 7.30am – 4pm;

Restaurant Tue – Sun, 11am – late