Find the true taste of Taitokerau Northland on this one to three-day itinerary at the very top of the country.
The subtropical north is a big region producing plenty of bold flavours and warm hospitality. We've created four guides to help you to experience the best food and drink across Taitokerau Northland. Take your pick as you travel through, or follow the itinerary below for a delicious self-guided foodie tour. As you explore this laid-back region, there are two Northland Journeys that will help you make the most of it. These free downloadable maps are great for exploring must-visit places as well as hidden gems.
Feast and Forage in the Far North Itinerary
Duration: 1- 3 days
When heading to the Far North for a getaway you can expect to discover a true taste of Taitokerau, in many ways. It’s a little like stepping into ‘island time’ so make sure you have at least a few nights (or more) planned in this beautiful region so you can slow down and soak in the laid-back pace of life. The Far North is also home to many artisanal food and beverage producers so if you’re a keen foodie, you can use this guide to immerse yourself and plan where to eat like a local along the way.
Our guide begins as you head north from Kerikeri. If you’re an early bird and looking for a nourishing breakfast we recommend Feast NZ. This popular café offers an enticing menu using lots of fresh local ingredients and they’re open from 7am most days for those who want to pack plenty into the day ahead. Alternatively, look out for the Tiki-style umbrellas and the colourful bunch at Super Bowl for morning refreshment. With plenty of vibrant options, from smoothies and breakfast bowls, to wholesome soups and their signature ‘super bowls’ you’re sure to get those holiday vibes at this place.
If you’re travelling in the summer months and love the sweetness of sun-ripened blueberries, be sure to make a stop at Blue River Orchard before leaving town. A quick detour off State Highway 10 leads you to this family-run orchard store where you can buy freshly picked blueberries for your trip and enjoy a coffee or real fruit ice cream in their lovely garden surrounded by acres of ripening berries. From here you’ll be set to follow the Northland Journey Headlands & Hidden Harbours and discover coastal beauty at its finest.
The small seaside town of Mangōnui has a big reputation for very good reason. In the heart of Doubtless Bay this cute fishing village is home to many creative folk who love it for the mild climate, natural beauty and easy way of life. There are also a bunch of food and drink experiences here and close by that are well worth checking out.
Before you arrive, get in touch with Dancing Petrel Vineyard and Hihi Olive Estate to arrange a tasting of what’s on offer. Dancing Petrel is producing some excellent examples of what makes Northland’s wine industry so intriguing. The special micro-climate and hand-harvesting means the fruit bursts from the bottle and is why many of their wines regularly receive praise from reviewers and wine-lovers alike. Kim will take you through a tasting and you can purchase your favourites to take away with you. At Hihi Olive Estate you can chat to the owners and sample some of the award-winning olive oils which are grown, harvested and pressed onsite. All products are available to purchase, including premium black garlic and luscious olive oil soaps.
These tasting experiences may leave you wanting more so head into Mangonui and grab some lunch at Little Kitchen Café. You’ll find friendly service and a love of local here, with a changing selection of morsels in their cabinet and a seasonal menu you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can also pick up some delicious locally made products from their retail space inside.
A stay in this area wouldn’t be complete without the classic kiwi experience of devouring a generous serving of fish and chips at the beach. The Mangonui Fish Shop is iconic for its location, sitting right over the water, and the fresher-than-fresh fish that is line-caught by locals and processed onsite. Trading for over 70 years and open every day except Christmas, there’s always a bounty of fresh kaimoana (seafood) available from chilled raw fish salads and marinated local mussels to deep-fried favourites. The hardest part will be deciding, but you simply can’t go wrong by opting for the seafood that comes directly from local waters, and the friendly team will always let you know what’s fresh off the boat. Grab a beer or wine, keep the kids happy with crowd-pleasing options and enjoy a relaxed evening with coastal views and the gentle lapping waters below you.
Wonderfully replete, you can retire to one of many accommodation options here including boutique lodges, serviced apartments, or motels and B&B’s.
Get ready for another day full of foodie adventures! A great place to enjoy breakfast before departing Mangonui is at the Waterfront Café & Bar. A welcoming spot overlooking the harbour, there’s plenty on the menu to get you started. With daily bakes, great coffee, and gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options also on offer, these guys will make sure you’re looked after.
From here there’s loads of ways to explore the wider Doubtless Bay area, from beautiful walks and boutique shopping to soaking up some seaside fun at the golden sand beaches.
Plan for a light lunch ahead of some up-close foodie experiences recommended for the afternoon. Grab some homemade goodies from the quintessential Cable Bay Store, the quirky Bush Fairy Dairy or visit local fish smoking gurus at Apatu Aqua and enjoy a picnic at any of the lovely spots close by.
If your local food love extends to immersing yourself in the story of how a local product is made and the people who create it, then there are two outstanding experiences here that you’ll want to get amongst. The Taipa Salt Pig produces a range of salt that comes directly from the pristine Far North oceans. It’s naturally dried by the power of the sun and ‘Salt Baron’ James is a master of innovation when it comes to taking a humble seasoning to new heights with locally inspired flavours. Get in touch ahead of time and arrange a meet-the-maker tour that will take you from Taipa beach with water collection, and transits back to the nearby Salty HQ for a full process experience including flavouring some salt for yourselves or even making a salt foot scrub. James will host you on this fun experience where you’ll learn, laugh and taste what makes this product beloved in the North.
If coffee gets you going, then you’ll want to arrange a visit with New Zealand’s only commercial coffee plantation at Ikarus Coffee. Rob and Carol are the duo behind this trail-blazing business, they have a deep love of the environment and of course, coffee! Set on the peaceful Pukerau Hills overlooking the bay, Rob will take you on a tour through their lovely subtropical garden and the coffee plantation acreage. They’ll share their journey of what it has taken to establish a sustainable New Zealand-grown coffee crop and lead you through the drying and roasting process. Rob and Carol are generous with their knowledge and experience and you’re sure to leave inspired by this pioneering business.
Each of these experiences will take a couple of hours so you may need to choose which, or simply plan to stay here longer to enjoy both!
Bidding farewell to Doubtless Bay, you’ll only be on the road a short while before you reach the spectacular Karikari Peninsula and home of New Zealand’s northern-most vineyard Karikari Estate. Situated at the sprawling Carrington Estate with its luxury accommodation and 18-hole golf course, there are a number of dining options available, and you don’t need to book accommodation here to enjoy what’s on offer.
Through the warmer months, you can head up to the grand Mediterranean-style building that houses the winery, tasting and barrel room, and the winery café. Karikari Estate is proud to be part of Northland’s progressive winemaking community and as such, doesn’t limit its tasting experience to what is produced onsite but includes a selection of other wines which come from the region. Choose to stay here and enjoy a casual dinner of shared platters and pizza, or head down to the Carrington Resort Restaurant. The lodge-style restaurant boasts a paddock-to-plate menu, delicious wine and genuine hospitality.
Carrington Estate has a range of accommodation options from villas to luxury houses or lodge rooms, there are plenty of holiday homes around, or you can head back into Doubtless Bay for boutique accommodation offerings.
Today is about hitting the road, the must-do trip to the very top of the North Island is a journey not to be missed so pack up the car and make a stop on the way at The Bakerman Café in Awanui for a hearty breakfast. Located right next to the Awanui River, you can expect a good selection of homely fare with fresh-from-the-oven bakes and pastries as well as a tasty, considered breakfast menu. Locals love this place for the super friendly service, delicious cakes, and good coffee so it’s the perfect place to fuel up. You may also want to take away a couple of goodies for the trip north to keep you going as this part of the country is fairly remote.
It’s a journey into another world as you take the road that leads you to Te Rerenga Wairua Cape Reinga, Aotearoa New Zealand’s northern-most point. The landscape changes vastly along the way and there are so many places to stop and take in this incredible environment. Known by Māori as the leaping place of the spirits departing back to their homeland of Hawaiki, Te Rerenga Wairua Cape Reinga is also a meeting place of great oceans. You can’t help but feel something incredibly special here. Please note, this is a sacred site so please avoid eating here, and instead spend your time taking it all in.
After so much jaw-dropping beauty, a scramble and slide on the epic sand dunes of Te Paki or a rip along Ninety Mile Beach, you’ll be looking for some sustenance. As you make your way south, make sure you stop in Houhora at the legendary container café Houhora Honey Bees. Famous for their homemade pies packed with local ingredients, if you’re lucky they will have some of their much reviewed paua pies available. Also on offer are tasty sandwiches, cakes, coffee, and real fruit ice cream.
Then it’s back on the road, so refer to the Northland Journey Te Hiku-o-te Ika-a-Māui for significant places to visit, whether it’s out to beautiful Ahipara to check out the local art scene or on to Kaitaia where you can take in some historic stories at Te Ahu Museum.
If you’re staying near Kaitaia there’s a new spot in town that is totally worth checking out. Bringing a modern take on Mediterranean cuisine with a good dose of Northland flavour is Peekaboo Backyard Eatery. Owners of longtime family favourite Beachcomber Restaurant, Stefanie and Daniel merge their European origins with a love of local in this new venture. Don’t let the cutesy name mislead you, serious thought has gone into the menu curation and the contemporary design invites you in with its open kitchen, generously stocked bar, and sprawling alfresco dining area. A considered pizza menu sits alongside a selection of small and large plates that make for a memorable dining experience catering to all tastes, an evening here really is a great way to complete your Far North journey.
Kaitaia has a small range of accommodation options and Ahipara has a campground, motel and plenty of holiday homes to choose from.