Top 10 family activities that should be on your bucket list
If you are planning a romantic night away, a weekend with the girls, or a road-trip with your favourite people, these are the places you need to wine and dine at along the way!
1. Duke of Marlborough
The Duke of Marlborough is a classic and if you haven’t dined here at least once before then you definitely need to make this one top of the list. Situated on the Russell waterfront, the sunset views here are spectacular, as are the oysters, local kaimoana, and seasonal produce dishes. Not only that, but it’s also got a cool history, as the first establishment to hold a liquor licence in Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s been refreshing rascals and reprobates ever since!
2. The Gables
The Gables is just down the road from The Duke, and also has an awesome claim to make, this time as the oldest operating restaurant in the country! The heritage building is certainly a relic of the times with its crooked beams and sloping floor but despite its age it still serves up stunning fine dining complemented with those classic Russell waterfront views.
3. Paroa Bay Winery
If you’re looking for romance, spectacular views, and delicious food and wine then look no further. There’s a reason the Tarapunga Villa at Paroa Bay Winery was the mansion for this year’s Bachelor New Zealand season, it’s one of the most romantic spots around. Sage @ Paroa Bay is the onsite restaurant dishing up local produce (some of which is foraged on the estate) and matching it with their exceptional wines.
4. Mangōnui Fish Shop
The Mangōnui Fish Shop has been on the itinerary of every traveller through Taitokerau Northland for many years now and for good reason. Overhanging the Mangōnui harbour, and right next to the wharf, the fish only travels 100m from boat to plate. You can’t get much fresher than that (unless you catch it yourself) and you can feel good about your meal too, knowing the fish is caught by sustainable long-lining methods and the whole fish is used in various ways.
One for the influencers, Instagrammers, and appreciators of good cocktails, Loco is the coolest place in the Whangārei Town Basin. Bright colours, alfresco dining, and tasty tipples are paired up with tapas-style South American inspired cuisine so you can stay long into the evening.
6. The Cove Cafe
Whether you’re after a coffee and brunch after a morning stroll along the beach, a post-surf beer, or a romantic evening overlooking the ocean, the Cove Cafe is the place to get it. Its casual appearance belies its spectacular menus, featuring locally sourced seafood and meat, and an excellent wine list.
7. McLeod’s Brewery and Pizza Barn
You can’t get a better combination than pizza and beer, and thankfully McLeod’s Brewery and Pizza Barn have you sorted on both fronts. The “brew crew” behind the scenes produce some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s best craft beers (evident by the collection of awards they pick up each year) including crowd favourite Longboarder, and the seasonal Far North Chili Pils with Kaitaia Fire. Add “slow” fast food like pizzas on hand-rolled bases and smoked ribs and you have yourself a winning combo.
8. Mint Restaurant
Located in the heart of the north, on Kaikohe’s main strip, Mint Restaurant takes up the space that once existed as the banking chambers in the old BNZ Bank Building. Impeccably restored and revived, the building also houses boutique accommodation upstairs in the original managers accommodation. Expect to find freshly baked treats, delicious beverages include rongoā (Māori medicine) teas and a dinner menu that focuses on highlighting local and seasonal produce.
Taking inspiration from the surrounding area, and incorporating outstanding local subtropical produce, Terra offers a fine dining experience that’s hard to beat! The passion for food here is clear, with food that looks as stunning as it tastes. Accompanied by views out over the Bay of Islands, this Paihia restaurant is one not to miss.
10. Boat Shed Cafe
You’ll be surprised what you find when you start getting off the beaten track in Taitokerau Northland, and the Boat Shed Cafe in Rāwene is testimony to that. Perched over the Hokianga Harbour, you’ll find yourself easily slipping into the relaxed pace of small-town life while you enjoy delicious home baked goods and house specials, and gems from the menu like Kutai (Mussel) pie.