Enjoy These Far North Restaurants in New Zealand

Traveling to the top of New Zealand’s North Island means going rural, but if you know where to look, there are plenty of great Far North restaurants. From fast food to fine dining, we covered the full gambit of options on our recent road trip.  Here are our top three favourite Far North restaurants in order from east to west:

Mangonui Fish Shop:

From the first time we enquired about fish and chips in New Zealand (12 years ago) we have always been told the best in the country is at Mangonui Fish Shop. This was my second visit and while the fish and chips are good, for me, it is the destination itself that makes me want to return.

Mangonui Fish Shop is a landmark amongst the Far North restaurants in New Zealand.

Mangonui Fish Shop is a landmark, possibly the most “famous” of the Far North restaurants in New Zealand.

Fish counter at Mangonui Fish Shop in the Far North of New Zealand.

Place your food order at the counter. There are plenty of other options to choose from, but we went for the traditional fish and chips.

Fish and chips at theMangonui Fish Shop, a landmark amongst the Far North restaurants in New Zealand.

In New Zealand fish and chips come wrapped in newsprint which absorbs the grease. This is a serving for two.

Inside Mangonui Fish Shop is a landmark amongst the Far North restaurants in New Zealand.

Having never fully adjusted to the early eating hours in New Zealand, we arrived very close to closing time and there was only one other family (behind me in the photo). During crowded hours diners share the large tables.

The peaceful view out the window of the Mangonui Fish Shop in the far North of New Zealand.

I love the peaceful view out the window.

Cafe at the Karikari Estate Winery:

We stopped here for a late morning tea. Sitting outside we overlooked the colorful flower gardens, immense Carrington Farm, the bright white silica sands of Te Kokata (the Sandspit) and in the far distance the giant sand dunes the girls sandboarded on the day before. The meals appeared good sized, well presented and very tempting. Our server seemed quite happy for us to enjoy the stunning surroundings with only a cup of coffee (and hot chocolate for the teens) without indulging in meals at prices reflected by the elegant atmosphere.

*It is only open in summertime from Labour Weekend until May.

Cellar Door at the Karikari Estate Winery is the most elegant of the Far North restaurants in New Zealand

Looking up over the flower garden at the outdoor seating of the cafe at the Karikari Estate Winery.

View from the Cellar Door at the Karikari Estate Winery is the most elegant of the Far North restaurants in New Zealand

View from our table. For some odd reason the sand appears whiter in the distance than it seemed when we were on the beach.

Pukenui Pacific Cafe:

This roadside stop on the drive to Cape Reinga is a real gem. My salad was fresh, insanely delicious, and reasonably priced. The more traditional cafe food brought smiles to the rest of the family. I think the biggest hit was the fresh organic strawberry milk shakes. A month later and they are still talking about them.

The Te Kao Store, located about 25km north on SH1, is famous for it’s ice creams, but having just enjoyed the wonderful milk shakes at Pukenui Pacific Cafe we drove past.

A salad at Pukeui Pacific Cafe - my favorite of the Far North restaurants in New Zealand

Fresh and delicious, this is my salad at Pukeui Pacific Cafe.

Organic strawberry milk shakes a the Pukeui Pacific Cafe - my favorite of the Far North restaurants in New Zealand

The organic strawberry milk shakes at the Pukeui Pacific Cafe are the perfect mix of fresh sweet strawberries, milk and probably magic. So good!

Late Night Options:

Forgetting for a moment that we were outside of a major city, we stayed to enjoy the sunset from 90 mile beach, which in December isn’t until about 8.30pm. This left us with very few options of Far North restaurants that were open. We asked several locals and drove around. Should you find yourself in this situation, the only two options we found are both in Kaitaia – McDonald’s (open until 11pm during the week and 12am on Friday and Saturday) or Kentucky Fried Chicken (open until 10pm).

Practical information on these Far North restaurants:

  • Mangonui Fish Shop is located along the coast in Mangonui. It is open everyday from 8.30am to 9pm.
  • Karikari Estate is New Zealand’s northern most winery. It is on Maitai Bay Road on the Karikari Peninsula. The cafe is open only in summer from 11am to 4pm.
  • Pukenui Pacific Cafe is located in Pukenui along the SH1 at Lamb Road, right next to the Four Square. It is open most days  from about 9am until they close. It’s best to book if you want dinner. (This vague description is typical in New Zealand, and was quite frustrating when I first moved here).
  • My favourite New Zealand guide is: Lonely Planet New Zealand.
  • A map of the three Far North restaurants featured on this page:

***If you are traveling to the Far North, there is plenty to see along the way. Don’t miss our favourite 4-5 day Northland itinerary.

Have you been to the top of New Zealand’s North Island? Which are your favourite Far North restaurants?

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This post also linked at:
Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.30.17 pmThe Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Wanderlust at Justin plus Lauren, Photo Friday at Pierced Wanderings Sunday’s in My City at the Unknown Mami, and Travel Photo Mondays at Travel Photo Discoveries.

Gumdiggers Park: A New Zealand Wonder Worth Visiting
Cape Reinga: Stunning and Spiritual Top of New Zealand


  1. says

    I am Australian, I have to say it – loved the fesh and cheps that you mentioned 🙂 Ok, got that out of my system, I have heard of Mangonui Fish Shop before. I do like the look of the milkshakes I must say.

  2. says

    Hi Rhonda – those all sound positively delicious and it’s only breakfast time here … the views are stunning – definitely they’d all be on my list for when I visit – anon anon sadly! Glorious photos .. cheers Hilary

    • says

      It’s part of New Zealand’s charm. In the rural areas nothing will be open past 9pm, and most shops are closed by 5.30. Restaurants will close their kitchens by 8pm, or earlier. It is common not to publish a closing time, so they are not obligated to stay open if no one is there. We were lucky Kaitaia is big enough for a McDonalds and KFC – they were the only places open within an hour or more drive from where we were. Eating out isn’t as prevalent in NX as it is in the USA. And when people eat out, it is the event not just a quick meal.

  3. says

    Of course I’ve not been there since I’ve never been to New Zealand. I love fish though. A lot.

    I loved all the photography too. It sort of reminds me of our long weekend on the coast.

    Have a fabulous day Rhonda. 🙂

    • says

      Thanks Sandee, and yes, the Far North reminds me of the Half Moon Bay coast. I think that having lived there for 15 years before coming here made my adjustment much easier.

  4. says

    I love everything about your blog posts. You have a knack for combining beautiful photos, personal stories, and really practical information. I know exactly where to look if we ever get out to New Zealand. I mean when we get out to New Zealand!

  5. says

    I love traveling to eat. I’ve been to New Zealand but want to bring my husband there so will check these places out when I go back 🙂 Thanks!

    • says

      LOL – I don’t travel to eat anymore (I lost 21kg in the past 7 months). However, I do love to eat when I travel. The salad was mine, the milk shake belonged to the girls.

  6. says

    A nice list of restaurants for those who may visit the area. From your list of restaurants I think I would have liked Pukenui Pacific Cafe. It seems like a more sophisticated one, with good food.

  7. says

    A fabulous roundup of where to eat in the north. I have been up as far as the Bay of Islands and stayed at Pahai. There were a couple of great restaurants along the waterfront that were really good but I can’t remember their names. Such a lovely part of NZ.

  8. says

    That thumbnail of the strawberry milkshakes drew me in. It’s great that they’re organic, too. It’s been so long since I’ve had proper fish and chips, so that photo is making me hungry, too. Looks like there’s some great options at the top of the North Island… as long as you don’t wait until too late at night.

  9. says

    This is super useful for our upcoming trip to northlands in a few weeks time! I think we are staying close to the karikari estate so will be sure to check it out! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard

  10. says

    I’m not sure why but I was surprised to see fish and chips on the menu and served in newspaper.
    Amazing that this restaurant has the best fish and chips in the country. All your dishes here looks delicious

  11. says

    That fish and chip! yummm I love to see pictures of food as cliche as it’s now. I still do it just so I can look back and remember how tasty it was that I ate lol. I guess I need to make New Zealand my next spot to visit.

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