If you are exploring the area north of the Bay of Islands in Northland you're going to want to find the best places to eat. Due to the sparse population of this part of New Zealand, there isn't too much in the way of fine dining. Nevertheless, there are some interesting places that will satisfy your taste buds. Here is a selection of places that are above average.
Kerikeri is the largest town in the far north and has the best choices for eating. For food quality and atmosphere the absolute stand out is The Italians Restaurant (on the main street of town opposite the Countdown supermarket). It's also BYO as well as licensed so it gives you a good opportunity to take along your own special bottle.
At the other end of the main street (the northern end) is a small arcade with a cluster of decent eateries, including an Indian restaurant, a Middle Eastern cafe and a pizza takeaway.
Other good places in Kerikeri are The Pear Tree (opposite the Stone Store), The Black Olive (another Italian restaurant) and the Chang Siam Thai Restaurant in Waipapa Road.
For lunch, try the Fishbone cafe or the Sushi Gallery in the main street. If you want something a bit more special, lunch at the Marsden Estate Winery is recommended; it provides an excellent menu in a lovely vineyard setting (and the wines are good too).
Famous for its fish and chip cafe over the water, the small harbourside village of Mangonui has several other cafes. The fish and chips really are by far the best on offer here, but if you feel like something different there's a decent Thai restaurant around the corner and the Waterfront Cafe serves good coffee.
Read more: Mangonui - More than Just Fish and Chips
As you pass through Taipa, at the northern end of Cooper's Beach and Cable Bay, you would be forgiven for thinking there is nothing much here other than a takeaway joint. But there's actually a rather decent Indian restaurant tucked down the side street on the right. It's BYO too; grab a bottle of wine from the general store (superette) across the road.
On the Taipa beachfront is the restaurant of the Taipa Beach resort, which is open throughout the day for meals and snacks.
The Karikari Peninsula
Although rather remote, the Karikari Peninsula is worth visiting for its spectacular beaches. It also has two upscale eating places which take advantage of the stunning coastal views. The restaurant at the Carrington Resort is truly five-star. Karikari Estate cafe is part of the winery of the same name and is rather more casual. Both are worth a visit for the views alone.
Read more: Top Ten Best Beaches in the Far North
Kaitaia and Ahipara
Kaitaia is the largest town on the far North's western side and doesn't have too many highlights when it comes to dining. The Herb Shack Cafe is a quirky place providing very good vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free fare.
Other than that there is a Chinese restaurant and the Beachcomber which serves traditional meals; both of these are on the main street.
Ahipara, towards the coast from Kaitaia, has the excellent Gumdiggers Cafe. This is open for lunch and through the day only.
Once you get north of Kaitaia the choice of eating places gets very limited. If you are staying this far north, or are traveling to Cape Reinga at the very top of the island, there is a small and casual cafe at Houhora. They serve coffees and a small selection of meals.