Must-visit small town cafés around New Zealand

Good Union

Bosco Café

Rush Munro's Ice Cream Gardens

Mister D

L’Arte Café and Gallery

Astro Café

The Shearers Quarters

Must-visit small town cafés around New Zealand

Road trippin’? We’ve got the coolest, quirkiest little places to stop at for a decent cup of coffee with friendly service and a pretty outlook. These small-town cafés have got it all, and some of them are so good that they’ve become a destination all their own.

North Island

The Railway Station Café – Kawakawa, Bay of Islands

This cute little stop is situated in an old railway station, complete with railway-themed décor and the historic trains of the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway chugging by. Try the Engineer’s Breakfast – it’ll have you ready for a full day on the tracks.

Chocolate Brown – Warkworth, Northland

Beautiful artisan chocolates handmade on site are the number one reason to visit this relaxed, friendly café in Warkworth’s Mill Lane, but don’t bypass the café in your hurry to get to the chocolaterie. The food here is classic and top-quality, the donuts are works of art, and the hot chocolate is to die for.

Café Narnia – Whangarei, Northland

Big couches, fresh Northland produce and a wicked cabinet selection brought to you by the resident patisserie chef is the order of the day here. Not to mention the wardrobe-inspired doorway lined with fur coats so you can enact that classic scene to your heart’s content.

Bosco Café – Te Kuiti, King Country

Beautifully presented food and great coffee welcome you to this friendly local in King Country. It’s a wide-open, sunny, colourful space that will have you fully recharged for wherever you’re headed next.

Grindz Café – Tauranga, Bay of Plenty

Providing the good people and visitors of Tauranga with all their plant-based needs as well as fab coffee and some epic breakfasts – we’re talking the pancakes-topped-with-candyfloss level of epic.

Poppy’s Café – Whakātane, Bay of Plenty

An absolute institution in the heart of Whakātane’s town centre, Poppy’s has got all-day breakfast so you can enjoy a good ol’ eggs benny in the sunny outdoor eating area whenever you damn well feel like it.

L&P Café, Bar and Brasserie – Paeroa, Waikato

This iconic café and bar should be your first stop when you’re in Paeroa (or, OK, second after the other giant soft drink bottle). The whole place rocks a retro yellow-and-brown colour scheme and has exclusive L&P creations to try, including L&P ice cream and milkshakes.

Colenso Café & Country Shop – Whenuakite, The Coromandel

This Coromandel café and shop harvests produce from its own orchard and gardens, the perfect place to enjoy a sunny afternoon outdoors over a coffee, wine, or beer. Your dog is welcome too!

Café Melbourne – Thames, The Coromandel

The name’s not a misnomer – there’s a cute story of Thames boy meets Melbourne girl behind it, which you can read on the blackboard inside. The café also brings the Melbourne vibes with its exposed brick walls, vintage feel, and deliciously different brekkie options.

UMU Café – Coromandel, The Coromandel

Everything you’d expect from a cruisy Coromandel eatery and more; UMU does a fab line in seafood, especially the mussel chowder. The staff are always friendly, dogs are welcome outside, and the indoor-outdoor flow would make a real estate agent giddy.

Soul Burger – Whangamatā

A gourmet burger bar that makes all its burger patties by hand and tops it off with homemade sauces and homemade chippie seasoning, this one’s a must-visit. Keto bunless burgers, vegetarian and vegan options will have absolutely everyone salivating over this incredible menu.

Ohiwa Oyster Farm – Whakātane, Bay of Plenty

Seafood lovers, pay attention: with oysters grown right here and fresh fish smoked on site, you won’t want to miss this one. The restaurant is right on the harbour so you can admire the views across the water to the oyster farm while you enjoy your meal.

The Old Mill Café – Tairua, The Coromandel

With views of the Tairua Marina and estuary to keep you company while you enjoy a wine or beer, you might very well want to settle in for an entire afternoon. You’ll need the time to choose from the fresh menu options and decadent range of baked goodies anyway.

Bugger Café – Pipiroa, Waikato

You won’t feel the need to let out any such curses while you’re enjoying the atmosphere and great food at Bugger Café. This joint is all about having a bit of fun, so take a moment to chuckle at the ‘bugger moments’ on display while you enjoy an excellent cup of joe.

Rush Munro’s Ice Cream Gardens – Hastings, Hawke’s Bay

Be rude not to, right? After all, this is the home of one of New Zealand’s premium ice cream brands, and you can enjoy it straight from the source at these beautiful gardens, surrounded by the prized roses of Frederick Rush Munro himself.

Mr Badger’s Country Café – Hāwera, Taranaki

If you’re a fan of The Wind in the Willows, you’ll love the experience of this themed café within the legendary Tawhiti Museum. There are delightful dioramas featuring characters from the book dotted around the walls, and a human-sized Mr Badger sits by the fire, his black-and-white nose in a book.

Mister D – Napier, Hawke’s Bay

Bursting with personality and is often packed with locals. It’ll be challenging not to fill up on the delicious and creative menu items, but you’ll want to leave room for a donut: these bad boys are served warm, accompanied by syringes of chocolate, jam and custard to fill them with.

Secret Garden – Waihi, The Coromandel

Feel like you’re on a tropical holiday in this lush, Bali-inspired coffee garden that serves its black gold along with hot food and superfood smoothies from ‘The Pod’. With Balinese-style huts, low tables and cushions on the lawn, this is a perfect spot for soaking in the sun and getting your relax on.

The Big Apple – Waitomo, Waikato

Follow the literal big apple (the size of a small house) to this open, sunny space serving generous portions of classic Kiwi food, including massive ice creams in a cone. The view out over the countryside isn’t too shabby, either.

Good Union – Cambridge, Waikato

Housed in a historic church, Good Union is Good George Brewing’s Cambridge outpost, and it will have you feeling positively spiritual. The wood smoker came all the way from Tennessee and gives that mouthwatering authenticity to the slow-cooked BBQ meats.

Te Uku Roast Office – Raglan, Waikato

Find this unexpected treasure on the road to Raglan. The old Te Uku Post Office now has a different purpose in life, small-batch roasting its own Raglan Roast coffee and serving cups of the good stuff to fuel your day. The attached art gallery is a tribute to a former Post Master who learned to paint with his feet.

L’Arte Café and Gallery – Taupō, King Country

With a garden filled with art and sculptures, a working pottery studio on site, and an awesome mosaicked outdoor living room, this café is an attraction in its own right. All the food is made fresh on site and you can wet your whistle with wine, beer, and Allpress coffee.

South Island

The Old Mountaineers Café, Bar & Restaurant – Mount Cook, Mackenzie District

Set in stunning alpine surrounds and decorated with a gallery of historic photographs, this café brings all the vibes of an authentic mountaineers’ rest stop. In fact, it is the only business in the Mount Cook village to have been officially opened by Sir Edmund Hillary!

Jester House Café – Tasman

This gem tucked away on the road between Ruby Bay and Motueka is part café, part magical adventure, with massive gardens to explore, tame eels to feed, and heaps of games, playground equipment and curiosities to discover. The café is now open only on Fridays, but you can stay in the fairytale accommodation on site any day of the week.

Café Encounter – Kaikōura

Located in the same space as the Dolphin Encounter and Albatross Encounter tours, this beachfront café serves fresh and delicious breakfast, brunch and lunch, with an outdoor courtyard for enjoying the sun.

Astro Café – Tekapo, Mackenzie District

Enjoy incredible views from the summit of Mount John at Astro Café, from the pristine lake and mountains during the day to the internationally recognised star-filled skies at night. Settle in with a Saturn-themed cappuccino and a savoury or sweet treat and soak in the vistas from every angle.

The Artist’s Palate – Akaroa, Canterbury

Set in the phenomenal The Giant’s House artist’s garden, this café serves light lunches and afternoon teas to sustain you while you explore the historic house and extensive gardens with the incredible collection of mosaics and sculptures.

The Shearers Quarters – Timaru, South Canterbury

Just north of Timaru in the little hamlet of Seadown, this country café overflows with rustic charm. The unique buildings provide ample chances to sit back in a comfy armchair with a hot or cold drink, from an old silo to a disused shearing shed, and there’s a verandah and sunny garden for enjoying the fresh air.

Harbour Street Collective – Oamaru, North Otago

Stop in at the heart of Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct to avail yourself of the excellent coffee, top notch fare and comfy vintage surrounds. There’s even a pretty awesome playground, so the kids’ entertainment is sorted.

The Musterer’s Hut – Twizel, Mackenzie District

The perfect stop on a road trip through Mackenzie Country, serving fresh homemade baking and scrumptious brunch and lunch options in a beautiful scenic environment. There’s an 18-hole mini golf course and gift shop on site.

The Store – Kekerengu, Marlborough

A gorgeous coastal café, restaurant and campground happily situated on Kaikōura’s rugged coast with views out to the sea and a stunning indoor fire for those colder days.

Nosh – Waimate, South Canterbury

Your classic roadside stop-off with food to write home about, including a cabinet bursting with all manner of sweet goodies. Meals are beautifully presented and there are plenty of handheld options if you’re in a hurry.

Olive Tree Café – Te Anau

Set in tranquil lakeside surroundings in an old police station, this café not only has a full menu of brunch, lunch and dinner classics, the team can also do you up a packed lunch to take out with you on your Fiordland adventures.


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