The Bay of Islands has no shortage of entertaining, delicious, kid-friendly friendly restaurants to keep your tribe’s tummies happy when you’re adventuring around the region – and the adults will love them as well. We’ve rounded up some of the top family-friendly restaurants in Paihia and surroundings below.
The whole gang will love the delicious eats and fresh airy seaside vibe of Charlotte’s Kitchen. At a table looking out over the water, the kids can tuck into hand-crafted woodfired pizza loaded with mozzarella and prosciutto, and the adults can treat themselves to the slow-roasted pork knuckle or Waikare Inlet Oysters. This place is a favourite with both locals and visitors.
The Duke of Marlborough
Dine right on the waterfront in Russell for lunch or for dinner. This gorgeous historic hotel opened in 1827, and dining here feels like you’ve been transported back in time with classic décor from the past – stained glass windows, floral carpets, red upholstery, a roaring fire. This hotel was the first place in New Zealand to be granted a liquor license. The food however is modern and there is something to suit all palates – it’s all fresh, seasonal and delicious. There is also a kids’ menu, and you can dine outside on the deck with views of the water if you wish.
The kids will embrace the quirkiness of having an aquarium in the middle of the restaurant (at 66,000 litres it’s the biggest in Northland), and the relaxed atmosphere lends itself well to family dining. There are more tables outside on the dock, where you’ll be sitting over the water – the perfect place for some fish n chips and a cold drink. The restaurant is named of course for famed American author and fishermen Zane Grey who visited New Zealand many times from 1926, and made New Zealand’s sportfishing world famous.
Greens Restaurant has a menu to suit everyone – the chefs hail from both Thailand and India, and so you can get anything from pad thai or fried rice through to rich tikka masala and naan. The interior is cosy with loads of seating, so it’s a great place for large groups. They also do takeaway if it’s a lovely summer’s evening and you’d rather take it to the Paihia Wharf, which is literally just across the road and has lots of benches to sit on.
This is Latin American cuisine at its finest – El Café is a pumping little breakfast/lunch spot near the beach that serves up burritos packed with fresh local ingredients, a range of baked goods, decent coffee, and decadent milkshakes. They like to have good music playing and the staff are lovely – the owner is from Chile. It’s about a 10-minute walk along the beach from Paihia CBD.
Third Wheel Coffee Co
Located just behind Green’s Restaurant, this gem is such a fun, family-friendly café, with wheel-inspired décor, vibrant artworks, and very friendly service. The menu includes fresh salads, baked goods, pizza bread, amazing coffee, and lots of vegan/gluten-free options. There’s a sitting area outside where you can let the kids run free. Very popular with locals, it’s passionately run by brother-sister duo Tom and Genevieve Richardson.
The Black Olive
The food at this Kerikeri establishment is consistently rated delicious (in fact, they’re renowned for it), with anything from steak or seafood platters to vegetarian cuisine to special-recipe pizza and chips. There’s a bar dining area for large groups, but also the option to sit on the deck outside, with a lovely outdoor garden area (with seating) and children’s playground.
Marsden Estate Winery and Restaurant
This restaurant sits in the middle of rows and rows of vines that stretch out in every direction. While you might enjoy the wine tasting and the innovative cuisine, the kids will love exploring the perfect sloping green lawns, exploring around the gorgeous lily pond and the garden with its blooming roses. There’s a lovely courtyard dining space under a vine-draped pergola for those hot summer days.
The Old Packhouse, Kerikeri
The Old Packhouse café is open seven days a week 6.30am until 4pm with beautiful fresh food. Of course, the café is smack bang in the middle of a very special weekend farmers market on Saturdays and Sundays, where you can find fresh produce, baked goods, coffee, flowers, art, clothing, live music, ice cream and more.