A holiday with a focus can take you to fascinating places you wouldn’t otherwise have thought to visit. Team the experience with a great cup of tea (or coffee) and you have every reason to hit the road and check out some of our country’s more historic cafes. From North to south, here are 5 of our hidden treasures.
‘Fill up’ at Northland’s Old Parakao Café/Bar
Head into the wop wops on a drive between Whangarei and Kaikohe on State Highway 15 and you’d never expect to find a welcoming ex-garage café with a roaring fire and shelves brimming over with memorabilia. What was once a general store as well, is now a ‘collector’s cup of tea’ offering very reasonably priced meals and a bar to boot. Play your cards right and you might even receive an invitation to peek at the vintage machinery and cars stored in the sheds out the back! And if you want to enjoy the café’s open-mic session, be sure to arrive on the last Sunday of the month.
“Cream in your tea, Madam?” Waikato’s Old Creamery Café
At Ohaupo, just 10 minutes from Hamilton but set among spreading English trees and tranquil gardens, this ‘olde worlde’ establishment is a step back into a more genteel era. The building dates from 1892 when it served as a creamery for local farmers for almost 40 years. A fertilizer depot then set up on the premises before the building became home, over time, to a number of families. Expect your refreshments to be served in bone china and without the hustle and bustle so often found in modern city cafes. This is a setting in which to bide your time and enjoy your surroundings – preferably over high tea (phone ahead to order in advance). When you’re through with eating, enjoy browsing in the attached French-styled gift shop.
Back to school in Golden Bay – Pakawau’s Old School Café-bar and Restaurant
It may be in the middle of nowhere, but The Old School Café-bar and Restaurant is well established as one of the best eateries in Golden Bay. True to form, it boats a blackboard menu and wooden tables and chairs that wouldn’t be out of place in a classroom. With a menu that features seafood (chowder and blue cod gets the thumbs up!), it’s not surprising that there’s a cat on the premises. See if you can beat it to the comfy sofa when you visit!
Dunedin’s old butchery – welcome to Rhubarb Café
Sitting solidly in the upmarket hill suburb of Roslyn, Rhubarb café has set up home in an old butchery – which explains it’s beautifully tiled interior and high stud. Sip a latte at the paua-coloured retro Formica tables as you people watch the pedestrians on Highgate road, and be sure to treat yourself to one of the establishment’s delicate rhubarb friands. The price you pay for the tiled interior is a slightly echoey environment but if you want somewhere quieter to sit, just wander through to the ‘wine cellar’ where a softer ambience awaits.
Holding court and admitted to the bar! Alexandra’s Courthouse Café
Built in 1876, Alexandra’s original courthouse offers artistically presented and scrumptious food. As well as the usual hot beverages there is also a bar, and an opportunity to try some of the regions exquisite wines. And with Central Otago’s famous sunshine hours on tap as well as a cool beer, you’ll be pleased to find there is plenty of outdoor seating where you can soak up the warmth. If you’re showing overseas visitors around, this is the place to head for a taste of Otago lamb, Kiwi pavlova and locally grown berries.