Heading North this weekend? We have some great spots serving Kōkako up North, which our Business Development Manager Zoe has shared below — along with some other great tips for your next trip north of Auckland! Read on for Zoe's road trip recommendations.
I love Northland, it’s a magical place with some wonderful hidden gems alongside stunning beaches and a more relaxed vibe than you find in Auckland. I dream of living in this area one day and each adventure North I find something new, endless exploring and so much fun. — Zoe
Fresh Kaiwaka - 1954 State Highway 1, Kaiwaka
Open Saturday & Monday
Found on the main road at the northern end of town, turn into the one way parking slip just opposite the cheese shop. All food is made by Anna and husband Mark is often found on the coffee. Good for straight up banter, all food made onsite (anyone remember when Mark and Anna had a spot in Mangawhai?) fantastic pies and dietary friendly options. Look for the lime green Fresh sign on the right towards the end of Kaiwaka.
Open all Labour weekend
A purpose built and very cute tiny house sits nestled in the main shops of Mangawhai, run by cake extrodinaire Louisa Lee. This tiny spot is open all Labour weekend for cakes to go, coffee on the way to the surf or even pre-order a cake for your group to share. Lots of alternative milk options, just don't forget your keep cup!
Little Red - 7 Cove Road, Waipu
Open all Labour weekend. Saturday & Sunday 7.30am – 2pm, Monday 7.30am – 12.30pm
A long standing Kōkako outpost, run by Jacqui who loves a good chat and makes a damn fine brew! A true local with the town support Jacqui will have you sorted for all forms of caffeination including Nitro on tap. Check out the engineering workshop next door selling all manner of amazing homewares and gifts, or the local trader in town looks pretty cool too.
Power Plant Wholefood and Organic Store - Shop 3 & 5, 37 - 41 Bank Street, Whangarei
Open Saturday 8.30 - 1.30, closed Sunday & Monday
A special site in Whangarei championing quality made in house vegan bites, 100% gluten-free food in-store (tell your coeliac friends) and a full cabinet or menu of tasty, healthy food. I had the carrot cake last week, still warm out of the oven, with a cashew milk (made on-site) flat white. Both divine! There’s also local Mamas Kombucha on tap and a great range of retail products.
Helena Bay Cafe & Gallery - On top of the Helena Bay Hill, look for the signs Recently voted Northland outstanding cafe of the year (well done guys!) Helena Bay Cafe, run by Janet and her team, is a fantastic stopping point if you’re heading to Russell, or just want to detour off the main highway North. Sip your coffee, (or beer, they’re licenced too) with relaxing views over the native bush to the ocean. Check out the gallery next door on your way out too!
Makana Confections — 504 Kerikeri Road, Kerikeri
Even if you don’t want to head right into Kerikeri this little stop off and refuel spot is only a minute from the highway. A well-presented cafe with all food made onsite, there’s a great cabinet, full menu or gelato freezer paired with Kōkako coffee. Something for everyone! Why not get a few boxes of chocolate for Christmas gifts while you’re here too?
Inlets — 49 Commerce Street, Kaitaia 0410
Open M - F 9-5 and Sat 9-1 (Sundays coming in December)
Named after a local surf break (ask them about where you can find it!) this sweet little coffee spot located inside the Rip Curl surf store has a wonderful team of Trina, Ebony, Aaliyah, and Ben working here and serving epic coffees. Serving Kōkako's Aotea Blend with oat, soy or dairy milk options.
Kai 2 Go 41 Beach Road, Kohukohu
If you're planning a trip up the West coast instead, check out Kai Iwi Lakes (magic) and Tane Mahuta (Lord of the forest, a very special Kauri tree) and wind your way North to catch the car ferry across from Rawene to Kohukohu. It’s a small and historically significant town which deserves your support. Turn left when you exit the car ferry and opposite the fire station, you’ll find Kai 2 Go. Locally owned and operated, with super friendly staff! The best fish n chips I’ve had in a long time and Kōkako Mahana Blend is on point!
Other non-coffee gems!
If you haven’t been to Matai Bay on Karikari peninsular, it’s like you are on a different planet when here (missing tropical islands anyone?) and so worth the 20-minute drive off the highway! A very historical Māori area, a hike up Mt Pukehe - it goes straight up but is so worth the view at the top. Head here for sunset!
Also worth visiting is the fish and chip shop in Mangonui, don’t go to the big touristy one (well, go if you want, but there’s another little shop next to the pub which in my opinion is way nicer to support!) You can't forget a trek to Ninety Mile Beach, Te Paki Sand Dunes and Cape Reinga. If you’re a camper like me, there are some great D.O.C campgrounds up here, there’s a wicked walk too called the Te Paki coastal track. Just make sure to bring heavy-duty bug spray - the mozzies here are huge and hungry!
On your way back towards Whangarei, pop into Hikurangi. There’s a great vintage store here, or go visit my family friend Keith who runs Grinter Glass — a cool spot where you can watch Keith's glass blowing in action! Soon the Hundertwasser Gallery will be open too, excited for what this will bring to the area!
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Northland is growing with lots of interesting things happening. There’s even a coffee farm in the hills above Doubtless Bay, or a 2-day coast to coast bike ride between Opua and Kawakawa.
I hope you can find your magic in Northland too!