Cafes

New Zealand’s Best Rural Cafes To Visit This Summer

By Natasha Van Der Laan
24th Nov 2022

Hand holding a big loaded burger.

Summer in New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a road trip (or several). And, a road trip wouldn’t be complete without stopping for a bite to eat at a quirky local. In fact, we’d argue some of our country’s best food can be found in unassuming cafes in small, relaxed towns. To help us uncover some of New Zealand’s best rural cafes, we’ve teamed up with MOST Juice. The go-to roadie refreshment is all about the goodness of nature—the juices are certified organic and lovingly crafted from New Zealand apples. We’ve rounded up the best rural cafes to visit this summer and—even better—you can enjoy a refreshing bottle of MOST at these hotspots. Load up the car and hit the road.

North Island

Fat Pigeon

Piopio

There’s a lot to love about Piopio’s Fat Pigeon cafe and the quirky name is just the beginning. Located south of Te Kuiti on SH3, the farm-style cafe is widely considered the best stopping point on the road to Taranaki. Take a break from driving and eat your way through the impressive cabinet fare. We’re talkin’ classic sausage rolls, chicken and brie toasties, spinach and feta filo, and veggie-stuffed kumara. Save room for a Kiwiana-as sweet treat with lamingtons, afghans, and ginger crunch on offer. 

Cafe Melbourne 

Thames

Heading to the Coromandel this summer? No roadie is complete without grabbing a bite to eat in Thames. Cafe Melbourne has you covered in style with the family-owned cafe endeavouring to bring Melbourne vibes to the humble township of Thames. The space opens to a cute, exposed brick arcade—somewhat like a Melb laneway. The service is exceptional and you’ll want to try everything on the seasonal menu. Our advice? Visit again on the way home.

The French Fig

Whitianga

The French Fig, or more simply ‘The Fig’, is a must-visit in Whitianga. Located a hop, step, and jump from the beach, the cafe offers indoor and alfresco seating. The all-day menu stars the usual suspects: eggs bene, creamy mushroom, smashed avo, and French toast made with orange vanilla brioche and served with summer fruits. The cabinet is also brimming with vibrant salads and mouth-watering baked goodies. You’ll find yourself visiting daily while you’re in town.

PBC Cafe

Gisborne

For a bit of *chef’s kiss* tastiness in Gisborne, look no further than PBC Cafe. The cafe is housed in a beautiful historic building with the option to eat inside or out. If you’re visiting for brekkie, choose between the likes of the ‘big kahuna’ breakfast, banana bacon pancakes, and their famed potato ‘jumble’ starring curry-fried onions with smashed potatoes, haloumi, and poached eggs. Cleanse your palate and pair it with a revitalising bottle of MOST Juice apple orange and mango—it’s the perfect way to kick-start your day.

The Dept

New Plymouth

All cravings are catered for at The Dept. The much-loved New Plymouth eatery has a seemingly endless menu with omelettes, bagels, waffles, toasted sammies, burgers, and salads. There’s also a great selection of keto, vegetarian, and vegan meals. And, because the friendly cafe isn’t one to do things by halves, they’ve also got delectable cabinet meals and slices as well as a kid’s menu. Is there anything The Dept can’t do?!

Beach Babylon

Wellington

Located on Oriental Parade in the country’s capital, Beach Babylon doesn’t entirely meet the definition of rural. Technicalities aside, this retro beachside cafe is worth a visit this summer. Open from sunrise to sunset, the quirky spot has extensive (and delicious) brunch, lunch, and dinner menus. Bring your canine friend along as there’s a dedicated dog menu that includes a pup-friendly platter and doggoccinos—too cute!

South Island

Pancake Rocks Cafe

Punakaiki

No visit to the Pancake Rocks is complete without pancakes (of the edible kind). So, when visiting the famed Punakaiki Rocks this summer, head across the road to Pancake Rocks Cafe. Their unmissable pancake stacks are served with your choice of streaky bacon, berries and cream, chocolate, M&Ms, or a savoury number with all the trimmings. The stone-oven pizzas are also a must-try, including one topped with West Coast whitebait, beaten egg, and mozzarella on a cream cheese base. When in Rome on the West Coast, right?

Olivers Victoria Store

Clyde

Everyone who’s anyone knows Olivers. The hub of historic buildings is where you’ll find boutique accommodation alongside a cafe, brewery, and award-winning restaurant. The cafe’s sun-drenched courtyard is the ideal spot to savour a freshly baked pastry and a refreshing MOST Juice (we recommend the apple & fejoa) before heading off on the Otago Rail Trail. If you don’t need to get on yer bike, sit back and check out the deliciousness across the brunch menu.

The Store

Kekerengu

Conveniently located halfway between Blenheim and Kaikoura, The Store is the perfect pit stop on your southbound roadie. Choose to stay for a while and set up HQ at their humble beachfront campground (and be sure to wake for sunrise), or simply enjoy a leisurely lunch before hitting the road again. The cafe has faves including smoked salmon bagels, bacon eggs bene, fish and chips, and a famed seafood chowder.

Balls And Bangles

Queenstown

If you’re anything like us, chances are you’ve got a low-key obsession with doughnuts. Make sure Balls And Bangles is on your radar when eating your way around Queenstown. Their doughnuts are for serious connoisseurs with the likes of salted caramel brownie, bacon waffle, pecan pie, and a gram-worthy ‘glitter bomb’ doughnut loaded with candy, cream, and the all-important fairy dust. If savoury is more your jam, check out their equally impressive loaded bagels. 

Wherever you head on your summer adventures, enjoy a delicious bottle of MOST Juice. The thirst-quenching range celebrates the power of nature and is certified organic with no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours—we’ll drink to that!

Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by MOST Juice and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

Image credit: Balls & Bangles via Instagram, The Dept via Instagram, The French Fig via Instagram

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