Spring Getaway: The Food, Bay-Of-Islands style

If you know me in real life you’ll know that I’m a total foodie, especially on holiday! I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure how this would work when going on holiday with a little dude. There was certainly no chance of waking up at 9, enjoying a leisurely brunch, a late lunch and dinner after dusk! We had to plan a little bit more than we usually would; while breakfasts at home gave us a little bit of leeway, we had to make sure we were at our destinations at CJ’s meal times or life was not worth living (kidding, a little). While we were a little apprehensive about having him out for so many meals in a short space of time, he handled it like a pro. Something in him must have been able to sense that we were playing by holiday rules and the usual routines didn’t apply!


Check out this guy chilling out at Alongside Bar!

Some of the foodie highlights were:

The Black Olive 

OK, technically we didn’t eat there – we got take out! It’s become somewhat of a tradition to eat at The Black Olive restaurant the first night we arrive in the Bay of Islands. Quite frankly though, after traveling all day with an infant – and it did turn out to be ALL day – we were more in the mood for flopping down on the sofa at our accommodation in our comfy pants. The take out offerings did not disappoint, with pizza rivaling more infamous Auckland pizza establishments.

Read my full review of it here.

Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack

I can’t say that this had been high on our list in previous visits but it seemed an ideal place to try our first holiday dinner outing. Large servings and meat dripping in sauce are the order of the day – NOT the place to go if you are a vegetarian or vegan – and the perfect rowdy venue in which to take a mildly disgruntled eight-month-old. The service was swift even with the restaurant at almost peak capacity – something that parents with kids will be extremely pleased about.

Read my full review of it here.

The Duke of Marlborough Hotel

Surprisingly friendly, the Duke experience was only soured a little by the waiter to whom we had to repeat our requests multiple times. The rest of the staff there are absolutely delightful, however, so don’t let that put you off. The kumara bread was a fantastic mid-afternoon snack and gladly devoured by all three of us.

Read my full review of it here.

Alongside Bar

We’ve been long-time fans of their sister restaurant, 35 Degrees South, for a long time. This place is relatively new so didn’t pop up in my research; it was a serendipitous find on our walk post-Rib Shack. We decided to return for lunch the following day and I am glad we did! Operating out of the same kitchen as 35 Degrees South, they offer a more laid back open-air dining experience with gastropub-style food that still has the attention to detail that is a signature of 35 Degrees South. Seating was plentiful and we chose an outdoor sectional couch, handy as CJ could sit in his stroller and be at the same height. While we didn’t order from the children’s menu, it looked AMAZING – so many more options than the traditional chicken nuggets and chips. My particular favorite was the $12 build-your-own kids meal:

Chicken Strips, Mini Scotch Fillet or Crispy Fish (pan-fried or battered)

ADD Salad or Steamed Vegetables

WITH a choice of Fries or Mashed Potatoes

I’d definitely rather pay a little bit of a premium to get quality ingredients! I had a delicious shredded duck po’boy while Papa M enjoyed a beetroot salad and then we both shared a naughty but delicious plate of gourmet potato skins – yum! We had to shoot off to catch the ferry but could quite easily see ourselves spending hours there; being right on the water meant that there was plenty happening to keep CJ occupied!

Read my full review of Alongside here.

Our three top tips for dining out with infants in the Bay of Islands?

  1. Don’t assume that restaurants are going to be quieter if you head out earlier. We were surprised by how busy some restaurants were between 5-7; that sea air must make people hungry!
  2. Keep your eyes peeled for markets and street festivals as meal options – we came across two on our holiday – as they are often cheap and family-friendly places to eat
  3. Almost all restaurants in holiday destinations are accepting of their littlest patrons so don’t be afraid to pop in and give it a try!

If you’ve got some Far North favorite restaurants, I’d love to hear about them!

SweetMama Signature


11 thoughts on “Spring Getaway: The Food, Bay-Of-Islands style

  1. Loved this!

    And you’re right, that kids menu sounds *brilliant*! So awesome to see an establishment recognise that just because they’re little, doesn’t mean they need to be served slop…

  2. The Black Olive is so delicious! I’ve only been there once, about 5 years ago but always remember it – good to hear it’s still yum!

  3. Sounds like an awesome holiday! We always made it a point to eat out often with our children – we didn’t want to be ‘that’ family in a restaurant, and the only way to combat that is to practice! Sounds like CJ loves it. 🙂

  4. We actually own a takeaway in Haruru Falls so I’m quite well versed in Bay of Islands restaurants and eateries.
    I personally think that Avo Sushi is the best sushi in the north and the King Wah Restaurant in Paihia is the best Chinese around. They do a buffet that is totally worth the price and their garlic bread is absolutely fantastic.

    • We’ll have to visit you next time! We did walk past King Wah and it smelt amazing – might have to put it on the list for next time.

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