The most perfect spot for energetic kids is The Herb Farm. You can relax after your meal in rural tranquility, and the kids can be let loose to explore the 14 themed gardens over two acres while you order that second coffee. They might even find some fairies, elves, and gnomes. This family-owned and -operated business has a beautiful café with indoor and outdoor seating, set among extensive grounds including herb gardens. The food is mostly local, free-range, and organic and draws heavily on the gardens – we love the creamy mushrooms with thyme, garlic, and rocket, or the halloumi and falafel burger, as well as the steak open sandwich with thyme and onion jam.
This cosy, dark pizza restaurant is almost an institution in Palmerston North – since 1988 Pompeii Pizza’s wood-fired gourmet pizza has been hand-rolled and fired to perfection. The best part for when you have children in tow, is they are given a small complimentary piece of dough to play with while waiting for their pizzas. They can have a go a stretching their own mini pizza, or make any shape they like – this is then whisked away, wood-fired, and returned to the child to eat straight away or keep for later. How’s that for personalised service! There is also a kid’s menu with a fuss-free pizza, fries, drink, and dessert.
Another long-popular haunt, Café Cuba does have savoury meal options but is better known for its incredible baked goods – most notably the chocolate silk cake, but there’s baked caramel cheesecake, raspberry white chocolate shortcake, lemon yoghurt cake, banoffee pie, and loads more, with many being gluten-free. The Havana coffee is top-notch too. So that you can relax while sampling all these goodies, they have books and toys for the kids, have a full children’s menu, and do a great fluffy too.With all this activity, the whole whānau will be demanding some fuel – and there’s no shortage of family-friendly dining in the Manawatū, where you can sample beautifully-cooked, often locally-sourced produce. The Herb Farm is great for wholesome organic food in a sprawling country garden setting. Pompeii Pizza will wow with its gourmet toppings and quality dough (with dough for kids to play with too). Café Cuba is famous for its sweet-treat-packed cabinet and coffee; Aqaba has lots of space and a great kids dinner menu. Mr Grumpy’s or Ocean Beach Eatery are two gems on Foxton Beach for great fish and chips.
Foxton Beach has two outstanding outfits where you can take the kids for a relaxing meal after hanging out on the sand and surf. Ocean Beach Eatery is 50m from Foxton Beach – head over to the lounge or garden bar for some beautifully fresh fish and chips, pizza, oysters, or mains, and a cold beer for the adults. They hold Sunday Sessions from 4-6 pm every week too, with live music adding to the vibe. Mr Grumpy’s Takeways is another Foxton Beach favourite with locals and visitors alike, with well-priced and delicious fish and chips, and great burgers that have fresh ingredients, perfectly cooked fish and crispy batter. Why not introduce the kids to some paua nuggets too.
Aqaba with its distinctive blue pillars with flaming braziers on top is perfect for a relaxed meal, with friendly staff and a lively atmosphere. Order the pork ribs with BBQ sauce and the cheesecake – you won’t be disappointed. There’s a great kids menu (that includes a sundae), lots of space for the kids to run around, and a box of toys to keep them entertained.