Unusual Café Guide

Have a cup of coffee or tea in a cafe with character. There are 37 unusual cafes listed, we have included cafes that are unusual because of the way they are built, eg. Cafe Eutopia, Kaiwaka; they are themed eg. Mainline Station Cafe, Domett or they have interesting attractions additional to the cafe itself, eg. L'Arte, Taupo.

If you have any suggestions for cafes to add, feel free to email us. (Updated: March 2019)

What's New? Living Water Bush Cafe, Waioeka Gorge

North Island Regions

South Island Regions

North Island

Madhatters Donna's Cafe, 17 Leigh Street

There's a neat little mother and daughters enterprise on the main street in Kaeo - Madhatters Donna's Cafe, DROFnROC clothing boutique and Hair on Earth Salon. Madhatters Cafe is bright blue and has pink and white umbrellas on the deck and a big rainbow coloured chair in front so you can't miss it. There are Alice in Wonderland touches inside including an Alice jig saw, a top hat made from ties and a small tea pot collection. Alice's open egg burger and Donna's truck and trailer (I'm guessing that's a big breakfast) are on the menu or there are pies and sweet treats in the cabinet. Call in to Kaeo for a cup of tea, 'it's always tea-time' according to the Mad Hatter.

Madhatters Cafe, Kaeo
Madhatters Cafe, Kaeo

Eutopia Café, corner State Highway 1 & Oneriri Road
eutopia.nz and Eutopia Cafe on Facebook

Eutopia Café reopened in April 2019 after a major refurbishment, check out the website to see it in all its glory. Closed Mondays, open Tuesday to Sunday 7.30am - 4pm. (Note: The photos below were taken prior to the refurbishment).

Cafe Eutopia
Cafe Eutopia
Cafe Eutopia


Cakes n Ladders Board Game Cafe, 173 Symonds Street

Cakes n Ladders Board Game Cafe was partially crowd funded via Kickstarter, funds were used to fill the shelves with board games. The shelves are helpfully labelled as adults only, family games etc to help you choose what to play, and there's a list of games on the website. We chose a trivia game called Fact or Crap, who knew - Singer Bono of U2 took his name from a billboard advertisement for a hearing aid retailer; Ancient Greeks buried eggs with their dead; A mouse mile measures computer mouse activity.

Shelves of games at Cakes n Ladders
Cakes n Ladders
Cakes n Ladders

It costs $2.50 per person per hour to play the games. The cafe is light and bright, has wooden floors and colourful rugs, and plenty of seating for groups and families. There's a short menu that includes cup cakes, slices and cookies. Cakes n Ladders is open 1pm -10pm Wednesday - Friday, 10am - 10pm Saturday and Sunday.

Bethells Cafe

Bethells Cafe, Te Henga/Bethells Beach (approximately 30kms north west of Auckland city)
If you're looking for some wild West Coast surf you will find it at Te Henga / Bethells Beach. Life guards were on duty the day we visited and it was just as well, the sea swells were mighty. There is an estuary that feeds into the surf that is safe for children to paddle around in. If you get hungry trek across the hot black sand to Bethells Cafe for a West Coast burger, wood fired pizza or a donut.

Bugger Cafe, 1492 State Highway 25, Pipiroa


We were towing the caravan when I asked Mike to do a u-turn so we could go to Bugger Cafe, I've got to say he said a bit more than bugger :). We'd just had breakfast so I only got a flat white to go but the food looked scrumptious. The owners of Bugger Cafe want everyone to laugh more, it's easy to do when looking at the photos of 'bugger moments' in the cafe, they share some on Facebook too. It's a good cafe stop to make if you're travelling between Auckland and Coromandel, definitely worth the u-turn. Open 7 days, 8am - 5pm.

Bugger Cafe
Bugger T-Shirt

Waihi Beach
Secret Garden, 17 Wilson Road, Waihi Beach

It's not often I open a door and find myself transported into another world but that's what happened when I opened the door to Secret Garden. We relaxed in a Balinese style hut but you can also pull up a cushion at a low table on the lawn. Tropical flowers and plants blend in with garden ornaments and it's a peaceful escape in a village that's already blessed with a great beach on its door step. Call in for a coffee, smoothie or a snack. (Secret Garden is usually closed in winter, check link above to confirm).

Secret Garden
Secret Garden
Secret Garden
Secret Garden

Mount Maunganui
Avgas Cafe & Bar, 9 Jean Batten Drive, Mount Maunganui

Avgas Cafe & Bar is an aviation themed cafe located next to the Aviation Museum. Model vintage planes hang from the ceiling, archival aviation and classic aircraft footage is on screen, and there's a plane for the kids to pilot in the outdoor play area. The cafe is open 7 days from 7am - 4pm, open late on Friday night.

Avgas Cafe
Tea and a jet plane at Avgas Cafe
Kids Plane, Avgas Cafe

If you'd like to go up in the air, book a flight in one of the biplanes or soar through the sky in a glider. If you'd prefer to keep your feet on the ground you can buy a model plane from The Bunker gift shop.

Biplane Classic Flyers
Lunch at Avgas Cafe

Avgas Cafe

Zealong Tea Estate, 495 Gordonton Road

Zealong Tea Estate is home to New Zealand's only tea plantation. The onsite restaurant serves lunch and high tea as well as five flavours of Zealong tea. If you're keen to learn more about the tea and the history of Zealong guided tours are an option. It's especially nice to sit outside overlooking the rows of tea plants, we also recommend high tea - High Tea at Zealong Tea Estate via thecuriouskiwi/blog. Open Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm. Closed public holidays.

Signature High Tea at Zealong
Zealong Tea Estate
Tea at Zealong Tea Estate

Jukebox Diner, 11 Railside Place, Dinsdale

Flashback to the 50's at the American themed Jukebox Diner with its bright red booths and Chevrolet condiment counter. We stopped in for burgers and a browse through the NZ Hot Rod magazines. If you like classic cars and automobilia you can visit the adjoining Classics Museum - we wrote about some of the more unusual vehicles on display via thecuriouskiwi/blog. You could also time your visit for the Classic Car meet on the first Sunday of the month.

Burgers at the Jukebox Diner
Booth at the Jukebox Diner
Chevy Condiment Counter at the Jukebox Diner

Raglan area
Te Uku Roast Office, 3438 State Highway 23

The old Te Uku Post Office has been turned into Te Uku Roast Office, it's open from 6am to serve coffee to commuters doing the Raglan to Hamilton run. There is a small selection of food, but it's essentially a coffee stop with a small art gallery attached. The gallery is a fitting tribute to Ernest Moon, a former Te Uku Post Office Post Master and artist who didn't have the use of his hands so learned to paint with his feet.

Te Uku Roast Office
Raglan Roast
Raglan Roast Logo

We like the art work that is Raglan Roast's Raglan centric logo - a coat of arms featuring a Maori warrior with a surf board, and a coffee cup. Raglan Roast also brews coffee in Raglan, Hamilton, Gisborne, Wellington and Nelson.

Bugger Cafe, 29 Main Road, Tirau

The second Bugger Cafe opened in Tirau in April 2015 and it's become a regular stop when we drive from Rotorua to Auckland. The cafe is spacious and has plenty of windows so it's light and bright, there's also seating on the deck for sunny days. We like the stylish fit out, the friendly staff and ofcourse the 'bugger moments' around the cafe. Big bugger and little bugger sausage rolls, carrot cake and coffee are popular choices for our quick lunch stops.

Bugger Cafe Tirau
Bugger Cafe Tirau
Bugger Cafe Tirau
Bugger Cafe Tirau

Waioeka Gorge
Living Water Bush Cafe, Waioeka Gorge (highway between Opotiki & Gisborne)

Look out for the Tip Top flags near Manganuku Campsite in the Waioeka Gorge and pull in for a coffee or a Tip Top ice cream from the cute little coffee caravan that is Living Water Bush Cafe. The caravan is parked in a lovely spot on the banks of the Opato Stream, there's accommodation as well if you're tempted to spend the night.

Living Water Bush Cafe
Living Water Bush Cafe

Abracadabra Cafe & Bar, 1263 Amohia Street

The rustic and bohemian style at Abracadabra make it one of Rotorua's most unusual cafes. Brunch is served from 10.30am Tuesday to Sunday and brunch staples include generous servings of creamy mushrooms on ciabatta ($15.50), and bacon and eggs ($16.50). Take a seat under the Morroccan style lighting in the main dining area, streetside on the black and white verandah, in one of the colourful small rooms, or head out the back to the rustic bar (ideal for groups).

Abracadabra Blue Room

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe, 1210 Arawa Street

Fancy Meow Cat Cafe is home to fancy cat breeds like Ragdolls and a Bengal. It's more about cats at Fancy Meow than cafe fare but the admission includes a hot or cold drink. No fresh food is available onsite but there are a few packaged snacks. See Fancy Meow Cat Cafe via thecuriouskiwi/blog for more information.

Also see the Rotorua Cafe Guide, it highlights some of the unusual aspects of Rotorua cafes.

L'Arte Cafe & Gallery, 255 Mapara Road, Acacia Bay

Visit L'Arte for breakfast, lunch or a glass of wine and an antipasto platter. We chose lunch from the cabinet but you can order breakfast and lunch from the menu. If you like mosaic art you will love L'Arte's outdoor mosaic living room.

L'Arte Cafe - outdoor mosaic living area
L'Arte Cafe - outdoor mosaic living area
L'Arte Cafe - outdoor mosaic living area

Follow the mosaic path to the small onsite gallery selling art work created by New Zealand artists. L'Arte is about 20 minutes drive from Taupo town centre, we think it's well worth the detour for the excellent food and inspiring art work.

Lunch at L'Arte Cafe
L'Arte Cafe - mosaic counter
Lunch at L'Arte Cafe

Storehouse Waffles

Storehouse, 14 Runanga Street, Taupo Central

If you like a reuse and recycle vibe with your coffee and are looking for somewhere a bit different to dine, you'll find Storehouse on Runanga Street, a little off the beaten track in an industrial part of town.

New Plymouth

The Federal Store - Cafe & Deli, 440 Devon Street East

My first visit to The Federal Store was during the WOMAD Festival and it was packed to bursting. Returning to New Plymouth a few months later, we found the cafe just as popular on a sunny Sunday afternoon when we called in for coffee and cake. There are touches of the 50's throughout like the vintage style aprons and head scarves worn by some of the staff, a Tip Top mural, and paper bunting. Foxton Fizz and thick shakes are on the drinks menu and there's a cabinet full of tempting cakes. The Federal Store is a little out of the action on Devon Street East but worth the drive.

The Federal Store Cafe
The Federal Store Cafe
The Federal Store Cafe treats

Deluxe Diner

Deluxe Diner, 36 Leach Street
We had breakfast at the American themed Deluxe Diner - see thecuriouskiwi/blog - Back to the 50's in New Plymouth.

Mr Badger's Cafe, Tawhiti Museum, 401 Ohangai Road

Mr Badger's Cafe is at the Tawhiti Museum in Hawera. The cafe is named after 'The Wind in the Willows' character, and Mr Badger himself reclines by the fireplace in the cafe. Small scale models of scenes from 'The Wind in the Willows' are just inside the cafe door, and figgy nut slice might be in the cafe cabinet. It's well worth visiting Tawhiti Museum to see the visual history of the Taranaki area, what Nigel Ogle has created is amazing.

Mr Badgers Cafe
Mr Badgers Cafe
Mr Badgers Cafe

Boat Cafe, Freyberg Lagoon, Oriental Parade, city

Boat Cafe floats in Freyberg Lagoon, I spent a cold March morning drinking coffee and eating a muffin while watching and waiting for the weather to clear. They had a pile of FishHead magazines to keep me company, and a fire to keep me warm. I'm always a fan of cafes that provide something to read with my coffee, even better when what I'm reading tells me about what's happening in their city. (RIP FishHead magazine, Capital magazine filled the gap and it can be read online and in print). The Boat Cafe is open 7 days.

Boat Cafe, Wellington
Boat Cafe
Boat Cafe

Stories Espresso Bar, Wellington

Stories Espresso Bar, 40A Cuba Street, city

Stories Espresso Bar was set up by Zeal Education Trust to provide employment and work experience for young baristas. Coffee and sweet treats are sold from the converted shipping container on lower Cuba Street. (For more information see thecuriouskiwi/blog - Drinking for good in Wellington).

Maranui Cafe, The Parade, Lyall Bay

The Maranui Cafe shares a building with the Maranui Surf Life Saving Club. In 2009 the building was gutted by fire and faced permanent closure, however community support helped get the cafe and the SLSC up and running again. The cafe is a colourful mix of retro style and an ocean theme to match its beachfront location in Lyall Bay.

Maranui Cafe
Maranui Cafe
Maranui Cafe View

The cafe is upstairs and looks over the water to Wellington airport, we saw five planes land in the time it took us to drink two bottles of Foxton Fizz. Open 7 days, 7am - 5pm. (Note: As the cafe is upstairs and in a character building there is no easy access for wheel chairs).

South Island


Lambretta's Cafe - Bar, 204 Hardy Street

Lambretta's Cafe is a tribute to the Italian made Lambretta motor scooter. On the food front, a Moped vegan pizza is $25 and Lambretta's Muesli is $16. The barista is kept busy pumping out coffee to the many customers who sit outside in the sun or inside at one of the many tables. You can jump start your day at home with Lambretta's own blend - Ignition coffee.

Lambretta's Cafe, Nelson
Lambretta's Cafe, Nelson
Lambretta's Cafe, Nelson

Jester House Cafe, 320 Aporo Road (within 10km of Mapua)

Jester House Cafe has something to keep all the family entertained, there's a giant chess set, hungry (and friendly) eels in the stream (September - May) and sculptures in the garden. We had a platter for two, other options include seafood chowder and three cheese souffle.

Jester House
Jester House Platter
Jester House
Jester House

The cafe focuses more on meals than snacks however you could call in for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. The cafe is licensed and locally brewed beer and wine is served, I liked the Mussel Inn Ginger Bear. If you have ever wondered how a composting toilet works you can find out at Jester House.

Upper Moutere
Riverside Cafe (part of Riverside Community), Inland Moutere Highway, (5 minutes south of Motueka)

If you're interested in learning about co-operative and sustainable community living, visiting Riverside Cafe is a good place to start. The Community make many of the items on the cafe menu and use their own as well as local ingredients. Jams, pickles, plants and homespun wool are also sold. Fair trade coffee and Riverside juice is served, and vegans, vegetarians and those requiring gluten free dishes are catered for.

Riverside Cafe
Riverside Cafe
Riverside Cafe
Riverside Cafe

Work by local artists is on display and you can dine in the lovely garden or inside. If you would like to extend your stay at Riverside there is accommodation onsite and Wwoofing may be an option. Visit Facebook to check hours, the cafe may close for a time over winter.


Pirate Espresso, Port Tarakohe (10 minutes drive from Takaka)
Thanks for the memories Physalie - Pirate Espresso floats no more, just the photos remain......

Pirate Espresso
Pirate Espresso
Pirate Espresso

Flossie's, Aylmer Street (look out for the sign opposite the i-SITE). Note: The last post on Flossie's Facebook page was December 2017 so it may not still be operating.

I'm not sure what it means to do something in West Coast style but I suspect Flossie's may be a good example. Want a cafe in your backyard? Easy as - put a sign out on the road, cobble together a collection of seats, and go into the kitchen and bake a tart or two. Welcome visitors into your abundant garden with its decaying piece of Kiwiana, put the jug on, and you're set.

Bush bath
Flossie's Cafe
Flossie's Cafe
Visitors looking for espresso coffee and well manicured gardens may be better served elsewhere, but if a cup of tea, a piece of tasty tart and a travel tip will keep you happy, then call in to Flossie's and see Marcus. I second Marcus's tip of taking your shoes off and walking down the beach in nearby Okarito. Flossie's will be open when the sign is out, the menu, like the backyard, is subject to growth and change.

Mainline Station Cafe, corner Main Road & Old Main Road (SH1 between Christchurch and Kaikoura)

Mainline Station Cafe is currently closed for repairs - visit the website link above for updates.

In 1982 Domett Railway Station was tendered for removal, it spent the next 14 or so years as a farm storage shed. A six month restoration enabled it to open as Mainline Station Cafe in 1996. NZ Railways memorabilia decorates the cafe, including menus from the days when a Great Railway Pie with potato and salad would set you back $6, and a cup of tea $1.10. If you're a Kiwi old enough to remember your mother collecting souvenir teaspoons you might recognise some of the NZ Railways inspired collection.

Mainline Station Cafe
Mainline Station Cafe
Mainline Station Cafe
Mainline Station Cafe

In the past we might have been served our tea in the practically unbreakable NZ Railways cups and saucers, however they're collectors' items these days. There are a few cafes in the area so you won't go hungry however the owners of Mainline Station Cafe are chefs so it's a tasty pit stop to make. We always eat here when we travel from Christchurch to Kaikoura and have never been disappointed, there's morning/afternoon tea treats as well as more substantial meals on the menu.

Mainline Station
Morning tea at Mainline Station Cafe
Mainline Station Spoon Collection


C1 Espresso, 185 High Street

There are some quirky features at C1 Espresso including a Singer sewing machine water dispenser, and bookshelf door. They also have a high speed delivery system for burgers - see Super speedy dinner delivery via thecuriouskiwi/blog. There's a garden out the front for the chefs and the cafe's doing its bit for the bees with rooftop hives. C1 is a big cafe with plenty of seating, if you're keen to see a movie you'll find Alice next door.

C1 Espresso
C1 Espresso
C1 Espresso

The Artist's Palate cafe, 68 Rue Balguerie

The Artist's Palate cafe is at The Giant's House B&B in Akaroa and is open during summer only. A sensational attraction at The Giant's House is the landscaped garden that incorporates life size and larger mosaic creations and sculptures. The mosaic project began when owner of the property, artist Josie Martin, started digging a garden. Josie dug up buried china and saved it as part of the history of the property, she decided to start mosaicing the front step, then the floor of the conservatory ... until the work of art it is today. The garden can be visited year round.

Mosaic Garden
Mosaic Garden
Mosaic Garden

Lake Tekapo
Astro Cafe, Godley Peaks Road

During the day you can drive up the road to Astro Cafe, the cafe sits on the summit of Mount John, 300 metres above Lake Tekapo and Mackenzie Basin. The cafe has a glass roof and walls to make the most of the view day and night, at night Observatory Tours are offered. It's also possible to walk to the summit - see thecuriouskiwi/blog - A short, steep climb to Astro Cafe, Lake Tekapo.

View from Astro Cafe
Astro Cafe
View from Astro Cafe

The Shearer's Quarters, 932 Seadown Road

The former owners of The Shearer's Quarters had the idea to turn their little used farm buildings into a cafe and gift shop. Judging by the number of cars and visitors that were at the cafe when we visited their idea has turned into a great success. The cafe and gift shop are housed in a former grain solo, woolshed, and shearer's quarters. The sheep yards and paddocks have been converted into homes for pigs, goats and alpacas. You can also tee off (gently) on the mini golf course. The Shearers' Quarters is a great family friendly cafe located ten minutes north of Timaru. If you are travelling south from Temuka, turn off around 2km down SH1 into Arowhenua Station Road and then turn into Seadown Road.

Shearers Quarters
Shearers Quarters
Shearers Quarters

The Musterer's Hut, 20 Ruataniwha Road

The Musterer's Hut sell a popular South Island creation - the cheese roll. The cafe has some unique Kiwi country and retro touches - corrugated iron counters, old wool presses for tables, a Kiwi "Baa", and crochet rugs on retro chairs. My favourite retro pieces are the old glass milk bottles in crates for those who want water at their table. The Musterer's Hut is a casual, family friendly cafe with an outdoor mini golf course, playground and gift shop. The gift shop has a collection of books written by local authors.

Musterers Hut
Musterers Hut Mini Golf
Musterers Hut
Musterers Hut

Whitestone Cheese, Corner Torridge & Humber Streets

We gobbled up a tasting plate of six Whitestone cheeses at the factory shop, cheese is also sold from the little Whitestone Cheese caravan at the Oamaru Famers Market on Sundays. Those interested in the cheesemaking process can take a guided tour and tasting. See the FAQ section to find the answers to lots of cheese related questions.

Whitestone Cheese caravan at the Oamaru Farmers Market
Whitestone Cheese Platter
Whitestone Cheese

Grain & Seed Cafe, Cromwell Heritage Precinct

The original Cromwell town centre, homes, farms and orchards were intentionally flooded to make way for Clyde Dam. Fortunately, many historic buildings from the town centre were disassembled and put back together on the site that is now Cromwell Heritage Precinct (formerly Old Cromwell Town). It's worth stopping in Cromwell to walk around the area, artists sell their work from some of the old buildings and Grain and Seed Cafe in the old grain store is a good place to stop for refreshments. (For more information about Cromwell Heritage Precinct see thecuriouskiwi/blog - The town that drowned).

Grain & Seed Cafe
Grain & Seed Cafe
Grain & Seed Cafe

Dunedin Chinese Garden, corner of Rattray & Cumberland Streets (next to Otago Settlers Museum)

The Dunedin Chinese Garden opened in 2008, it was built to acknowledge the contribution that Chinese settlers have made to Dunedin and Otago. 'Lan Yuan' is the Chinese name for the garden and it was designed and built in the style of a Scholar's Garden. No nails were used to build the wooden structures, instead the method of mortise and tenon joints was used, this method has been used in China since the fourth century BC. All of the wooden structures were built in Shanghai and shipped to Dunedin, workmen and support staff came from Shanghai to help with the Garden's construction.

Dunedin Chinese Garden
Dunedin Chinese Garden
Dunedin Chinese Garden
Dunedin Chinese Garden

The Garden is a peaceful setting to enjoy a cup of tea and a Chinese board game, if I was a resident I'd buy a 12 month pass. The tea shop menu isn't large but items include traditional Chinese buns and fortune cookies. Admission to the garden is $9.50 adults, children under 13 free. Audio tours - free. Open 7 days. The Garden hosts a Moon Festival each September, visit Facebook for more information. (A blog post about Dunedin Chinese Garden).

Otoko Espresso, Haast (check Facebook incase it's on the move)

Look out for an eye catching orange Land Rover with the Otoko Espresso tin hut in tow in Haast township between 11am and 3pm most days over summer. Otoko Espresso is a tribute from a daughter to her father, a passionate hunter who passed away in 2008. Ron (also known as the Bear) spent many years hunting, Otoko was one of his favourite hunting areas, hence the name. The hut is a replica of the type he would have stayed in. Ron certainly wouldn't have brewed coffee the same way as his daughter Robyn, and I don't know what he thought of flat whites and lattes, but I'm sure the aged venison burgers on the menu would've got the thumbs up.

Otoko Espresso
Otoko Espresso Whitebait Pattie

We were a couple of months too early for a venison burger, and a few minutes too late for a latte, but right on time for a whitebait pattie. And what better place to try a pattie than at Otoko Espresso in Haast - the whitebait capital of NZ (or is that the world? I think the locals are keen for either to catch on). The pattie was big, tastefully fishy and packed full of the delicacy that Robyn said usually fetches an average of $40-$50 a kilogram. Swap Robyn $10 for a whitebait pattie.

The Grille Cafe, Bill Richardson Transport World, 491 Tay Street

The Grille Cafe at Transport World has lots of vehicle themed touches - number plates are used as light fittings and table numbers, a 44 gallon drum is a water dispenser, and old grills hang above the bar. There's a front end of a Mack truck behind closed doors for children to play in, and fans of the 1950's can sit inside a pastel coloured kitchen complete with appliances.

1950s Kitchen at Grille Cafe, Invercargill
The Grille Cafe, Invercargill
Check out the pretty toilets at Transport World

There were more than 20 breakfast and lunch dishes to choose from when we visited as well as sweet treats in the cabinet. It's not often I'd recommend people visit the toilets, but both guys and girls will be pleasantly surprised with what they'll find. Open 7 days. (Blog post about our visit to Bill Richardson Transport World).

Comments to date: 4. Page 1 of 1.


Thanks Mark, will do, it looks like there are lots of interesting things to see inside.


Next time you are down south Rachael, check out my friend, Maryr's , Cafe Primo in Methven.


Thanks Dennis, amended accordingly.


Climbing wall is going again at Hep Set Mooch

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