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EXCURSION: UP NORTH BY KELLY GIBNEY

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Photographs: David Straight

If you’ve been to one of the EHN x Golden Dawn lunches or suppers, you’ll know Kelly Gibney. When she asked us to collaborate on a lunch series late last year we were very keen to be involved – she has a particular eye and a way of putting things together that feel both perfect and uncontrived. As well has her work for Golden Dawn, she’s also mum to Bonnie and blogs at Bonnie Delicious. This Friday, she and her partner are opening a coffee container, the Little Red Coffee Shop, outside Blackshed, a converted engineering workshop in Waipu that the family bought a few months back. Who better to tell you where to eat up north this summer? SFG

Northland is my New Zealand. It always has been – when I lived overseas it was the beautiful beaches and wild landscape that I craved. We head north every chance we get, to Waipu where my in-laws live, to Mangawhai to visit friends or to Bland Bay where we holiday every Christmas.

You can’t mention good eating in Northland without mentioning the Pizza Barn in Waipu. It’s loud, fun, great value and perfect for groups. This is not a restaurant for pizza purists. These pies are piled high with toppings and embrace the more modern kiwi combinations of flavours. We love going for family lunches. They’ve got the best wine list for miles and this summer are expanding their operations to include a microbrewery on site. 2 Cove Road, Waipu.

I recently discovered Raw Milk Mangawhai. They have a sweet farmgate store that is freshly stocked with delicious raw milk and cream everyday at 9am. There are also free-range eggs, and a small selection of spray free vegetables available. Amazingly it all runs on an honesty box system. The prices are ridiculously reasonable. We buy enough to stock the freezer and keep us going for a while. I always buy their incredible cream with the intention of making my own butter but without fail it rapidly disappears into coffees and on porridge. Though not certified they farm their herd using organic practices.

I had thought I was one of those people who doesn’t like tomatoes until a few years ago I tasted those grown by the Tomato Man in Whangarei. He’s not actually called the Tomato Man: that’s just how we refer to him in our family. The honesty box stall runs outside his house. His tomatoes are incredible. 110 Mill Road, Whangarei.

If you find yourself in Whangarei with a rumbling belly do yourself a massive favour and pop into The Fat Camel. It is a true jewel in a town otherwise lacking inspiring offerings. This charming cafe takes inspiration from neighborhood cafes in Tel Aviv. The food is excellent – homemade dolmades and falafel in particular – and really good value. Next time I visit I’m trying their traditional mixed grill of chicken liver and heart. 71 Cameron Street, Whangarei.

And the Whangerei famers markets are a genuine growers market where you can grab all of your weekly needs. Spray free vegetables and fruit, local olive oil, meats and wonderful bread. The markets happen every Saturday morning –make sure you visit to grab some of the best that Northland has to offer. Water Street carpark, Whangarei.

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