School holidays are here, so plans need to be made. Eating out with your kids always sounds like such a nice idea - the pleasure of not having to have to cook and clean, combined with the bonding experience eating around the table.
But if a restaurant isn't set up for children, the fun can turn into a nightmare - as much for your family as for other diners.
These days, a discounted menu of chicken nuggets and fries is no longer enough to call a venue "kid-friendly". The most family-friendly restaurants take into consideration healthy food for fussy palates, space to burn off energy and a welcoming attitude towards kids.
Here are our pick of three great eateries that offer way more than just a kid's menu.
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Burn off the sugar rush in west Auckland
Many restaurants may claim to be great for kids, but The Grounds puts its money where its mouth is, with a huge outdoor playground right beside the dining area. The Grounds is the on-site restaurant at West Auckland's Woah! Studios, known for its epic outdoor playground featuring a huge hand-crocheted net for climbing, tumbling and swinging.
Each Sunday this autumn, for just $28 sit down to dinner with a warming bowl of pasta (the pasta is handmade fresh each day, and the menu includes mussel and creme fraiche tagliatelle, and a goat ragu pappardelle, plus vegetarian and vegan options) plus a bottle of Peroni. Kids' mains are $12 each, and once dessert hits their bloodstream, you can keep an eye on them from the comfort of your table. Dinner service Thursday to Sunday, 4pm-8pm. thegrounds.co.nz
Go free range in Hawke's Bay
Bring the kids, bring the dog, bring the whole family. At GodsOwn, a craft brewery in Maraekakaho, Hawke's Bay, they cater to everyone. There's an extensive playground and toys for the kids, a range of seasonal beers (including 0% options) and a menu that includes wood-fired pizzas and platters (including a kids' platter delivered quick smart – nice touch). The bar is in a caravan, the dining room in a safari tent, but the massive outdoor space that offers plenty of sun and shade (under a canopy of hops) is where you'll want to sit if the weather's behaving.
Top your own pizza in Wellington
A Wellington family favourite, One Red Dog offers not just a kid-friendly menu, but an opportunity for kids to build their own personalised pizza at the table. Order the "make your own" and the toppings will be brought to the table for children to select and scatter on exactly what they want to eat. The parking is easy, the menu has some decent craft beer options, and it's right on the waterfront with great harboaur views and a sun-drenched courtyard for the right weather. onereddog.co.nz