With New Zealand's borders firmly closed to the outside world due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, residents have had no choice but to explore their own backyards.
It's fortunate then that Northland is such a diverse region so when it comes to exploring food there is no need to leave our shores anyway.
There are loads of authentic ethnic eateries scattered around the area offering easy access to the world's best cuisines.
The Northern Advocate has tracked down eight of the most delicious international cafes and restaurants to celebrate this diversity.
The Restaurant Association of New Zealand, which runs the annual Northland Hospitality Awards, reckons we are spoiled for choice.
Chief executive Marisa Bidois said Northland is home to some of the country's best produce which is expertly prepared and served by its dining establishments.
She encouraged residents to treat themselves to a meal and try something new.
"Our industry has had an incredibly challenging year so it's now even more important that we take time out to recognise those people who showcase our incredible produce and welcome us into their establishments."
Mean's Vietnamese Café
The owner of Mean's Vietnamese Café, Mean Ear, is proud of his eatery that serves up, among other traditional dishes, beautiful pho with the freshest broth.
Ear was born in Cambodia, as was his mum, and his dad is from Vietnam.
He opened the family restaurant on Rathbone St in 2015 and it has become a popular destination for locals and visitors serving up everything from fresh summer rolls to chargrilled skewers and banh mi, a Vietnamese baguette.
The entire menu reflects centuries of family cooking, offering traditional and innovative dishes all cooked with skill and care.
Mean's was this year's Northland Hospitality award winner for outstanding ethnic restaurant.
13 Rathbone St, Whangārei
Frog and Kiwi
Offering a little bit of France in Mangawhai, the Frog and Kiwi boasts classic and seasonal menus filled with mouth-watering dishes and desserts like French onion soup, crepes, crème brulee and profiteroles.
The bistro was established in 2006 after a friendship formed between Frenchman Michel Puchaux and his Auckland-born wife Alison and French-born, Michelin-trained chef David Bonometti.
David and his partner Nathalie Branco took ownership of the establishment in 2010 and aim for a balance of French and New Zealand influences.
Signature dishes include duck canard a l'orange, seafood cassolette and chocolate fondant.
6 Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai
Situated in a cobblestone mall in the heart of Kerikeri is an authentic restaurant serving the best Israeli food for many miles.
It's run by Asher Danim who lived in the village of Moshav Eliakim until moving to New Zealand with his wife Victoria, who is originally from Argentina, 21 years ago.
Consistency is key for the hard-working couple who create dishes with exotic names like Jerusalem morav (spicy pan-fried chicken livers and hearts) and shishlik (diced chicken breast marinated in herbs) along with glorious grilled koftas.
There are also delicious traditional desserts like halva, Turkish delight, baklava and Yuffit's yummy chocolate cake.
Cobblestone Mall, Kerikeri Rd, Kerikeri
North Indian Food
North Indian Food was established in Kawakawa in 2004 by Natesh and Latha Prakash who are originally from Bengaluru, the capital of India's southern Karnataka state.
Natesh initially moved to New Zealand to help a friend run the restaurant before he and his wife bought the business in 2004.
Natesh is the head chef with 31 years cooking experience and a passion for food that he's fostered since childhood, having sampled many different styles of cuisines from his homeland.
The only Indian takeaway in town, the butter chicken - which he marinates overnight and cooks on coals the traditional way - has won praise from customers all over Northland as well as visitors from abroad.
20 Gillies St, Kawakawa
Suk Jai Thai Restaurant
For really authentic Thai food you can't go past Suk Jai Thai Restaurant in Kensington.
Owner Anong Tiebtienrat was born into a big family in rural Thailand and learned from her mother how to choose the freshest herbs, spices and vegetables from the market.
Anong's son Charn said his mum, who is also the head chef, has very high standards.
"My grandmother is very strict; if the herbs or vegetables my mother selected from the market is not up to her standard, my mum would need to return to the market."
The family relocated to Whangārei and took over the business in 2012 after their previous restaurant Thai Smile Restaurant in Christchurch was destroyed in the earthquakes.
In 2013 Suk Jai Thai Restaurant became one of the five Thai restaurants in New Zealand which received the prestigious Thai Select Premium Award from the Prime Minister of Thailand.
93 Kamo Rd, Kensington, Whangārei
Hannsang Korean Restaurant
Tucked away up the tiny lane alongside the overhead Rust Ave railway track is a traditional Korean BBQ eatery called Hannsang Korean Restaurant.
Owners Ray and Lisa Yang opened the restaurant three years ago and the menu boasts dishes such as galbijjim, braised beef short ribs with vegetables in a rich sauce and yookgaejang, a hearty, spicy beef soup that's very popular in Korea.
The couple, who have lived in New Zealand for 33 years, also serve up traditional Korean kimchi made with vegetables, garlic, ginger, chilli peppers and salt that's packed with flavour and nutrients.
Don't forget to try the sundae guk, a flavourful broth with sliced sundae (Korean blood sausage) and other types of offal, which is regarded as an excellent hangover remedy.
14 Rust Ave, Whangārei
Sushi Gallery Kerikeri
The Sushi Gallery in Kerikeri isn't just your average sushi bar.
Though there is a wide range of delicate rice rolls with seasoned fillings wrapped in seaweed, the eatery also has a wide variety of finger food and hot, nutritious meals.
Spring rolls, teriyaki chicken skewers, and prawn dumplings co-exist with dishes you might not have tried before like takuyaki (octopus ball), gyoza (Japanese fried dumpling) and edamame (soy bean in its shell).
Meals include noodle dishes like yakisoba and ramen, and there are many traditional rice dishes like bento boxes and donburi.
Sushi Gallery Kerikeri owners Brian Gu and Judy Cao took over the popular eatery in 2014 and are happy to be running a local restaurant in a town "where people treat each other like family".
They suggest trying their ramen noodles and Japanese curry – all made with care by talented head chef Ning Zhang.
60 Kerikeri Rd, Kerikeri
King Wah Chinese Restaurant
King Wah Chinese Restaurant has been at the forefront of the Paihia dining scene for many years.
The Chinese dining establishment serves up a la carte and takeaways, but is most famous for its lunch and dinner buffets.
There are plenty of seafood dishes like fresh oysters and prawns, along with traditional Chinese food like chowmein, dumplings, spring rolls, fried rice, sweet and sour dishes, roast duck and barbeque pork.
Winsom and Maling Kwok have owned and operated the restaurant for 24 years, and are just as proud of their team, who they regard as one big family, as they are of their loyal customers.
"They come in and we watch their kids grow up and bring their children," Maling said. "It's quite a joy."
Williams Rd, Paihia Mall