Preparing to battle end-of-school-holidays traffic? Take a break from today’s chaos with a cuppa, coffee or meal at one of these on-the-beaten-track cafes.


A barn-like space 4½km north of Cambridge, Red Cherry cafe is a restful and child-friendly place to pull into between Cambridge and Hamilton, especially if the mood in the car is anything but restful. Open 8.30am-4.30pm today, corner Forrest Rd and State Highway 1.


Workman's Cafe and Bar

is an institution along State Highway 27. Despite the name, it's not a pie-warmer-and-sweaty-tradesmen kind of place — it's named for its owner, Syd Workman. Good, honest food and friendly service. Open from 8am "until the last person walks out the door", at 52 Broadway.


Kids getting fidgety? With a lawn, playground and shady trees, The Cider Shed cafe is a great place for them to let off steam while you fuel up on caffeine before joining the crawl towards the Puhoi Tunnel. Open 7 days. 182 State Highway 1, Dome Valley, 3km north of Warkworth.



Kid yourself that the holidays aren't over by stopping for lunch or dinner at the laid-back McLeod's Pizza Barn, a couple of kilometres off State Highway 1 at Waipu. Possibly the only Scottish-themed pizza kitchen south of, well, the North Pole, and guaranteed to send you home with a happy belly. Opens 11.30am, kitchen closes 9pm. 2 Cove Rd.


If you're heading back from the Coromandel, factor in brunch or lunch in Thames before braving State Highway 2. Try Sola Cafe at 720 Pollen St (open 8am-4pm today) or Cafe Melbourne, up the road at number 715, (9am-4pm). (Yes, alert reader, that makes six cafes not five, but it's hard to separate these two, in quality or geography.)