This artsy little town is just an hour and a half from Auckland, and the perfect stop for anyone heading north for a holiday. The town was founded by Scottish settlers in 1854, and they've been hosting a Highland Games here since 1871. They're giving next year's a miss, but you can learn more about the Scottish heritage at the excellent Waipū Museum. Just out of town, explore the beach and the caves, and visit the fantastic Industry Vintage, a second-hand store that feels like stepping into your Kiwi childhood, no matter your vintage.
Where to eat in Waipū
At Logan MacLean, they serve "food with a conscience" - free-range eggs, bacon and ham, organic fair trade coffee and tea, and organic milk. facebook.com/loganmacleancafe
At The Cove Cafe, it's beachside dining, cocktails and fresh seafood (and plenty more in between, including breakfasts and lunches). Founded by a farmer and a restaurateur, The Cove deals in "gate to plate" - they grow all the vegetables they serve, and the beef and lamb comes directly from their farm. There's an extensive vegan menu available too. thecovecafe.co.nz
Togs Togs Undies offers beachy food that's hearty and healthy - there are colourful salads, keto snacks, and family meal boxes for takeaways (all in eco-friendly packaging). The in-house menu is entirely vegan, with an option to add in eggs and bacon if you like. They also sell locally grown fresh produce so you can pick up bok choy and beets and beans along with your breakfast.
Where to drink in Waipū
A stop at the Pizza Barn offers pizzas piled high with ingredients, and delicious McLeod's beers - watch the ABV on these, they're all fairly high. Luckily for the driver, there's a full fridge to the side of the bar, so you can select something to enjoy once you stop for the night. I'd recommend the Glinks Gully, named after the wild west-coast beach on the other side of the island. It's perfectly balanced, clean-tasting, and has a great kick. The head brewer is a friendly American chap, who is happy to show interested homebrewers around. Good luck getting the secrets of his recipes out of him though. facebook.com/mcleodspizzabarn
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Where to stay in Waipū
Just out of town, the Black Sheep Homestead is a beautiful country home at the foothills of the Brynderwyn mountain range. They offer B&B accommodation on a working sheep farm, and its elevated position offers sea views (the beach is 1km away). At breakfast, you'll be fed from the property's organic permaculture gardens. Evening meals are available by prior arrangement. blacksheepfarm.co.nz
Camp Waipū Cove is right on the beach. Choose from cabins, apartments, and sites. There's a tennis court, two colourful playgrounds, three shared kitchens, and outdoor barbecues. campwaipucove.com