When travelling with children it's a saviour to find a café that caters for kids too. Especially if you're pushing a pram, you need a decent coffee to keep you going. Here are my picks for the best near the city.
This café is like going to someone's trendy Westmere bungalow because it is, indeed, a house. It's concealed from street view, but just past the counter is a spacious lounge with bay window, furnished with comfy chairs, toy boxes and even a rocking horse. Coffee groups congregate here on a regular basis but there's plenty of room with another back dining room and outside seating. What's more, the Singing Cowboy holds sessions every Tuesday and Wednesday at 9.30am and 10.30am. For $8 your little one can join in the fun singing and playing percussion. As well as a breakfast and lunch menu, there are plenty of sweet treats, including mini kid-size cupcakes. Decent prices too, such as Mushrooms on Toast ($12) and Cowgirl Beans ($14.50). The pies are especially good but the pizzas (Wednesday to Sundays from 5pm) are among the best in the inner city suburbs. Crispy bases, gourmet toppings. Finish off with a killer tiramisu for dessert – it's too boozy to share with the kids. Owned by two women artists/performers, they also run the Tiny Theatre at the back of the café for shows, music and plays.
85 Garnet Rd, Westmere
7 days from 7am; Wed-Sat pizzas from 5-10pm; Sundays 8am-8pm
Catch the 020 in Mayoral Drive by the Aotea Centre, and get off at 58 Garnet Rd, right opposite the café
Garnet Station, Westmere: Look for the giant coffee
Garnet Station, Westmere: Like your own living room
While we're in Westmere, another place here has a sandpit – inside the café. Real estate is precious in this part of town but owner Adele has managed to create a little haven for tots in a crisp, cool décor. The sand toys and chalkboard will keep them happy while you indulge in wicked cakes and healthy brunches such as the Fitness Bowl ($18.50), Kumara Rosti ($20.50) or Vietnamese Pork Belly ($22). Kids' egg and soldiers is $6, and pancakes with apple and bacon/avo/Marmite on toast are both $9.
129 West End Rd, Westmere
Mon-Fri 6.45am-3.30pm; Sat-Sun 7.30am-3.30pm
Catch the 020 in Mayoral Drive by the Aotea Centre, and get off at 152 Garnet Rd, 100m the café or catch the Outer Link from Wellesley St East and get off at 181 Garnet Rd, 100m from the cafe
Catroux, Westmere: Cool interior, cool for kids
Catroux, Westmere: Indoor designer sandpit
Fusion also has a sandpit, outside, easily accessible with your buggy via a side path. The quiet shaded courtyard is a very pleasant place to recharge while the kids play. The place has a relaxed vibe, with a blackboard menu to match. You can still get a long black here for under $4, as well as the usual brunch options, bagels and specials such as Hash Potato and Fusion Platter ($19.50). The kids' menu, the likes of pancakes and cheese on toast, is $8.
32 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay
Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-5pm
Catch the Outer Link from Wellesley St East and get off at 2 Jervois Rd, 100m from the café
Fusion, Herne Bay: Funky as, with special side entrance for buggies
Fusion, Herne Bay: Shaded sandpit in the courtyard
While we're in Herne Bay, Dear Jervois doesn't have a play area for children but they do offer paper and crayons. And they are worth mentioning because they have the most stylish and well-equipped baby changing room in central Auckland. The menu is extremely healthy with the likes of superfood cruesli and matcha waffles, and Dear Jervois will feature in my Best Healthy Central Cafe
list. You can get salads, fritters, crab rolls and burgers too.
234 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay
Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-4pm
Catch the Outer Link from Wellesley St East and get off at 206 Jervois Rd, 130m from the cafe
Dear Jervois, Herne Bay: Great food and industrial-chic styling
The Fairy Shop
Dear Jervois, Herne Bay: The best baby change room by far
Be warned: your little princess or pirate may not want to leave this fairytale store. The shop sells an extensive range of costumes and gifts, and caters for theme parties in the room upstairs. There are also Café Sessions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9.45 and 11am where you and your child can spend a special hour with the fairy and have morning tea ($25 per pair). Or you can just have coffee and cake or a toasted sandwich downstairs while the kids dress-up in the play corner. On Fridays between 10am-12.30pm you can get a free face paint from the resident fairy with any purchase.
79 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
Tue-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat-Sun 9.30am-4.30pm
Catch the Inner Link from 174 Queen St, and get off at 95 Ponsonby Rd, 50m from the café
The Fairy Shop, Ponsonby: One-stop fantasyland
The Fairy Shop, Ponsonby: Face paint fairy flutters in on Fridays
This is probably the only café along Ponsonby Rd with a sandpit, and all their courtyard seating is covered, so a good place to go on a rainy day. The breakfast and brunch menu includes the standards ($21 for the Big Breakfast is the most expensive) and extends to burgers and a rice bowl. The café has live music on Thursday and Friday nights and poetry on Wednesday, plus a Kids Muso Club on the first Sunday of the month from 3-5.30pm for 10-17 year olds.
121 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
7 days 6.30am-5.30pm
Catch the Inner Link from 174 Queen St, and get off at 167 Ponsonby Rd, 150m from the café
One2One, Ponsonby: Covered sandpit in the courtyard
One2One, Ponsonby: The covered courtyard is perfect for rainy days