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Experience some good, old fashioned country hospitality

1 November 2017

Fancy stopping by a good, old fashioned country café or store where you can leave your gumboots at the door? Thankfully there are heaps of options when it comes to country cafes in the wider Canterbury region. Check out our top picks for cafes outside of the big smoke and experience some small-town hospitality.

The Lincoln Pantry

Locals claim The Lincoln Pantry is the best place for coffee in town. The store is fitted out with re-purposed materials including items out of earthquake-damaged buildings in Christchurch and pallet shelving. It has a ‘hamporium’ – a whole wall dedicated to hamper baskets, which you can fill with products from the shelves. For a takeaway treat, grab a raw, gluten or dairy free snack from the cabinet or one of the café’s legendary sandwiches.

Little River Cafe and Store

With a seriously impressive food cabinet and menu, the Little River Café and Store should be a mandatory stop on your journey to or from Akaroa. You’ll find organic coffee, food made using local produce and a general store with grocery items, including artisan breads. Try the berry sundae on a hot summer’s day and check out the huge range of locally-made giftware and amazing art in the gallery next door.

The Store @ Tai Tapu

The Store @ Tai Tapu is a family café known for its exceptional milkshakes and choc-dipped gourmet icecreams. It is a great place to sit outside on a warm day and enjoy a coffee and some cake or savouries. The café has a good range of wine and beer on hand – or you could try the homemade rhubarb or elderflower punch. For special occasions, you can book a high tea. They’re getting rave reviews, so you'll need to order 24 hours in advance. There’s also a gift shop, selling things like jewellery, hand creams, decorative homeware and candles.

The Staveley Store

The Staveley Store is nestled under the Mid-Canterbury foothills in the heart of a friendly, tight-knit rural community. Its fit-out captures the charm of the original Staveley Store, which opened in 1876. The counter brims with delicious treats, including brioches, cakes, slices and enormous hand-made sausage rolls. The store is also the showroom for Mt Somers Station and is packed full of seasonal farm produce, honey, meats and smallgoods sourced from the family farm. It also sells hut tickets for the Mount Somers Track.

Dunsandel Store and Café

Dunsandel Store and Café is a fantastic place to stop on your journey south from Christchurch. It combines an old-fashioned country store and post office with a much-loved cafe and deli, offering all sorts of treats including an intriguing lollycake cheesecake slice. Much emphasis is placed on sourcing local, free-range and organic produce. Word on the street is the store’s bakers struggle to keep up with demand for their giant chocolate chip cookies, so you might want to give those a try too.

Hislops Café

Free range organic eggs and preservative-free bacon are the norm at Hislops Café in Kaikoura. Hislops bakes its own stoneground wholemeal bread daily and has a variety of gluten free options available and some vegan items. The café started after its owners hosted WWOOFers at their private homestead and experienced their appreciation for the meals they shared, including the bread they made with flour milled on the family property.

Run 76 Café and General Store

Run 76 Café and General Store is described as “your kitchen and living room at the heart of the Mackenzie Country”. The café is in Tekapo’s bustling township but maintains a rustic feel. The term Run 76 is derived from the run or station numbers given to stations in the early years. Its chefs use local produce such as Aoraki Salmon and cheeses, mustards and relishes, which are also available for sale in the deli.

Little Vintage Espresso

Little Vintage Espresso is a quaint café on Markham Street  the original main drag of Amberley. Husband-and-wife team Matt (an Aussie) and Vanessa (a Kiwi) crossed the ditch from Australia to set it up, fulfilling their dream of owning their own café. It is a cozy hangout with a community feel. Matt prides himself on knowing most regular customers’ coffee orders. Rustic sweet slices are baked on site and the café offers gourmet all-day brekkies and freshly squeezed juices.

The Farm Barn Café

The Farm Barn Café has a classic rural vibe, with high ceilings, exposed wooden beams, wooden floors and an inviting fireplace surrounded by comfy couches and a suitcase full of woollen blankets. It offers amazing views of the Mackenzie Country, great coffee and hearty homemade food and baking. It even stocks local specialties such as Denheath Custard Squares and Fairlie Bakehouse pies, as well as New Zealand made merino and possum wear and other boutique Kiwi products. The Farm Barn Café is found on Highway 79 between Geraldine and Fairlie.

Pukeko Junction Café & Deli

Pukeko Junction Café & Deli is found on the side of State Highway 1 in Leithfield and is worth slowing down for. It is a great spot for a hearty lunch or breakfast, with all of the café’s gourmet country-style food made in house – from the bread to the tarts, cakes, sauces and fresh salads. It is busy with locals and has a lot of outdoor seating for those sunny North Canterbury days.

The Brickmill Café

The Brickmill Café is a rustic hangout in Waikuku, famous for its wholesome home-cooked fare. It operates from a historic building on State Highway 1, which had a long history as a rope and twine factory. The complex is now a hub for local artists, a pottery workshop, an antique shop and The Brickmill Café. A stream meanders through the café’s beautiful outdoor garden setting area.


Verde is a friendly local eatery tucked behind an old post office building in Geraldine’s town centre. The café is run out of historic villa surrounded by English-style country gardens and offers indoor and outdoor seating. There is always a large queue for the scones which are made fresh every morning. The outside area is a perfect place to enjoy your food in the sun.

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