North of Auckland NZ
To answer my own question,on my return!
A Deco in Whangerei was very good indeed.Also for a more informal meal try 'Killer Prawn'.
Pure Tastes in Paihai got a really stinky write up in the local northern paper - we gave it a miss.
Just outside Kerikeri on way to airport try 'Marsden Vineyard' for lunch very good and reasonable
We ourselves are heading up North in the New Year and there are a handful of places that you may want to consider.
We've heard good things about À Deco in Whangerei, which was a finalist in the Cuisine Restaurant of the Year Awards 2007. Also the Pure Tastes Restaurant at the Paihai Beach Resort (http://www.paihiabeach.co.nz/) in (surprisingly enough) Paihai as well as Kamakura in Russel.
Also if you get chance on the way up you should stop off at Matakana (http://www.matakanavillage.co.nz/) for the Farmers Market held every Saturday morning. Also we'd check out the Ascension Winery where we recently enjoyed a very delicious lunch.
Hope this helps.
A Deco in Whangarei is fantastic, beautiful restaurant and an absolute bargain if you go for the set lunch, in and around $30 when i visited. Can also second Asencsion, the tasting platter is a good way to eat there and the wines are pretty good too. Great cheese in and around Puhoi.
Further north there are some very good roadside veg places, the food trail map is good for tips
additionally in the bay of islands go digging for some pipis, one of the best feeds i had were there straight from the beach.