A few kilometres south of downtown Wellington is Lyall Bay, a black sand beach with timber houses climbing the steep surrounding hills, a long beachfront promenade – and the Maranui Cafe.
The upstairs space in an old surf life saving club is fitted out with an eclectic and colourful mix of nautically themed stuff – surf boat oars, marlin heads, stuffed fish, tables made from red-and-yellow surf club signboards etc etc – and an espresso machine customised with pieces sawn off old refreigerators.
The espresso machine gets plenty of work turning out flat whites of the Havana Coffee Works Five Star blend, a classic New Zealand espresso: bright, creamy, long and smoky in the finish and made for pouring with milk.
Maranui Cafe is pretty busy on weekends, with queues for tables and waits for food from the semi-open kitchen (“hearty Kiwi, vegan fare and kiddy kai”), though grain-based salads from the cabinet are a ready-made option if you can’t wait.
But the view from full-length windows is straight down the water, and a table on the outdoor deck is a great spot to while away an hour or two watching Air New Zealand pilots wrestle the fluky Cook Strait winds on their southern approach to Wellington airport (the runway is at the eastern end of the beach), catch a blast of salt spray yourself – and see where Wellington gets brunch in its jandals.
Where The Parade, Lyall Bay, Wellington
When Daily 7am–5pm