Nicest ices: The best ice creams in New Zealand

by Jean Teng / 13 March, 2019
ice cream nz

Ice cream is a happy food – it’s a scientific fact. One lick and a pleasure centre in your brain lights right up. Jean Teng reports, happily.

As summer ends, let’s salute our favourite frozen treat. More than just taste, ice cream is also about memories: delving into a pillow of fruity soft-serve at a berry farm; popping into the local no-frills dairy and facing a mammoth scoop of Tip Top; begging Dad to take the next exit for an icy break during a long, crowded road trip; discovering a weird-as-anything flavour and loving it (shock fact: things taste good mixed with a generous dollop of sugar and fat).

We’ve put together a word-of-mouth guide to the best ice cream, gelato and sorbet spots in New Zealand, from fancy creameries to old-school parlours, with points awarded for inventiveness and tips on where to score the biggest scoops.

We’re a nation of ice cream lovers (and creators), so if you have one you think deserved to be on this list, we’d love to hear about it!

Northland

Highway 10 Seafood Takeaways
SH10, Waipapa
A note from former North & South food writer Kate Richards: “If I could choose how to exit this world, it’d be by a 15-scooper from Highway 10 Seafood Takeaways.” ’Nuff said.

Te Kao Local Store
6650 Far North Rd, Te Kao
Another Tip Top institution. Tours stop here by the busload so travellers can tuck into a well-deserved cone after a day of sightseeing at nearby Cape Reinga.

Blue River Orchard
45 Koropewa Rd, Waipapa
Only open from around November to March, but there’s huge demand for a serve of their blueberry ice cream made from fresh fruit grown on-site. Also in Paihia every Thursday over summer.

Charlies Gelato Garden
17 Sharp Rd, Warkworth
A Matakana hideaway with a perpetually curling line in summer. Real fruit ice cream made from freshly picked berries, and gelato handmade in small batches.

Auckland

Giapo
12 Gore St, CBD
This “haute” creamery is a hub of madcap inventions, which usually revolve around ice cream and most days break out of cone constraints with wacky aplomb. Ice cream makers? More like scientists.

Island Gelato Company
124 Ocean View Rd, Oneroa, Waiheke Island (also at downtown Ferry Terminal)
Waiheke must inspire Island Gelato’s seemingly boundless offerings, with more than 70 flavours and counting. Ice cream here is handmade, experimental and screams summer.

Takapuna Beach Cafe
22 The Promenade, Takapuna
This North Shore favourite is a dog’s sprint from the ocean, but be prepared to join an intimidatingly long line for a scoop of beachside gelato.

Read more: Auckland's best cafes 2019

Miann
36-38 Galway St, CBD (also at 57 Fort St, CBD and 12 Macdonald St, Morningside)
Miann is a dessert parlour with a sit-down menu, but who has the time? Get a scoop of the pistachio, honey and baklava, or the dulce de leche, and walk around lazily enjoying summer in Auckland.

Milse
31 Tyler St, CBD
Grab a gelato stick on the go (a Magnum-
like frozen delight). We’re particularly into the classic salted caramel and hazelnut, but on a light, summer-breeze day, we’d pick the Peach Iced Tea.

Kohu Road at The Tannery
44B Portage Rd, New Lynn
Kohu Road’s philosophy is to “revel in simple pleasures”, and we’ll take our simple pleasure in the form of matcha (green tea) ice cream for breakfast, thanks.

Ollies
802 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak
Ollies has commandeered its corner spot in Royal Oak for more than 45 years. The Tip Top ice cream menu has expanded to about 30 flavours, and original owner Colin is still right in the thick of this community-rooted diner.

Pokeno Takeaways
57 Great South Rd, Pōkeno
Pokeno serves Tip Top, of course, and who isn’t up for the nostalgia of devouring an entire two-litre tub of orange chocolate chip in one boring summer afternoon? With those monster-sized scoops, you might get that and more.

Hamilton

Duck Island
300A Grey St, Hamilton East
Shop 5, 298 Victoria St, CBD
All hail the masters. Duck Island stores are a pastel-dusted wonderland of creative fairy-tale flavours: blackberry, sage and honey, cherry buttermilk, and (naturally) fairy bread, plus about 23 others. Aucklanders, you can rejoice, too: a parlour is opening on Ponsonby Rd this summer.

Piopio

Piopio Berry Orchard
1772 SH3, Piopio
An essential real fruit ice cream pit-stop at an orchard with fields of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Hastings

Rush Munro’s
704 Heretaunga St West
New Zealand’s oldest ice cream producer – churning since 1926 – still has the goods behind the green gate of its retro Garden Parlour. Settle down with a cone of ice cream (or the likes of a maple walnut sundae), now made using organic whole milk, and watch the fish swim around in the garden pond.

ice cream nz

Wellington

Kaffee Eis
146 Cuba St (also at Courtenay Place, Oriental Parade, and Frank Kitts Park)
Chilled in every possible way, the Cuba St and Courtney Place branches are open hipsters’ hours to cater for long, hot, summer evenings when you just want to bathe your tongue in gelato. Eis’s luscious ice is made from milk, not cream, so is lower in fat than the traditional blend, though you’d never know it.

Kāpiti Coast

Koru Ice
3 Addington Rd, Te Hōro
About an hour’s drive from Wellington, Koru Ice is the shabby, yellow-painted home of a fabulous swirled peanut butter gelato, plus a variety of others (all homemade). There’s also sorbet, real fruit ice cream and, on occasion, cupcakes.

Lower Hutt

Zany Zeus
149 Randwick Rd, Lower Hutt
Known for their cheese, Zany Zeus are also producers of damn good ice cream, with seasonal flavours – all organic – and a popular chocolate-dipped soft serve for the kids. While you’re there, why not help yourself to some of their halloumi, too? We would.

Nelson

Penguino
85 Montgomery Square, Nelson
An old-school creamery with modern flavours, Penguino has all the charm of a small-town haunt ideal for an after-school date – but instead of sharing a milkshake, we recommend knocking spoons over a bowl of mojito and lime sorbet.

Richmond

Tasman Bay Berries
37 McShane Rd, Appleby
Live the summer dream and spend a day picking your own berries, then find a shady spot to lick down a creamy blend of real-fruit boysenberry ice cream.

Darfield

Darfield Dairy
53a South Tce, Darfield
Make the stop on your road trip from Christchurch to the West Coast for a big (huge) scoop of good ’ol Tip Top.

Christchurch

Rollickin’ Gelato
37/35 New Regent St
A Christchurch fave that champions seasonal flavours – or, as they call them, “Guest Appearances” – so combinations change year-round. Open till 10pm daily, it’s our preferred way to wind down the evening.

Utopia Ice
15 Wakefield Ave
Especially good for vegans, those lactose-
intolerant or if you just wanna cool down with an icy sorbet, Utopia Ice also has a range of plant-based ice creams (such as their cherry mint choc chip) and classic gelato. With a sweet little garden retreat out front, utopia sounds about right.

Queenstown

Patagonia Chocolates
50 Beach St, Queenstown (also at Rees St and Queenstown Airport, plus in Arrowtown and Wānaka)
Crunchy handmade waffle cones, traditional Italian ice cream and, also, chocolate. Argentinian owners Alex and Lorena have concocted flavours influenced by their South American homeland, such as the Tramontana, a sweet mix of dulce de leche jam and chocolate-coated biscuits.

Dunedin

Rob Roy Dairy
500 George St, North Dunedin
Notorious as the go-to for Dunedin’s raucous student flatties, Rob Roy has recently expanded to include a dessert parlour and is as popular as ever.

Patti’s & Cream
On the road, Dunedin
Patti’s & Cream is an elevated ice cream truck (sans saccharine jingle) chugging around Dunedin slinging hand-rolled waffle cones filled with flavours like pumpkin dulce de leche, and take-home tubs with scrawled labels. Also serving milk bun burgers – dinner and dessert in one.

Honourable Mentions

Oob Organic Cafe, 2 Matakana Valley Rd, Matakana

Joshua’s Ice Cream, 8 Maheke St, St Heliers, Auckland

Raglan Roll-Up, 11 Bow St, Raglan

Madden’s Ice Cream Parlour, 3 Grange Rd, Hahei

Renall Street Store, 164 Renall St, Masterton

Gelissimo Gelato, 11 Cable St, Wellington

T.O.A.D. Hall, 502 High St, Motueka

Poppy’s Hand Made Ice Cream, 18 West End, Kaikōura

Black Peak Gelato, 5/123 Ardmore St, Wānaka

Te Anau Dairy, 76 Town Centre, Te Ānau

This article was first published in the February 2019 issue of North & South.

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