On a glorious summer’s day, what could be nicer than a delicious ice cream on the beachfront. And in the Bays, we’re really spoilt – because Penguino Ice Cream Café  is amongst the country’s crème de la crème.

Penguino was recently nominated by locals and visitors for the NZ Herald’s ‘Top 10’ Best of Summer campaign in the ice cream or gelato shop category. Votes were also open for the best campground, fish and chip shop, playground, and beach walk.

What’s the secret of Penguino’s success? Malcolm and Ann McDonald moved here from Nelson in 2002 and promptly opened the store. Their goal was to be an active part of the business community, offering customers both classic and innovative flavours. Still today they heat treat their own milk, and the ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet are made fresh every single day. The business also maintains a genuine “family” fee. Many of the servers used to visit the café when they were children and are now working summer jobs as they progress through high school. It’s funny to think that, in the lines of customers patiently waiting in Phoenix Plaza, are the future generations of Penguino employees!

And there’s that fabulous combination of traditional and more unusual varieties. Chocolate remains the most popular overall (of course!), but if you like that, you could also try the cookies & cream, white chocolate, or even dark chocolate sorbet. Fancy something a bit different? How about pistachio, bubblegum, Turkish delight, or watermelon sorbet. No need to feel left out if you have food allergies or are trying to watch the waistline – the sorbet is dairy-free and gluten-free, and the gelato is low-fat.

Penguino has already won various silver and gold awards for the strawberry sorbet and banana gelato. So, what more temptation do you need? Pop by and treat yourself. Go on; you know you want to!


Story by ShoreLines Magazine, February/March 2022