It’s a rite of passage for Wellingtonians to line up on the stairs in the hopes of securing a table at Maranui Cafe. Seating 50 inside and 20 outside, it’s situated on the first floor of a distinctive white and red heritage building on the waterfront at Lyall Bay, a popular surf destination.

The site has been a surf lifesaving club since 1911, and the cafe’s 2003 opening was originally part of a campaign to boost membership numbers. After a huge fire swept through in 2009, owners Bronwyn Kelly and Katie Richardson made sure the fresh fit-out was casual and colourful. Much of the art and tableware is made by Wellington creatives, and surf-lifesaving memorabilia adorns the brightly coloured yellow walls, with vintage pieces nodding to the building’s roots.

Arguably the best indoor tables are right next to the bay windows that frame the ocean – a mesmerising view, rain or shine.

Maranui’s menu hits the right spot between wholesome and hearty – from the signature scrambled tofu, to the Big Bay Breakfast with all the trimmings, and steamed mussels with garlic, cream and thyme. Richardson herself is vegan, and you’ll find dishes to suit almost any dietary requirement. Overall, the team heroes local suppliers – whether that’s bread from Shelly Bay Baker, coffee from Wellington’s Havana roastery or craft beers from Parrotdog and Garage Project.

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Updated: April 13th, 2023

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