Two children climbing on a half-sphere climbing structure on a playground in Cobham Court, Porirua.

Twelve hours in Porirua

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Just a short train ride north of Wellington, Porirua city sits at the southern end of a sheltered harbour. The two arms of the harbour and beaches to the west provide a water wonderland. The surrounding hills offer many walking tracks and trails. Head over and get your fill of sights and eats.

Blow the cobwebs away with a coffee and early morning stroll along Porirua Stream towards the harbour. First stop however is Local Authority on Walton Leigh Avenue. It’s a pocket-sized coffee spot that packs a punch. Stop by for a fantastic espresso, and a light breakfast. The Peoples Coffee beans are complimented by tasty toasties and other quality savouries. Hopefully you’ll catch one of the jalapeño cheese scones. If a liquid breakfast is more your style, then the generous smoothie options should fuel you up for the rest of the day.

A person sitting outside Local Authority in Porirua eating food. A black labrodor dog sits at their feet.

Local Authority is a great place to start your day with a coffee and good food.

Back out on the road, your trek along the stream will lead to the harbour. Just before you hit the water take a turn left on to Parumoana Street. A couple of blocks over you’ll find Pātaka Art + Museum. The institution has a national reputation for mounting significant art and cultural exhibitions. Open since 1998, the gallery showcases the best in contemporary Māori and Pacific arts. It also shows art and culture from Asia and beyond. Make your way around the exhibition Whiti Te Rā. It details the progress Ngai Toa Rangatira and its bitter conflicts with the colonial government in the 1840s–50s.

Your trip to Pātaka will easily keep you amused until lunchtime.  You’ll be peckish afterwards so a short drive north to Plimmerton is in order. There, The Big Salami will help fill the gap. This community-feel pizzeria offers calzone, paninis, great coffee, and sweet slices as well as, of course, tasty pizza. You’ll want to order a few to share; there’s a great range of vegetarian, gourmet meat, or seafood options as well as the classics. The Big Salami is at the southern end of Karehana Bay Beach. The beach is one of the regions’ best-kept secrets. It has unimpeded views of Mana Island to the west and views of Ngati Toa Reserve on the Titahi Bay peninsular to the south-west. If you’re feeling energetic you could head across the road and up into the Karehana Bay Scenic Reserve. The indigenous coastal forest is home to plenty of native birds.

Fresh air and exercise always helps build up an appetite. Titahi Bay has the antidote. The Beer Engine on Whitehouse Road is a great spot for an afternoon pick-me-up. It’s not hard to miss with its bright turquoise shopfront. A small batch contract brewery, the cosy taproom showcases beers from quality breweries around the country. You’ll no doubt spy some familiar names on tap as well as fresh products from brand new producers. The Beer Engine also stocks spectacular wines from small producers and spirits crafted from the wider region. The space is bright and breezy with a courtyard out the back that pumps with community spirit.

Heading along the eastern arm of Porirua Harbour towards Pauatahanui leads to the only independent movie spot for miles around. Light House Pauatahanui offers a mix of blockbuster and independent films screenings. You can settle in for a late afternoon flick before dinner or head in for a late screening. Like its sister cinemas in Petone and central Wellington, Light House Pauatahanui is boutique. Its plush seating and cosy atmosphere makes the movie watching all the more enjoyable. Finally, head back to where it all started — Porirua city. Dinner at Tuk Tuk Thai Restaurant in Hartham Place provides its customers with authentic and delicious Thai food.

Inside Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen, a Thai restaurant in Porirua, New Zealand. The bright room has tables, chairs greenery and bamboo accents.

Porirua restaurant Tuk Tuk Thai offers authentic Thai cuisine in a vibrant setting.