Waterfront, beneath Frank Kitts Park, Wellington
Opens 7.30am; closes around 3.30pm but both times are weather dependent
Granola $11; Celcius coffee, Kerikeri tea
Tuatua has an enviable location as a literal hole-in-the-wall under Frank Kitts Park in front of the promenade between Te Papa and Queen’s Wharf. It has outside seating and also a small cavern for days when the weather is less favourable. It’s a minimal operation, often staffed by just one person with a lot of balls (or is that plates?) to juggle.
When I visited in 2019 I was attracted by the low $8.50 price and was hoping I could declare this place great value for money, but I’m afraid I simply got what I paid for. The price has gone up since then, and so has the quality in about equal measure. The granola is fairly dry (good, as this probably means it hasn’t been toasted in heaps of sugar and oil), but it also very fine grained, which makes it a bit sawdust-like in texture. I could see sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, coconut and dates in the granola, but oat flakes were hard to spot, though I’m sure comprised the bulk of the mix.
The granola came with berry compote that was simply unfrozen berries I think, so not sugary. Plus a small amount of raw pear and some natural, runny yoghurt with a minimal drizzle of honey or syrup over it. The yoghurt and compote weren’t enough to moisten all the granola through and its powdery nature meant I had to ask for some milk.
The coffee seemed a bit bland but it is organic and fair trade. Indeed the café says it is socially and environmentally conscious, using organic products as well as SPCA approved free-range bacon and eggs, and composting all food waste. It doesn’t do takeaway cups (bring your own) and is working to eliminate single-use packaging with its suppliers.
In the photo above you can see the interior seating. I think most people sit out in the open at front, but if it is a windy day, as it often is in Wellington of course, you can take shelter in here. There are hand-made pottery coffee keep-cups for sale on the shelves.
Around 8am on a weekday there are streams of people going to work passing by, and lunchtime is pretty chocka too. Ditto in the weekends when the weather is fine. So your dining can be fairly public. But when numbers drop back you have the privilege of the harbour as your dining space. Just make sure its not a windy Wellington day.
Great location but the food and coffee are OK, though not too remarkable. Pick a calm day when the waterfront is not too busy though, and it might be a real winner for you.
Reviewed September 2019 and May 2022.
Menus, ingredients and opening hours may change. Check with eatery before you visit.