News | 8 December 2023
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Friday Five: Explore Lyall Bay

Just 6km from the city, Lyall Bay boasts Wellington’s most popular surf beach, is a great spot for dogs and their owners, and a cool place to hang out all year round.

People have been surfing in the bay for more than a century, with early adopters no doubt inspired by Hawaiian surfing legend and Olympic medal-winning swimmer Duke Kahanamoku. A big crowd hit the beach in 1915 to see the Duke demonstrate “the royal and noble art” of surfboard riding and it’s been all go there ever since. Here are five things to do in Lyall Bay.

Lyall bay with maranui cafe on the left hand side.
Maranui Café by Lyall Bay Beach.

1. Enjoy a coffee and sea air 

Whatever the weather, you’re spoilt for choice in Lyall Bay. Grab a takeaway and head to the beach or seafront nautical-themed playground, or enjoy the laid-back coastal vibe at one of the neighbourhood cafes.  

There’s lots of tempting treats to be had and links to the past. You can soak up some surf lifesaving history at Maranui Café in one of the bay’s two surf lifesaving clubs. 

Or head down to Queens Drive, sit inside or out, and enjoy the old store vibe at Queen Sally’s Diamond Deli.  Babies, friendly dogs, school children and local tradies all pop in for their share of warm service, Havana coffee and eat in or take out treats.  

People swimming at Lyall Bay Beach.

2. Catch a wave, swim, or help keep the beach in great shape 

When the surfs up you can watch the surfers or give it a go. Wellington Surf Lessons provide all the gear and even offer fun sessions for work teams tailored to absolute beginners, plus they have Christmas lesson vouchers and a school holiday programme

There’s also lots of plane action, kite-surfers get airborne in the right conditions, and you can see dogs of every shape and size. Bring yours down to enjoy beach time off-lead at the airport end. 

If you fancy a dip, there’s beach patrols over summer months, so you can swim between the flags. 

Or join one of the regular beach clean-ups organised by the Lyall Bay Coast Care group.  Work to restore the once-extensive sand dunes by planting native sand binder pingao and spinifex has been under way since the 1990s. 

Person cycling down the street alongside the ocean.

3. Stroll or bike  

Lyall Bay is the city’s longest bay, so a great place for a stroll or paddle. Head round the coast at either end to explore more of the rocky south coast.  

Hue tē Taka peninsula to the east at Moa Point becomes an island at high tide. It is home to penguins and many species of native plants. Round the corner, in Tarakena Bay, are early pā sites and the route to the Ataturk Memorial and eastern walkway.  

Heading west from Lyall Bay, you can walk or bike to Te Raekaihau Point, passing Dorrie Leslie Park and the striking stone moai from Rapanui (Easter Island). The 3.2 tonne sculpture was gifted to us by a former president of Chile.  

If you’re biking, new connections are going in to make it safer to ride to the beach via Onepu Road. Or get off the beaten track a bit and check out the mural and street changes being trialled by Lyall Bay School.  

4. Pick a place to eat and drink 

Sustenance is always close at hand – and there’s lots of places to try.  

Sample the local brew at Parrotdog or high tea meets deli fare at Queen Sally’s, settle in for brunch at the Centennial Café or watch the sunset from Spruce Goose. Or wander down and try plant-based cuisine and cocktails at the Botanist – which was once the tearooms at the end of the tramline that was extended to the beach in 1909.   

Options for fish and chips include LB Rice Bowl in Onepu Road, famous for its spring rolls, Seaview Takeaways, and Fresko, the container outlet opposite Parrotdog where you can also take home some fresh fish. 

Drop into one of the neighbourhood dairies – Onepu Road Dairy, Queens Drive Dairy or Lyall Bay Minimart – for icecreams, or try a real fruit sundae or smoothie at Onepū.   

Shelves full of items at a gift shop.
Swell Creative.

5. Comb local spots for great gifts 

Don’t go home empty handed. Lyall Bay is a great spot to find some cool and creative gifts.  

Queen Sally’s has plenty of interesting consumables to pick from and great flowers.   

You’ll find some locally made gifts, art at Swell Creative and Real Aotearoa, surf-related gear at Real Surf, and everything you’ll need for the freediver or spearfisher in your life at Ocean Hunter

Find out more about our Kilbirnie bike connections, connecting Kilbirnie, Rongotai and Lyall Bay. Or watch out each Friday for a fun list of five great activities to do, places to explore, or things to discover in our great city.