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Since selling our house in August we have been housesitting in the Wellington region. In between house sits we have been staying in Petone, Lower Hutt. We recently had two weeks in Petone and love it. Petone is a lovely seaside suburb bordered by a beach that can be wild and magnificent, or calm and placid, with wonderful views across the harbour to Wellington City.
I grew up and went to School locally, so have always been aware of Petone, but it was never really a place to spend a lot of time in. While we had been living in the general area for many years, and frequently visited Petone, living (even for short periods) there has been a fabulous experience. It is amazing how staying somewhere new in a neighbourhood you are familiar with gives you a whole new perspective of the familiar.
Petone is an ideal place to stay if are visiting or working temporarily Lower Hutt or Wellington. Of course, if you love good food, being close to the beach and great accommodation – then Petone is definitely worth a visit. Here is why we think you should visit, and if possible stay, in Petone. Read along to discover Petone.
Petone is 20 km from Wellington Airport and to a certain extent is a different world. It is a seaside suburb with a population of approximately 6000. Petone was the first European settlement in the Wellington region and retains many historical buildings and landmarks. A substantial Maori pa (fortified settlement) was already established at Petone close to the beach when the first European settlers arrived in the region.
Petone is easily accessible. There is good public transport connecting Petone to Wellington or Lower Hutt – and you have the choice of either the bus or train. You could also drive- although it would be best to avoid travelling into or out of Wellington between 7 – 9 am or 4.30 – 6.30pm – otherwise you may get stuck in traffic.
Where to stay
There are two places we love to stay in Petone, Lower Hutt. One an Airbnb and one a serviced apartment. There are plenty of motels in Petone, but we think these are the best Petone accommodation options. These are both great options if you want to be within walking distance (count steps rather minutes) of Jackson Street Petone restaurants – and to be honest, why wouldn’t you! These are both great options, really close to plenty of eating (or drinking) options and public transport links.
We stayed at this historic Petone cottage twice, and to be frank would jump at the chance to stay there again. I didn’t take many photos of this one – the ones on the Airbnb site are too fabulous! It is perfectly located 1 minute walk from Jackson St, Petone (and loads of eating options) and 5 minutes walk from the Beach (and Seashore Cabaret – see above). There are two double bedrooms, a great kitchen and living room – and all the things that make a slightly longer stay really easy – excellent and unlimited wifi, comfortable beds, enough off street carparking for at least two cars, washer/dryer, good heating, a great shower, plenty of clothes hangers. A lovely special touch is the coffee, milk and chocolate you receive on arrival – perfect!
Nicola, the host, is really friendly and easy to deal with. Book here and you will get a $35USD discount (and I will too) on your next Airbnb booking.
We have stayed at Quest Petone at least half a dozen times and have tried a couple of different types of rooms – all in the name of research of course! The Quest Petone is part of a chain of service apartment hotels, is relatively new and is in a great central location to Jackson Street Petone. It is literally a couple of steps from Jackson Street, and 5 minutes from the beach.
We preferred to stay in the Studio Apartment – the ones we stayed in had a fabulous balcony with a great view of Wellington Harbour.
We also stayed in the Executive Studio which is bigger, and I think would better suit a stay longer than a few days. The Executive Studio we stayed in didn’t have a balcony (others might) but it was a great layout with more space and seating than the Standard Studio (see above).
Places to eat
There are plenty of Petone restaurants to choose from, and it feels like great new ones are continuing to open. These are the ones we enjoy and keep returning to.
Seashore Cabaret, 160 The Esplanade, Petone
One of the newer Petone restaurants but it feels like it has been part of Petone for so long. It is wonderful, great food, excellent coffee, great service and the view! Even when it is howling a gale there is always something to see. On weekends it can get very busy so it pays to get there early. We love that there are plenty of vegetarian options too. Seashore Cabaret is open for dinner Thursday – Sunday too.
Queen of Jackson
Queens of Jackson on Jackson St, Petone is a great place to check out. The food here is delicious, and they have an excellent range of craft beers. On Wednesday nights they also have 2 for 1 cocktails. It is a busy place and appears to be the place where you stop for a quiet beer (or two) after work. On weekends they also have a lunch special – a good way to check out their menu and have a quiet tipple on the weekend.
When it is sunny and warm, head up to the rooftop bar. Even if it is a little chilly they have heated seats to keep you a little toasty.
K Sing at 192 Jackson St is a fabulous Laotian, Vietnamese and Cambodian restaurant. It is very busy, and it pays to book a table or get there early. They also do takeaway. K Sing has quickly become one of our favourites. Really yummy food and as the servings are large, there is usually enough to take home to have for lunch the next day. It is also BYO.
Kilim at 87 Jackson St is on our go to places for quick, tasty and healthy food. It is always very busy and is BYO, so you can take your own bottle of wine to enjoy with your delicious Turkish meal. My niece has proclaimed that it is her favourite restaurant (after scoffing a chicken kebab) – a big call at 8 years old!
Sprig & Fern
The Sprig and Fern Tavern at 146 Jackson St is a great place to enjoy a beer. They have a great range of beer. Wile their menu is limited, they also allow you to bring your own food to enjoy with the beer. There is a lovely out door area where you can sit in the sun, or by the open fire if it is chilly. They have board games to enjoy and have regular live music.
Comes and Goes
Comes and Goes at 259 Jackson St is the new kid on the block and they are making some delicious food. They focus on breakfast and brunch and serve an eclectic take on classics. It looks like they are also about to be open for Dinners – that will be something to definitely check out. We had the banh mi and waffles. Both delicious. Oh, and they do very good coffee.
La Bella Italia
La Bella Italia is the local Petone Italian Grocery Store. Actually, that is a bit deceptive. It is a grocery store, and also a great place to get delicious Italian food. It is a busy place that has a bustling vibe about it. They often have cooking classes and demonstrations. During the week they sometimes have someone playing the piano, which brings a lovely atmosphere.
On Trays has to be the best providores in the Wellington region. Located just off the main drag it is a place you must visit if you are in Petone. They have an amazing range of cheeses, meats and deli products, wine, sweets and the list goes on and on – and on the weekends’ fresh bread. They supply restaurants around town so you know their produce is quality. They have some really lovely touches – when you walk through the door they ask if you want a coffee, and by the time you hit up the cheese counter it is sitting there waiting for you (for free). They do excellent taste tests of cheeses and meats you may want to buy, and a very knowledgeable about their product. We have often been caught in the vortex of caffeine-induced cheese tasting and walked out with way too much delicious goodness for two people. You have been warned! They are closed on Sunday and get very very busy on Saturday.
What to do
Spending time wandering up Jackson St and checking out all the great places to eat is an excellent way to spend the afternoon. Grab some delicious goodies from OnTrays and head to the beach, or park up with a beer at Sprig and Fern. There are plenty of small boutiques popping up along Jackson St, check out Wanda Harland, Goodness, Scintilla, Deryn Schmidt.
Head down to the Esplanade and walk along the beach – even when it is wet and wild it is worth checking out. It is also a great place to people watch – there is always plenty of activity going on. Be warned though, the water can be very cold – even in the height of Summer – so swimming is for the brave.
So, hopefully this has given you a bit more information about visiting Petone, Lower Hutt. It is well worth a visit – some great places to stay and some excellent places to dine at! If you are in the lower North Island of New Zealand or visiting Wellington, do take some time out of your day to visit Petone.