New Zealand Coast: Kuaotunu Beach + Luke’s Kitchen

Kuaotunu Beach 3

During the six weeks I spent in the Coromandel Peninsula, a trip to Kuaotunu Beach and Luke’s Kitchen became a weekly tradition. About a 30 to 45 minute drive from Coromandel Town to the other side of the peninsula, up a typical New Zealand gravelly, twisty, mountain road (State Highway 25), there’s an impressive view from the top before you dip back down into the valley. Take a left on Black Jack Road, and you’ll be in Kuaotunu, the land of beach, wood-fired pizza, and humongous ice cream cones.

The beach is enjoyed by the locals with dog walks, horseback rides, and picnics. There may also be a camper van or two parked on the grassy knoll above the beach. To the left of the beach is another grassy area with a picnic table, trees, swing, and a little bridge running over a small tributary. Fair warning, though, that the beach is often extremely windy.

“Make Pizza, Not War” is the motto of Luke’s Kitchen, a four-year-old restaurant that “uses fresh, locally sourced fish, fruit and vegetables to create pizzas, wraps and snacks”. Luke’s is a café on one side open during the day connected via a courtyard to an open-air tiki bar that often has live music playing at night. I had the opportunity to try the food at both locations (purely for research purposes, of course), and can tell you that whether it’s their quiche, frittata, wood-fired pizza, tacos, or fish and kumara (sweet potato) chips (my personal favorite), Luke’s has some of the best food I tasted in that part of the country. Their desserts aren’t bad either!

Last but not least, if you’re an ice cream fan, go to the deli (what New Zealand calls the 7-11/bodega type of store) around the corner from Luke’s Kitchen and grab a cone. They’re humongous! And you can actually get one that’s a double cone, as in one cone with two completely separate STACKS of ice cream. Enough to put anyone in a diabetic coma. 🙂

As I said, this became a weekly tradition, so enjoy some pictures of my friends and me enjoying ourselves at the beach.

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