Penguino Ice Cream Cafe Review

The Shop: Penguino Ice Cream Cafe
Location: Nelson, New Zealand

Penguino Ice Cream Cafe Ice Cream
Coffee cream and kawakawa ice cream at Penguino Ice Cream Cafe.

Today we were in Nelson, a city in the north of New Zealand’s South Island.  Nelson has a nice small-town feel, some delicious food, and a beach that is walkable from downtown.  Claiming to be the sunniest city in New Zealand, it’s actually the Craft Beer Capital of New Zealand because it’s the only place in New Zealand where hops are grown (stay tuned for our next blog, Craft Beer International!).  Naturally, because of all the sunshine, Nelson is definitely a good place to get ice cream. We went to Penguino Ice Cream Cafe, a cute penguin-themed cafe which is the only shop in Nelson that received gold and silver awards at the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards.

Penguino Ice Cream Cafe Interior
Cute penguin themed interior.

To be frank, in our opinion, Penguino is not the best ice cream we’ve had in New Zealand.  However, they’re worth a visit for their unique flavors, and they also have more local New Zealand themed flavors than any other shop we visited. Some of the New Zealand themed flavors they had were:

Kiwifruit Sorbet

Feijoa and Ginger Sorbet: feijoa is an Australasian fruit that is often described as tasting like “perfume”

Pic’s Peanut Butter: Pic’s is a local Nelson peanut butter company that makes phenomenal peanut butter, jarring the peanuts within only minutes of roasting so the full roasted peanut flavor comes out

Manuka Honey (Kawakawa in Maori): a New Zealand honey claimed to be chock full of health benefits, so you can feel healthy while eating your ice cream

Penguino Ice Cream Cafe Flavors
The flavor lineup at Penguino Ice Cream Cafe.

Penguino Ice Cream Cafe also had many flavors they had won awards for at the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards.  Their “Salted Lychee Sorbet” and “Watermelon, Mint Leaf, and Chili Flakes Sorbet” won gold medals, and their “Coffee Cream” and “White Chocolate & Cheesecake” won silver.

Too many flavors to choose from?  They offer a nine scoop sampler for $18.  If we had been with more people, we definitely would have gotten it; we’re still questioning if we should have gotten it anyway.  This is also a nice option because they only allow you three free samples, which incidentally, is our main complaint with Penguino.  What ice cream shop is so stingy to only allow you three samples, especially when you have more than three flavors that won awards? (And to be clear, we were the only ones in the entire shop, we weren’t exactly holding up the line.)

We ended up getting the Coffee Cream and the Manuka Honey, both of which were nice.  The Manuka Honey was actually green because they make it using both the honey and the tree leaves.  The leaves are also supposed to contain health benefits and are used by Maori tribes in some medicines.  If we can find some manuka tree leaves, we’ll have to try to recreate the flavor.

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