How to Spend a Day in Petone, Lower Hutt

Old buildings lined up in a row on a street.

Nestled along the picturesque shores of Wellington Harbour, Pito-one, or Petone, is a suburb of Lower Hutt offering a well-blended happy mix of old-world charm and modern-day sophistication. Its seaside location adds to its natural allure and its historic main street exudes a charm that is often hard to come by in small towns — or in this case, suburbs.

Petone is popular both as a place to visit and a place to live — which shouldn’t be surprising given its abundance of outdoor activities, boutique shops and well-regarded eateries. Petone is also easy enough to get to: it is well connected to Wellington by train and the bus network has frequent routes. 

Whether you’re after something to eat, somewhere new to explore, or just want to escape the fast-paced rituals of the country’s capital, our guide below will help you experience the best of what Petone has to offer.


An easy way to orient yourself in Petone is to use the ocean. The road running nearest to the water is The Esplanade, and a few streets over (parallel to The Esplanade) is Jackson Street — Petone’s main street, lined with a multitude of well-preserved historic buildings, shops and eateries.
The Esplanade in Petone.

The Esplanade

Walking or cycling the ever-improving Esplanade is a popular pastime with locals and visitors alike. A pathway runs alongside the ocean, offering a number of playgrounds, picnic areas, and sights along the way. The Esplanade is home to the Petone Settlers Museum, the boating club, Seashore Cabaret cafe and, of course, the beach. The relatively calm ocean is inviting to families on a calm sunny day, and there’s a section of the beach designated for dogs. The views across the city are almost unmatched, and it's possible to watch the ferries coming and going from the Cook Strait.

The Petone Settlers Museum on a sunny day.

Petone Settlers Museum

Halfway along The Esplanade is the Petone Settlers Museum. Dating back to the start of New Zealand’s documented history, Petone was originally home to several fortified Māori villages (a ‘pa’) before becoming Wellington’s first colonial settlement. The museum elaborates on this time period, as well as articulating many more tales of those who have made their homes in Petone throughout history. Entry to the museum is free but check online for opening hours. 

The deli at La Bella Italia.

Lighthouse Cinema & La Bella Italia

Staying indoors, Jackson Street is home to the Lighthouse Cinema, a boutique movie theatre showcasing not just the classics but plenty of independent screenings as well especially during film festivals. Alternatively, try your hand with a cooking class at La Bella Italia, a much loved Italian restaurant, deli and cooking school in Petone.  

Spring of Life // Te Puna Wai Ora

A unique Petone attraction is the Spring of Life, also known as Te Puna Wai Ora. The Spring of Life taps into the naturally filtered water supply running below the Hutt Valley, which is brought to the surface and able to be bottled free of charge. The artesian water fountain is located on Buick Street and is usually easy to spot due to the people waiting their turn, empty vessels in hand.

Food and drink

Seashore Cabaret

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160 The Esplanade, Petone, Lower Hutt

Conveniently located on The Esplanade is Seashore Cabaret, something of a Petone institution. Housed in the historic Petone rowing club, it's a fast-paced, retro-feeling diner with excellent views across the water. While the brunch menu is always hard to go past (think all the classics, done really well), the cabinet will also stop you in your tracks, as it overflows with goodies, both sweet and savoury. The coffee beans are the same as those roasted at the House of Good Fortune, just across town.

House of Good Fortune

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52 Fitzherbert Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

The House of Good Fortune is a quirky and delicious spot, serving some of the best coffee in town. And let’s not forget that it has the good fortune of keeping house in one of Petone’s cutest converted cottages.

Comes and Goes

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259 Jackson Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

Equally popular is the highly aesthetic Comes and Goes, situated on Jackson Street. The modern, highly photo-worthy dishes are equal parts beautiful and scrumptious, and the light, minimalistic feel of the cafe creates a relaxing vibe, despite it almost always being busy. The breakfast and lunch options are always slightly innovative, modern takes on traditional ideas, often injected with a soft touch of Asian fusion.

Baylands Brewery and Taproom & Gear Street Union

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22 Victoria Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

While the Baylands Brewery and Taproom have been in the business of making beer for a while now, it wasn’t until the worst of the pandemic had passed that the taproom opened for custom. A welcoming, vibrant space serving a huge variety of beer on tap in addition to a family-friendly tasty menu, Baylands Brewery and Taproom is the ultimate place to spend an afternoon.  Only a few blocks over, Gear Street Union is a burger bar housed in the old Wellington Motorcycles building. Its expansive burger menu certainly pairs well with a pint, though the wide variety of options also makes it a popular brunch destination, too for both young and old.

Dirty Burger

Established back in 2019, the OG Dirty Burger operates with the goal of serving up the best burgers and sides in an upbeat environment that boasts a New York ‘old-school’ hip-hop vibe. And that it does: the flagship store is dedicated to the infamous rapper The Notorious B.I.G., so do not leave without taking a selfie!

Viva Mexico

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93 Jackson Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

Another seriously great Petone option is Viva Mexico. Everything about it is incredibly and deliciously authentic. From the atmosphere, the food (both taste and presentation) and even the snippets of Spanish you’ll hear about the place, it’s not hard to imagine that you’re in Mexico! Foodwise, the tacos are always a good bet, but if you’re feeling hungry, the chilaquiles is a dish (similar to a fried burrito) that will top you right up.


Wandering Jackson Street is an absolute must when in Petone and not just for its striking architecture. From vintage clothing to vinyl, crystal stores to UK sweets, there’s a huge number of wonderfully diverse independent stores and boutiques lining Jackson Street. It would be remiss to not cover both sides of the street, but there are definitely a few particular shops that are worth checking out.

Goodness Boutique

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131 Jackson Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

Those who appreciate well-made clothing will enjoy Goodness Boutique, which is housed in a newly earthquake-strengthened (but lovingly restored) heritage building. Goodness offers a curated selection of clothing, accessories and shoes sourced from an array of quality brands, such as Scotch and Soda, Noa Noa, Nice Things Paloma and Veja.

Wanda Harland Design Store

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148 Jackson Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

Nearby, Wanda Harland is a Jackson Street store that sells a range of sustainable home goods designed to last the distance. They are not just quality, they’re also timeless, and given that they are ethically sourced, you can feel (and look) good owning them. Discover brands such as Kowtow, Twenty-Seven Names, Shjark and Thing Thing and enjoy a wide range of quality knick-knacks that you didn’t know you needed.

The Chocolate Story

For those wanting a sweet treat or afternoon pick-me-up, The Chocolate Story is the place to go. If the smell doesn’t lure you in, the daintily lined rows of chocolates surely will. The chocolates are made on-site and there is a wide assortment of individual truffles as well as many options for gifting. To prolong your stay, order one of their decadent cups of hot chocolate.

Schrödinger's Books

137 Jackson Street, Petone, Lower Hutt

If losing yourself in the sweetness of chocolate doesn’t appeal, perhaps the indulgent smell of new books will. Schrödinger's Books is a notably well-stocked, enticing bookshop at the heart of Jackson Street, located within a beautifully restored space. Bringing not just quirky, classic and interesting books to the area, Schrödinger's Books also offers a sense of belonging by regularly hosting events to celebrate and foster a love for reading in people young and old.

The Dutch Shop

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89 Jackson Street, Petone, Wellington

Of course, no trip to Petone is complete without a visit to The Dutch Shop. Offering a truly authentic representation of The Netherlands, the laden shop is filled with liquorice, cheese, deli meat, homewares and plenty of other Dutch products.