At the recent Kapiti Airport rally hosted by Beach FM, Otaki MP Nathan Guy said the airline issue is not only about trying to get our residents north, it’s also about enticing Aucklanders south to “share the treasure of Kapiti Island, to play a round of golf, to enjoy our beaches, our food and beverages.”
To mark Air New Zealand’s last flight from Paraparaumu next Tuesday morning and because we’re an inquisitive bunch at Beach FM, we decided to investigate what it would take to get Aucklanders to throw some Abercrombie & Fitch essentials into their Prada cabin luggage for a weekend of golfing and dining on the Kapiti Coast.
Acutally, partly because that brief was too broad, but mostly because it was nearly knock-off time and we’re a local community radio station with no budget for 'investigative journalism', we just Googled it.
So we looked at the restaurant reviews penned by Aucklanders of the Top 3 Paraparaumu eateries (as deemed by Trip Adviser), confident we’d get a reasonable handle on what would coax those convertible-driving, pinot gris-swilling Jafas south to enjoy our warm and embracing hospitality.
The result of our research is not only revealing and compelling, it’s unscientific and highly suspect.
Marine Parade Eatery
According to Trip Adviser, Paraparaumu’s No #1 restaurant is the Marine Parade Eatery. Of their 174 reviews, 62% concluded it was Excellent and 31% opted for Very Good. But what did the folk from north of the Bombay Hills think?
Janette was the first Aucklander to feature, with a 5 out of 5-star review that described staff as “super” and the restaurant as “a gorgeous little place”. She highly recommended the Eatery and “will definitely call in again next time we come this way”. If Nathan Guy has his way, that’ll be every Friday afternoon on an Air Chathams flight.
Linda also gave the Eatery 5-stars, commenting on the décor – “lots of pastel colour(s), a sense of beachiness and relaxation and just overall feeling of nostalgia”. Is that an Auckland way of saying ‘staff are slow and décor is dated’? Unlikely, as she clearly had a positive experience, describing her “salad breakfast with haloumi, lentils, greens, red onion, asparagus and much more, topped off with poached eggs” as sumptuous - definitely an Aucklander.
Trudy is obviously a woman in a hurry - probably a 4-hours a day Audi commuter - her 5-star review was brisk and blunt: “Lovely food, great coffee. Fast prompt service. Reasonable prices. Great location.” Badda bing badda boom.
Aucklanders are evidently used to getting their own way, if Jillianta is anything to go by: “Next time when we book we will ask for the corner table at the front.” Yeah, ok, good luck with that. We want an airline that hangs around for a while, makes a long-term commitment, do you see us complaining? Ok, bad example, it was the way our national carrier pulled out that got us riled up. Grrrr.
Our No #2 restaurant according to Trip Adviser is The Social. But Catherine of Arrogant, erm, of Auckland, clearly didn’t think that status correct. Her 3-star review complained of “too much deep-fried food on offer. Quite fatty and not many healthy options. Ok and tasty but not a place to go out of (your) way to visit again”.
The good folk at The Social were very restrained in their response: “… we're sorry this didn't agree with you. Once again we appreciate all feedback.” The temptation to reply 'you’re at a gastropub, what do you expect, you Mt Eden muppet?' must have been palpable.
However, The Social got 5-star ratings from other Aucklanders, many of them not only remembering the names of the staff but praising them for the service. Rare achievement indeed, our northern cousins usually can’t remember the names of their au pairs, personal shoppers or mother’s sister. 'Aunt, that’s right, Aunt someone …'
Another Aucklander review was intriguing: “very good food and service, atmosphere okay, no complaints from our group of 18 all senior citizens on tour.”
Apart from the fact this pensioner clearly doesn’t know there’s a caps feature on their computer, the mind boggles, what sort of 'tour' was this geriatric group on when they happened upon The Social? Did a Rolling Stones tribute act pop into Paraparaumu unannounced, then whip into The Social for a quick fry-up? If they had, you’d think it would be a rubbish review because they can’t get no satisfaction.
Finally, what did Aucklanders think of our No #3 rated establishment, the Ambience Café? Well, boom, an Aucklander called Keith was there only 3 days ago, maybe even as a result of Nathan Guy’s plea.
Keith wrote a complimentary review that said “my photo doesn't do it justice”, then gave the café 4 stars. What the fudge? It was either a really garbage photo or Keith doesn’t know what justice means.
Another Auckland reviewer called Rested, lived up to their name by writing “as other reviews say …”. This Aucklander was so rested and chilled, they couldn’t even be bothered to begin a review with some original thoughts.
While dated because Ambience have since moved, a review by a Hamiltonian – it’s virtually South Manukau anyway – deserves special mention. It seems to have been written by a Police officer addressing a Judge with a description of the crime scene: Your Honour, I … “Called in to have lunch at this cafe on a weekday after departing from central Wellington and prior to travelling North. This establishment is aptly named since it does indeed have a relaxing atmosphere to savour the culinary fare. We entered the cafe off Seaview Road and my elderly mother had to negotiate stairs to descend into the cafe - but, it was well worth the effort. We subsequently realised that easy access was available from the other end of the café.”
The Ambience Café was sentenced to a 5-star rating and the reviewer has been charged with Impersonating a Restaurant Critic.
So what insights can we glean from this highly unscientific analysis? It seems Aucklanders aren’t terribly different to the rest of us, they’re after great food, a welcoming atmosphere and excellent service. Stuff the Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua region can offer in spades – if only we had a regular Auckland to Paraparaumu air service to get them here.
The region is ready to roll out the red carpet for the airline that makes a commitment to our community and our message to Aucklanders is simple - bring it on!
All content in quotes is from actual Trip Adviser reviews by Aucklanders.