On Sunday 15 February, an estimated 20,000 people will descend on Island Bay’s Shorland Park and the surrounding coastal area. They’ll be there for Day in the Bay, the main event during the suburb’s annual Island Bay Festival. Attendees are treated to a full day of food stalls, craft stands, live music, variety shows and group activities. It’s the perfect opportunity to soak up some well-deserved sun on the grass or down at the beach.
Once you’re there, why not go swimming? If you’re visiting from the city, chances are you’ll be heading up or down The Parade, Island Bay’s main strip. There is a lot going on along this storied road and a trip to the festival is the perfect excuse to make further discoveries.
When you’re headed to Shorland Park, one of the first places that sticks out is Paradise Seafoods, at number 67 on The Parade. A delightful old English-style fish ’n’ chip shop, it specialises in burgers as big as your head, fresh fish and hearty, chunky fries to match. I stopped off there for a chat, but instead I ended up having the most filling crumbed chicken-breast burger I’ve had in my life, and bantered in between flavoursome bites with a regular nicknamed Macca. “It’s the best burger spot in town,” Macca, a house painter by day and powerlifter by night, enthuses. “It’s fresh, reasonably priced and the portions are big. Basically, it’s lovely mate. I love the fish, the crabsticks and the pāua fritters. I come here twice a week.”
Further on down the line, when you hit the Island Bay Shopping Centre, The White Room Gallery at 147 The Parade stands out — a veritable treasure trove of affordable, hand-made items for gifts and home. They stock beautiful stationery, organic textiles, items made from wood, wool, clay, stone, leather, flax and metal. The White Room Gallery also display, promote and sell works by local visual artists alongside the gift section. “For me, it’s not about profit, it’s about involvement in the community,” owner Fran Dysart explains. “We’re an advocate for local creativity. We have a fantastic location and the community have embraced us. It’s a win–win.”
KoruHub, which homes Koru Health and Wellbeing, has just moved to 118 The Parade. It has three health practitioner rooms and is fronted by a gift shop which sells essential oils, natural NZ skincare products, as well as the work of local artists. The health modalities practiced there, include: aromatherapy, deep tissue and pregnancy massage; counselling; reflexology; ayurvedic medicine; reiki, esogetic colour puncture and shiatsu. “We are often described as a haven, a sanctuary — a place to revive the senses,” says Alex Rodriguez who helps run the centre as well as practising reflexology, massage and Reiki. “People love that we’re local and working to support the health and fabric of our community.”
Several doors further south, you’ll find a delightful family-friendly pub called Brew’d. They specialise in quality beers, burgers and pizzas, as well as family nights and community fundraisers. It’s the perfect suburban combination of somewhere to eat, drink and soclaise with friends. With an open, friendly feel and even friendlier staff, it’s hard to imagine not feeling welcome there. As the manager Helena Gill enthuses, “We opened with the perception that we’d be a pub, but I think we surprised people with the quality and variety of our food. People come in for food; everyone loves our burgers and pizzas.”
Open from 3pm to 11pm from Monday to Thursday, and for brunch from Friday to Sunday, Brew’d also hosts quiz nights and numerous other fundraising events for the community and its locals. The place is pretty swell.
Just around the corner at 6 Medway Street sits Island Bay New World, run for the last 16 months by third-generation grocer Amanda Elliot. It’s a colourful and vibrant supermarket, the sort where you don’t feel the need to rush in and out. If you’re a local, chances are you’ll end up trading stories with a friend or two during your shop. “Historically speaking, the grocery store was the heart of the community,” Amanda says. “Today we still are, but in a larger premise. It’s really cool to have this role in the community.” Heavily involved, Island Bay New World supports and helps local playgroups, kindergartens, schools and community groups where they can. They also specialise in gluten-free, dairy-free and locally made produce, as well as craft beers.
Head down to 296 The Parade and you’ll arrive at Illusions Beauty Sanctuary. A one-stop beauty therapy centre for men and women, Illusions offers a comprehensive range of services delivered with a personal touch and passion. “We like our clients to think of Illusions Beauty as their little relaxing space,” explains owner Tina King. “Our wish is for clients to feel as if they are escaping their busy lives for a moment to rest, be pampered and leave feeling restored. It’s a personalised experience that is all about them.” Illusions’ services include facials, massage and body treatments, waxing, electrolysis, manicures and pedicures, tints, eyes, makeup and more. “I love owning a business and living in Island Bay,” Tina continues. “It’s a fantastic community to be part of. People are so friendly and giving.”
If you haven’t spent time there already, why not spend a weekend afternoon in Island Bay and discover the suburb for yourself? Day in the Bay would be a splendid jumping-off point, but if you’re looking for a reason to visit, why wait?