Ice cream shops in Auckland are serious business. Everybody has their faves, and they’re going to be very vocal about their feelings and make sure you think it’s one of your favourites too.
So I’m going to admit it up front: I don’t agree with the majority of those rankings of “Auckland’s best ice cream.” Auckland has several big-name ice cream shops that have gained superstar status. They’ve laid the groundwork for Auckland to become a fertile ground for homemade ice cream shops with innovative ingredients and flavour combinations. And for this, I am grateful.
The ice cream at some of these locations can be argued as “good”, but the “best”? That’s where I draw the line...
Initially, I wondered what was wrong with me, because, at most of these ice cream spots, zealots would frequently claim they had a life-changing flavour profile. But then I’d visit and find it very middle of the road. Sure — at some of these places, the location or childhood memories makes the spot, but that doesn’t make them the best.
So I wanted to think very hard about the places I would deem the best ice cream shops in Auckland. There were only just a handful out of the hundreds across the city that I would suggest to my foodie friends as locations they can not skip while in Auckland.
And here they are—my highly controversial list of the best ice cream shops in Auckland.
Before jumping right in with my curated picks of Auckland’s best ice cream shops, I believe it’s important to know what I’m anticipating from my ice cream.
To rank as the “best” ice cream, it is required to do the following:
- Be creamy. I have no time for ice-y ice cream. That’s just not how its meant to be.
- Have an intense flavour. If I have to stand around going “flavour think I can get a hint of that flavor”, then your ice cream isn’t for me.
- Must not taste artificial. I can’t stand flavours that don’t taste like the real thing. I know what mango and strawberries taste like, and I won’t be fooled.
- Be consistently good. Each batch must taste the same or similar. I can’t have people coming back complaining to me after I make a recommendation.
I already said that there’s a lot of ice cream shops in Auckland that are potentially pleasant. I’m not going to discredit the hard work that they put in their ice cream or, in some cases, their fruitful attempts to put Auckland on the world ice cream map. It’s just that they would not feature in any serious conversation about Auckland’s best ice cream shops because they don’t fulfil one or more of my ice cream standards. Life is to short to lick less-than-amazing ice cream.
So let’s continue with my definitive compilation of what I believe is Auckland’s best ice cream shops to visit. If there’s one you’re thinking about but don’t find it on this page, it’s fair to say I don’t feel they’re the greatest. Sorry.
287 Queen Street, Auckland CBD
A Sydney important, Aqua S has been a viral sensation in Auckland since it opened in 2018 serving innovative flavours and hyper-Instagrammable artistic treats.
Located in the heart of the CBD, Aqua S Ice cream is a hole-in-the-wall selling soft serve with three unique and interesting flavours. Their signature sea salt soft serve is also on offer, while the two other different flavour options that change on the 1st and 16th of the month.
The current flavours are scrawled on the window outside, temping you in as you walk by. Recent offerings have been Apple Pie, Coconut Pandan and Elderflower Blueberry. You also have the option of adding fun toppings to the soft-serve like popcorn, popping candy and candy floss, which I highly recommend to make your dessert into a true work of art
The soft serve is delicious and oh-so-creamy, and the flavours are strong but not overpowering. There isn’t much space in the store, but you can enjoy in nearby Aotea Square or Albert Park.
184 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD
A fun spot on K’Road, this is New Zealand’s first Rolled Ice Creamery and inspired by Thai street vendors. Opened in 2016, Bangkok Rolled Ice Cream is made from scratch using the finest local ingredients and is stabilizer-free, egg-free & has dairy-free options.
The concept is a little different, but they put their homemade ice cream bases on a -30°C cold plate and mix it with real fruits and nuts right in front of your eyes. This means they can produce smaller ice molecules to make the freshest and the creamiest Rolled Ice Cream – and all in less than 3 minutes.
There are around 31 flavours, and you can also customize your ice cream by mixing flavours along with the toppings & sauces of your choice. Finally, the ice cream is served in either a homemade bubble waffle or dipped chocolate cone.
It’s all extremely fun, and delicious, and the fact that they are open until midnight each night is a bonus – making Bangkok Rolled Ice Cream a perfect after-dinner spot.
8 Osborne Street, Newmarket & 182 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
Now boasting two brick-and-mortar spots in Auckland (and more in their hometown of Hamilton), this fabulous ice cream operation is taking New Zealand by storm and expanding rapidly.
A whopping 28 flavours of ice cream and vegan ice cream are on offer daily, and flavours are changing all the time. Our current favourites are orange blossom chocolate chip, bourbon brown butter pecan and Matcha strawberry milk crumb – but each time we discover a new favourite flavour. In addition to home pints, ice cream tacos and sandwiches, there is also milkshakes and a fun ‘ice cream flight’ which is eight scoops so you can try plenty of flavours with friends.
The quality and consistency of the Duck ice cream itself is astonishing, and they do it all in a way that isn’t in your face or pretentious – despite their upmarket locations in Ponsonby and Newmarket. Seating is limited, and lines can be long at peak times, but Duck Island is always worth the wait.
12 Gore Street, Auckland CBD
Launched over a decade ago, and run by a husband and wife team, this operation combines premium New Zealand ingredients with ingenuity and imagination.
The result? An awe-inspiring offering that refuses to comply with the traditional meaning of ice cream and gelato that most people understand it to be. Giapo doesn’t focus exclusively on changing or creating new flavours, but also on changing its function by offering people different ways to interact with it.
An experience — to say the least — Giapo offers a walk-in experience which includes a guided tasting of all their flavours that will allow you time to sample them carefully before making your final choice.
All the ice cream flavours are hidden from display, creates a more compelling ice cream experience, and one that you will have nowhere else on Earth.
Island Gelato Co’s three, unfailingly charming, ice creameries are always a popular spot for innovative treats. And who can blame people for lining up to shove a handmade scoop of summery strawberry, prosecco and nougat, or Christmas nectarine, thyme & prosecco sorbet in their faces?
Started in Waiheke in 2014, the team behind Island Gelato Co are a creative bunch, focusing on inventing new sensational seasonal flavours and designing cool and funky spaces where customers can come, sit and enjoy a scoop or two. Creamy, crunchy chewy and zesty, there are over 70 plus flavours and weekly specials, all of which are lovingly created in-store daily.
If you happen to be in Waiheke for the day, their shipping container-store in Oneroa is a must, or you can find them in the Britomart Ferry Building or the Westfield Mall in Newmarket.
22 Jellicoe Street, Wynyard Quarter & 6 Morningside Drive, Morningside
Since opening in December 2017 through an innovation hub at Crave Café, Little’ Lato has been serving unique flavours such as Crumpet and Golden syrup and Massaman Curry from their aesthetically pleasing stores in Morningside and the Auckland Fish Market.
The absolute winners are their Lime, Coriander & Grapefruit Sorbet concoction and the Coconut Caramel Cashew flavour, which will please any gelato lover. On top of doling out ice cream, Little’ Lato is partnered with fine coffee purveyors at both locations so you can get a coffee fix at the same time!
The team at Little’ Lato will always give you an extra taste of their latest flavours — and all with an enthusiastic smile.
146 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby
The Organic Lalele Gelato is another place to get incredible gelato in Auckland. I stated above that I study for creaminess in ice cream. Gelato delivers this because it typically has a denser, creamier texture due to less air being consolidated into it when blended. Plus, gelato has fewer calories and fat because it is produced mostly with milk rather than cream. This means fat doesn’t cover the taste buds as much, so the flavours of gelato are stronger and vibrant.
This explains why Lalele is just so damn delicious. Their smooth rich and creamy espresso and chocolate gelato (made with real shots of Altezano Brother’s organic espresso and trade aid milk chocolate) is our favourite flavour. Still, the vegan rosemary, raspberry and coconut and the unusual wild-harvested Kawakawa sorbet are also fantastic.
Started in 2012, Lalele now has a store at Ponsonby Central and a permanent inside stall at Catalina Bay Farmers Market in Hobsonville —along with a little vintage gelato caravan you can spot at various Auckland events throughout the year.
Whipping up an unbelievable selection of petit gateaux, macarons, chocolates and gelato at both their Fort Street and Britomart stores (and their new Morningside Chocolate Factory), Miann has become the go-to place for unique ice cream-and-chocolate-inspired desserts in Auckland.
While you can slip out of the store with a scoop of Fiji 60% Dark Chocolate Gelato (with Pecan, Caramel, Brownie), or their celebrated Caramelised White Chocolate & Miso Gelato, it is hard to divert your eyes away from their Instagram-worthy plated desserts. Their edible Tiramisu cup, in particular, has achieved worldwide fame.
No matter your selection, the cosy atmosphere and excellent service ensure Miann is the ultimate destination for pure indulgence and a memorable ice cream experience.
31 Tyler Street, Auckland CBD
Tucked away in Britomart, Milse competes with nearby Miann for the title of Auckland’s dessert king — which can be rather confusing given how both are similarly named.
A secluded, contemporary dessert bar with striking, curved geometric lattice walls, Milse provides a tranquil atmosphere to enjoy a selection of seasonal and sweet edible-works-of-art. There are a few takeaway offerings including ice cream popsicles, but for the ultimate in ice cream indulgence, book a table (they get extremely busy) order their Lemon and Yogurt Bombe Alaska. It is pretty much gelato wrapped in a crunchy shell held together with roasted marshmallows — a flawless balance between sweet and tart.
The cappuccino ice cream slice and cornflake ice cream are also worthy choices.
22 The Promenade, Takapuna
A stroll along Takapuna Beach isn’t complete without a stop at the classic Takapuna Beach Cafe. In this wonderful seaside cafe with a small store, Takapuna Beach Cafe has its usual range of ice cream flavours plus one or two weekly specials.
Whilst their original range of Salted Caramel, Hazelnut and Double Chocolate is delicious; nothing beats their lemon curd ice cream in my opinion. Whatever your choice, grab it in a cone then over to the beach for some sun and relaxation during summer.
14 Lorne Street, Auckland CBD & Newmarket Westfield
While all these other ice cream shops in Auckland have a relatively modern history, Tsujiri dates back to D1860, when it was founded at the end of the ancient Edo period in Kyoto.
A household name in Japan and known around the world for its high-quality Matcha, Tsujiri is a surprising yet fun spot for soft-serve ice cream for lovers of green tea. Serving just two flavours, match and Hōjicha (another Japanese tea with a reddish-brown colour and a roasted fragrance), Tsujiri ice cream is not only delicious but fun – offering a variety of toppings and served in either a cup or cone.
A lighter alternative to your regular ice cream scoops, they have a beautiful CBD location on Lorne Street (a perfect follow up to any of the nearby Korean BBQs) or a smaller spot in the Westfield Newmarket.