Greg Bruce scours the city for its best icecream. What he finds may shock you - but probably not.
Takapuna Beach Cafe
22 The Promenade, Takapuna
Takapuna is a lovely place and a wealthy place but a cool place it's not and never has been. The only flavour even approaching "interesting" at Takapuna Beach Cafe is Banana Milk. The use of "milk" here is tautological at best. I knew this but couldn't prevent myself being enticed by it. This is the power of marketing: eating is about consuming ideas as much as flavours. Frustratingly, it did taste like banana milk, which made me feel gullible and stupid, which didn't taste good.
Arthur Nathan Building, 36-38 Galway St, Britomart
There are some vaguely interesting sounding flavours at Miann: S'mores, for instance; and white chocolate and passionfruit. The s'mores tasted more or less like chocolate and the passionfruit was nice but boring. For some reason, icecream has traditionally seen itself as above the problem of hedonic adaptation, satisfying its innovative drive with endless variations on chocolate. The Bombe Alaska, by contrast, was a riot of clashing flavours and textures, including gummy chunks of meringue and sweet slicks of bright red jam. I got bored with it after a few mouthfuls - but that's a few mouthfuls more than nothing.
12 Gore St, City
Upon arrival, you are forced to queue outside, not because of too many customers but because you need to be assigned a personal escort. In this way, the vibe is very much 1980s timeshare presentation. My escort was outwardly nice but it's hard to say what she'd have been like had I left without making a purchase. With their tablets and portable Eftpos machines, the staff hover over you like passive-aggressive middle-managers at your annual review, ostensibly there for support but obviously focused on shifting units. It became obvious after my third sample that I'd outstayed my welcome, so I ordered a pottle of the hokey pokey. It arrived capped with a half centimetre of chocolate and a thick coating of hokey pokey chunks. It was so far beyond traditional hokey pokey as to be a different food group. It took me a week to eat that pottle because I couldn't take more than three spoonfuls at a time - but what spoonfuls!
St Heliers Bay Cafe & Bistro
387 Tamaki Drive, St Heliers
The issue with fruit icecreams is what I call The Paradox of Authenticity. It's generally accepted that the measure of a good fruit icecream is "Tastes just like [name of fruit]!" but if you want something that tastes like a fruit, you are more likely to fulfill your desire by eating that fruit. This is obviously stuff I'd thought about deeply long before walking into St Heliers Bay Cafe but, when I tried their peach icecream, I simultaneously thought, "Tastes just like peach" and "Delicious!" In conclusion: As a means of assessing icecream, the Socratic method is a disaster.
Joshua's Ice Cream
8 Maheke St, St Heliers
I let my kids choose the flavours here. Big mistake. Clara  chose the strawberry sorbet. Sorbet is just frozen fruit juice. Of course it tasted nice. Big surprise, Clara! Casper  chose the chocolate, which, come on Casper, I know you're small but, really? Success in the icecream space these days is about imagination and, in that respect, at Joshua's, my children failed me.
22 Jellicoe St, Wynyard Quarter, City
Modern icecream divides into two basic flavour categories: winter (savoury, chocolate), and summer (fruit, vanilla). On a hot late spring day in the Wynyard Quarter I tried two summers (passionfruit and mango lassi) and a winter (peanut butter). The passionfruit tasted like passionfruit and although mango lassi is a great idea for an icecream, you shouldn't eat ideas. The peanut butter was objectively an elevation of the form - a creamy mess of stickiness and thick peanuts - but, seasonally, it was a disaster.
Ferry Building, 4A 99 Quay St, City
The rigours of New Zealand advertising law means one has to assume the pistachios in the Sicilian pistachio icecream were really from Sicily, but was their acquisition, import and inclusion in this icecream worth it? Are Sicilian pistachios better than, say, pistachios from Kumeū? Is their flavour superior? Do they more powerfully transport one to that region, with all its scenic beauty and mob violence? Do they perform better as a means of emotionally elevating one above the bustle of commuters heading back to their Devonport mansions after long, lucrative days in the corner offices of Auckland's law and finance hubs? Hard to say - I have never had pistachios from Kumeū.
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1-17 Jellicoe St, Wynyard Quarter, City
As I took my first hit of the grapefruit icecream, I registered delight but the more I ate, the less I liked. It was watery and not particularly rich with flavour. As I passed that judgment, however, the idea struck me that "rich with flavour" is not necessarily an intrinsic good but a subjective value judgment. It's possible to imagine a world in which "light on flavour" is equally sought-after, although, on second thoughts, it's not.
1/182 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby
If I'd visited Edgewater Dairy, Pakuranga, in 1987 and asked for any of the flavours currently available at Duck Island, I'd have been laughed all the way to Howick. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad we've moved on creatively and no icecreamery is currently more creative than Duck Island. It was a thrill, for instance, to discover their sourdough and burnt butter, because I love burnt butter and I eat a lot of sourdough, even though it makes me fart. It was a shame it wasn't nice. Of the other flavours I tried, the smoked almond tasted a bit fishy and the roasted white chocolate miso reminded me of a Christopher Nolan movie: supposedly complex; ultimately frustrating.
Beachfront Lane, Browns Bay
I was unsettled by the fact the young woman behind the counter kept calling me "My dear" as if I was 85, despite the fact I'm an extraordinarily young looking 43. On the plus side, she was friendly, engaged and the most knowledgeable icecreamist I've met. The menu at GingerSnap is broad, groaning with medals and includes a feijoa that tastes exactly like feijoa. My server advocated for the speculoos, a flavour based on the traditional Belgian/Dutch Christmas biscuit featuring cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and so on. The diversity of flavour, the textural variety of the biscuit inclusions, the ability to sustain one's interest through an entire scoop - this was creamy pretension at its best. I ate about half of it.