Kaikoura is located about 113 miles north of Christchurch and was once a whaling station in South Island, New Zealand. This coastal town is framed by snow-peaked mountains, rugged coastlines and black beaches. Kaikoura’s main industry in the mid-1800s was hunting sperm whales for oil. Today, tourists are taken by boat for whale watching tours or to swim with the Dusky dolphins.
The word ‘kai’ means food and ‘koura’ means crayfish in Maori. Kaikoura has an abundance of seafood like crayfish, mussels and butterfish. Crayfish is the recommended food in town and there is one place that most people (including the long distance bus drivers we met from Christchurch to Kaikoura) will point you: Nin’s Bin!
Nin’s Bin is a stationary old campervan/caravan that was converted into a restaurant. It has been around since the 70s. This family owned restaurant by the sea must have influenced the many coffee caravans in Kaikoura that look almost like the iconic Nin’s Bin.
About four coffee caravans with chalkboard signs were parked in front of houses and shops along Beach Road in Kaikoura. On the chalkboards were the types of coffee served along with their prices. You’ll find flat white, espresso, cappuccino and fresh brewed coffee. Some of these coffee caravans even provide Wi-Fi for their guests. Retro Espresso and The Owl Express had limited seats for customers.
Caravan-style cafes are not uncommon in New Zealand. You can find them in Christchurch, Wellington, Rotorua and even in Auckland.
There are three Retro Espresso caravans in Auckland and one is located just outside the exit doors at the Auckland Airport’s International terminal. These caravans look nothing like the Retro Espresso on Beach Street Kaikoura. Auckland’s Retro Espresso stores are caravans made to specifications for the company. Retro Espresso’s coffee caravans are made of stainless steel and polished aluminum, and they are not the old converted caravans.
The company is expanding. You can read more about Retro Espresso concept and expansion here.