At Picnicka with Marie and Nick

14 June 2022

Main image: Head Chef Perrin.

Story by Millie Pidwell


A lot of people are talking about Picnicka – our city centre’s newest dining destination. Where is it? What is it? Could something so good really be nestled in amongst all that scaffolding and construction work at the top of Devonport Road?

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marie and Nick of the Clarence Hospitality group one week after Picnicka had opened its doors and all these questions were answered, and more. If there is one word I would use to sum up Picnicka upon first impressions, it would be “unique”.


​@Jay Drew photography, Instagram: Jay._.Drew. Pictured are staff members Brie and Brittany.


I accessed Picnicka’s entrance through Farmers. Stepping from the bright lights and cashmere into the bustling, cosy, warmly lit, and exceptionally well-designed restaurant, I suddenly felt as though I was in a European tapas bar. I could see the chefs working their magic and smell exotic flavours coming from the oyster bar, Argentinian Grill, and blazing open wood fire. To my right people sat at bars and cosy cushioned areas, all enjoying the sharing plates and welcoming atmosphere.


​@Jay Drew photography, Instagram: Jay._.Drew


I sat down to chat with Marie – Marketing Manager for Clarence Hospitality Group, and Nick – Restaurant Manager for Picnicka. Let’s just say I stayed for lunch.

I wanted to know what makes Picnicka stand out from other eateries and who’s behind this successful empire. Throughout our conversation it became abundantly clear that people are at the heart of Picnicka. Owners Noel and Kim have created a family atmosphere for their staff and their customers. They value people and service above all else when it comes to hospitality. Marie tells me, “Picnicka is for everyone. This is not traditional fine dining, it’s a space for people to relax, socialise, eat, drink, and share in an experience that is memorable. Excellent, attentive, respectful service by our staff is so important to that experience”.

Nick continued by saying, “We listened to our customers, particularly in the first week of opening. We want to know how we can do better and constantly evolve to ensure people always leave with an even bigger smile on their face than when they arrived”.

This recipe seems to be working, because after just one week, Picnicka already have over 100 bookings for Saturday night. This, it would seem, is the place to be in Tauranga.

​@Jay Drew photography, Instagram: Jay._.Drew. Pictured left: Nick and Marie. Right: Owners Kim and Noel. 


Nick and Marie tell me that owners Noel and Kim are inspired by their travels overseas and experience in hospitality in Italy and other European countries. They wanted to bring a different dining vibe to Tauranga city centre, one with a focus on sharing plates, and flavours from across the globe. European influences are in every detail… the menu ranges from Tempura Oysters to Crayfish Buns, Almond Croissants, Wagyu Bavette, Campfire Smores….and if you’re wanting more of a taste of home, try the Nature Spiced Pavlova. Marie tells me that the people who work at Picnicka are from all over the world too, so they have their own influence on the food and atmosphere at Picnicka.


@Jay Drew photography, Instagram: Jay._.Drew


So, what’s next?

“We’re waiting for the scaffolding to be removed from the outside of Thirty-Eight Elizabeth Street, then our outdoor garden dining area will be installed. There will be more seating and a view overlooking the city from the large windows that open to the newly developed streetscape below”. Nick.

Nick tells me he is also excited about a deli they will open in the future selling local produce and ingredients used on the Picnicka menu, “this will be perfect for those living in the apartments in the building”.

A date hasn’t been set for the deli yet, however it’s fantastic to know that the Clarence Hospitality Group have not finished yet. With 4 popular restaurants in Tauranga alone, what can’t this team achieve?

Make a booking today for your next meeting, lunch date, birthday bash, or enjoy a quite bite alone… like I did over a delectable Autumn Vegetable Cassoulet, Cannellini Bean, Marinated Feta dish. Delicious.

Based on my first impression, I can’t recommend Picnicka highly enough.


Cocktail image: ​@Jay Drew photography, Instagram: Jay._.Drew.