Make up for lost time over lockdown and head to Waiheke for the day or rent a house and settle in for a few nights. Auckland’s jewel in the crown always delivers gorgeous beaches, delicious food, sometimes a bit too much wine but always fun in spades. And even though it’s winter the island is open for business. Here’s our hit-list of what do and where to eat:
Go for a Glorious Walk
Did you know Waiheke has over 100km of walking trails? If the hills are a bit too daunting, be sure to stroll on the golden sands of one of the island’s gorgeous beaches. Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi beaches are firm favourites.
Hit the Shops
Oneroa has become home to some chic retail: Greatest Friend has cool, hipster vintage finds; or try The Tailor and his Lover for linen tailoring and Waiheke Central Supply for multi-brand, coastal cool. Visit locals' favourite Timmy Smith for unique jewellery pieces. Last minute gift? Try Island Design for nostalgic kiwiana or Veranda for stylish homewares.
Visit the Ostend Market
No visit to Waiheke is complete without a trip to this Saturday morning market. From delicious juices to sampling locally made honey, the market provides an introspective cross section of Waiheke life, hippies and hipster included.
Dine at The Shed at Te Motu Vineyard
This low-key restaurant definitely packs a powerful foodie punch with a focus towards growers championing ethical, sustainable agrigulture. New Chef Yutak Son has just joined the team post lock-down, with a fantastic pedigree having earned his stripes at Orphans Kitchen, Sidart and Black Estate.
Sunday Roast at the Oyster Inn
Chef and new owner Josh Emett has just launched the Inn's legendary Sunday Roast, served with Yorkshire Puddings; duck fat & thyme roasted potatoes; cauliflower cheese; buttered greens, and cabbage with garlic confit. Excellent value at $35 (roast only), $45 (two courses), or $55 (three courses: starter, roast and dessert). Lot of other coastal deliciousness on the all-new menu too.
Slurp down a freshly shucked oyster. Head to Te Matuku's Seafood store in Ostend for some of the freshest oysters on the planet, plucked out of the water a few kilometres away in Te Matuku Bay and shucked onsite. If you're heading to the island they've everything you need to cook and prepare seafood and some delicious fresh fish on offer too.
Akito, a cool new "plant focused" café, has opened in Oneroa to the delight of vegans and vegetarians on the island. Try their jackfruit dahl with roast vegetables, coconut black rice, coriander and a buckwheat dosa. Yum.
Coffee and Cake
It's a family affair at Island Coffee where the lovely Burn clan Stephen, Jane and sons Finn and Tom roast and serve some of the best coffee in the Hauraki complimented with the most indulgent pastries and cakes from Little Tart Bakery.
Tantalise at Tantalus
This Cheshire-designed vineyard restaurant has firmly cemented its position and reputation as the classiest joint in town. On a recent visit before lock-down the snapper & scampi cake drew audible gasps of appreciation.
Hold court at The Courtyard
Chef Brent Mills tucked away spot, The Courtyard, is popular with locals who love his delicious handmade pastas.
Give Surfdale a Whirl
Newly opened Bisou serves up fantastic crepes, pastries and baguettes, co-owned by Jane Raybould of Frenchot fame. Next door Found's eclectic interior is a locals' favourite for coffee, an after dinner cocktail and everything in between.
Sample the delicious fare at Three Seven Two
Perfectly positioned front row on Onetangi Beach, chef Bronwyn Laight’s inventive menu is produce driven and seasonal, with delicious options for vegetarians.
Get a taste of Europe
Take the Family
Wild Estate's vineyard restaurant has a huge cosy fire and a menu with pizzas and something for everyone.
Grab an e-bike and zip around the island with a smaller carbon footprint.