If Nantucket and Napa had a baby, it would look something like Waiheke Island. While less well known in American circles, Waiheke is a popular weekend getaway spot for Kiwis, offering both lazy days on the beach and over two dozen wineries, many of which boast beautiful views of Aukland and the surrounding islands. We love visiting popular vacation destinations during their shoulder seasons, when everything is still open but the streets are much quieter and you can have the soft sands of beautiful beaches like Oneroa all to yourself…
So last month, after a five day road trip around the north island of New Zealand, we hopped aboard a ferry in Aukland bound for Waiheke. As the ferry departed, Auckland’s skyline opened up before us and with the New Zealand flag waving in the breeze, we sped past other smaller islands towards Waiheke’s shores.
The ferry pulls into port just a couple streets away from the main town of Oneroa. A taxi was waiting for us when we alighted to help take us the short distance to The Oyster Inn – our home for the next two nights. On the way to the property, we passed half of town, including the library, butcher, bank, and a few boutiques with home goods that I earmarked for returning later that day!
The Oyster Inn is a coastal hideaway with three beautiful guest rooms and one of New Zealand’s top restaurants serving the best seafood in town. Owner-operators, Jonathan and Andrew infused the property with their impeccable design sense and the subtly nautical interiors are a perfect match for their island home, tempting day trippers to miss the last ferry out and stay the night.
Our favorite moments on Waiheke all centered around food. We tried local Te Matuku Bay oysters for lunch at The Oyster Inn, and David and I agree they were our new favorite oyster. We also enjoyed the beer-battered hauraki gulf fish and triple-cooked chips, when we saw fish and chips were a favorite local dish throughout New Zealand. On our second night on the island, we tried a local craft brewery called Cove, for a casual meal and loved their signature IPA, calamari and local mussels.
Waiheke charms with it’s simple coastal lifestyle, and though small, the island is home to over two dozen wineries — too many to explore thoroughly during our short stay but we loved Mudbrick Winery best. Mudbrick’s estate extends to the highest point on Waiheke, offering 360 degree views of the island and the beautiful clipped gardens surrounding the winery house and vineyards. You can either go visit their tasting room, or settle into a seat at their restaurant for lunch, wine, and beautiful views back towards Aukland.
Thank you Jonathan and Andrew for a wonderful stay at The Oyster Inn!
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com