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If you find yourself in Auckland with time on your hands, why not head to Waiheke for the day, or rent a house and settle in for a few nights
The jewel in Auckland’s 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 a hit-list of what do and where to eat. —
Go for a walk
Did you know Waiheke has more than 100km of walking trails? If the hills are a bit too daunting, be sure to stroll along the golden sands of one of the island’s gorgeous beaches. Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi beaches are firm favourites.
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.
Grab an e-bike and zip around the island with a smaller carbon footprint.
Grab something to eat
Dine at The Shed at Te Motu Vineyard
This low-key restaurant definitely packs a powerful foodie punch with a focus on growers championing ethical, sustainable agriculture. New chef Yutak Son has a fantastic pedigree, having earned his stripes at Orphans Kitchen, Sidart and Black Estate.
Chef and new owner Josh Emett has just launched the Inn’s Sunday roast, served with Yorkshire puddings, duck fat and 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’’ cafe, has opened in Oneroa, to the delight of vegans and vegetarians on the island. Try their jackfruit dhal 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, complemented with the most indulgent pastries and cakes from Little Tart Bakery.
This Cheshire-designed vineyard restaurant has firmly cemented its position and reputation as the classiest joint in town. On a recent visit before lockdown, the snapper and 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
Co-owned by Jane Raybould, of Frenchot fame, newly opened Bisou serves up fantastic crepes, pastries and baguettes. 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
First, head to Casita Miro, where chef Rensha Bouwer does the best tapas this side of Madrid, then head to what looks like a Tuscan idle at Poderi Crisci, whose famous long lunch is legendary.
Take the family
Wild Estate’s vineyard restaurant has a huge cosy fire and a menu with pizzas and something for everyone.