And so it was that myself and six family members found ourselves on the car ferry gently chugging from Auckland’s Half Moon Bay to Waiheke’s Kennedy Point for a weekend of frivolity and hilarity. Sans children.
Nicknamed Waibiza for our quick cousinly vacay, we drove ten minutes to our bach. Now I must stop right here. When I say bach, I do not mean like the one my grandparents had at Te Awanga on quite possibly the roughest beach in Hawkes Bay. When I was a kid the sand was long and wide. Today the bach is hanging there by the skin of its piles having been smashed by waves several times over the ensuing decades. There is no longer any sand and it’s only a matter of time before the current owners (who bought it for $1000) will abandon it.
No indeed. We had booked Waiheke White House, which sounds either like an official residence or one that has poles in the lounge. Neither are correct.
This place is plush and huge. It’s a two-story home with decks all around to capture the sun any time of day. It has two living rooms, two bathrooms, a dining area off the new kitchen and sleeps eight. Three double bedrooms open out onto the aforementioned decks where various members of our party were gathered for functions like newspaper reading or coffee drinking.
Upstairs the living room has a daybed that is actually a king-single bed in disguise with a trundler bed underneath for making into a king for an eighth person.
Two bottles of wine from a local vineyard were waiting for us, plus a pot of Waiheke honey and a little bag of coffee. I was in my happy place.
Turn right out of the gate and in two minutes you’re wandering down the path to Little Oneroa Beach. This tiny bay has a children’s playground, a dairy and the owner makes a fine flat white. Next to them is a fish and chip shop – which does a mean wonton! Then on the beach front each night a mobile pizza oven pulls up to make delicious kebabs and pizzas to eat right there or take back home.
Within ten minutes walk is the main township of Oneroa that bulges with cafes, restaurants and shops along the main street. Plenty of brunch options abound.
Which wineries to visit on Waiheke?
We visited five wineries over the weekend and these three I would recommend taking some time to stop in at for a while:
Man O War
Located at the far end of the island and reached by about 30 minutes on a dirt road – or you could just bring your boat – this is a hike to get to, but worth it. I had heard great things about their platters, so we ordered about five for the table, some cheese and some with meat. Both outstanding.
I love Man O War’s sauvignon blanc, so happily quaffed that while shooting the breeze, although not literally as we were sitting in a marquee with roll down blinds to protect us from that effect. Tables were dotted on the lawn with fellow imbibers under umbrellas and kids played cricket at one side of the lawn as the low tide sat about twenty metres away. Perfect.
Cable Bay Vineyards
Even since last summer a lot has changed at this winery that is the closest to Oneroa – in fact about two kilometres away, so an easy stroll from the shops.
They still have their fine dining restaurant, but there’s a new tasting room which has allowed for the former tasting room to become a more casual dining option. Then out from that they have built the Verandah – a sunken outdoor dining area under huge white canopies. Bean bags are dotted on the lawn that stretches into the view of Auckland city and a new pizza oven accompanied by groovy lounge music means it’s easy to while away an afternoon here.
Set above a formal garden that will have any green fingers in your party twirling in circles, this has a lovely Italian feel. A styly dining room with white cloths is sought after for the multitude of nuptials held here, but walk along the gravel path to the tasting room and choose a flight from $10.
We decided not to queue up behind the tasting tour bus that had pulled in ahead of us, so pulled up enough outdoor chairs and ordered by the glass to enjoy drinking in the view with our splash.
How to get around on Waiheke
If you don’t take your car (at $160 without passengers) there are a few options on Waiheke for getting around:
Rent scooters or a car, book a wine tasting tour bus to hop you around several wineries without the need for one of your party to remain sober, or taxi.
I was grateful to be a guest of Waiheke White House. Click for more info, prices and availability.