Waiheke Island: What to eat, what to drink and where to stay

This week, I’m dreaming of island-hopping. Although we’re confined to New Zealand for now, Waiheke is no compromise, and at another point in time, you’d find it humming with as many international accents as local ones. But right now this island paradise, full of world-class wine, food and views, is all ours for the taking.

Where to eat

is a new plant-focused cafe Oneroa Village. Akitō is a Māori verb which means to do something slowly – the concept is applied to their food practices, preparation and cooking methods. Harissa beans, dukkah-roasted cauliflower and kimchi fried rice? Yes, please.

Legendary Oyster Inn was recently bought by everyone’s favourite Instastory Josh Emmett. The food has always been fresh and exciting, the wine list is top-notch, and the bar often hosts live music – it’s particularly fun on a Sunday for the afternoon jazz session. They have a couple of lovely rooms to stay in out the back as well.

Casito Miro is famous for its tapas. There are olive trees, European mosaics, and picture-perfect rows of vines to wander among with a wine glass in hand. The menu features whatever is fresh and local, much out of the grounds the restaurant overlooks.

And if you just need a dozen oysters to slurp with a bottle of wine, Te Matuku oyster farm is the stop. Whether you buy them in the shell or shucked, and you’ll be enjoying them on the day they were harvested.

Where to drink

There are really too many wonderful places on Waiheke to choose from, but if we must . . . Hiding beneath Tantalus Estate is the Alibi Brewers Lounge . The brewery incorporates flavours, flora and fauna from the estate grounds – ageing wine barrels, crunchy grapes and freshly harvested honey – plus excellent bar snacks such as truffle fries and fried chicken with buttermilk waffles.

Gin lovers should try the Gin & Tonic experience with the Botanical Distillery . They’ll collect you from the ferry and whisk you away to an afternoon of learning about botanicals, tasting and experimentation, teaching you to make your own customised gin (a bottle of which you’ll take home with you). If you’ve hired a bach, they’ll come to you.

Man O’ War’s view from the island’s only beachfront cellar door is so good. Enjoy the grounds while trying your hand at some lawn cricket, petanque, or swing ball, or grab a blanket and wrap up to watch the boats go by, glass of syrah in hand, of course. ·

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