In the week between Christmas and New Year’s my husband and I escaped to Waiheke Island (just 35 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland) for a mini break at a friend’s bach. Two nights and three days of sunshine, swimming, walks and G&T’s on the deck.
After the businesses of finishing up work for the year, flying out of town to spend Christmas with my in-laws and then back home again to celebrate with my family – not to mention a hectic year that involved getting engaged, planning a wedding in a few months and then a month-long honeymoon – so a few days away from home was just what we needed.
As well as relaxing at our bach, we also ventured to a few beautiful spots around the Island, which I would highly recommend checking out when you next visit Waiheke Island.
Stay: As previously mentioned, we were lucky enough to stay at a friend’s bach which is right on the beach. However, there are plenty of stunning rental spots around Waiheke which you can find on booking.com
Beach: We made the most of Onetangi Beach, which was just a few meters from our bach. With emerald water and safe swimming for kids, its a great spot to bring the family. Pack your beach bag with towels, fresh fruit and plenty of water and then find a shady spot for the day under the powhutukawa trees which line the white sand beach.
Wine tasting: Waiheke Island is famous for its vineyards, producing premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Chardonnay.
Head to Man O’War Vineyard for a free wine tasting at the Kauri wooden bar in their tasting room. Then relax outside on the deck in a wicker armchair with a glass of your favourite wine – I highly recommend either the Man O’War Valhalla Chardonnay 2016 or the Man O’War Warspite Bordeaux 2013. If you visit during summer, pack your swimsuit and enjoy a swim at the local beach, which is just a stones throw from the tasting room. Then settle at one of the picnic tables under the trees and enjoy a cheese platter and more wine.
Closer to Onetangi is Tantalus Estate Vineyard, which is home to wine tasting, a beautiful designed restaurant by Cheshire Architects and Alibi Brewery. Craft beer lovers will enjoy working their way through a flight of Alibi beers in the brick walled brewers lounge (which is situated underneath the main restaurant). Settle into one of the comfortable leather armchairs in front of the fireplace or if the weather is fine, pull up a chair outside overlooking the gardens and rolling hills of vines. Also of note is the beautiful blue and white tiled powder room, complete with brass hardware.
Eat: You’ll find several supermarkets around the Island where you can stock up on food to cook at your accommodation, or alternatively if you don’t fancy cooking there are plenty of great cafes and restaurants to visit.
We made the most of the summer fruit and ate bowls of berries, natural yoghurt and muesli for breakfast. For lunch and dinner we fired up the BBQ on our bach’s deck (you’ll also find BBQ’s at the local beaches) and grilled courgettes, capsicum, fresh fish and steak.
Drink: Hendricks Gin and Tonics in the sun, post afternoon beach swim, and chilled Chardonnay from Man O’War and Tantalus Estate in the evenings.
Read: Learn more about the Island’s eccentric character, unique charm and stunning seaside vistas through the pages of Waiheke and Island and it’s People by John Hawkesby.
Wear: Togs, togs, togs! A one piece swimsuit with a loose linen blue and white stripe shirt, some shorts and jandals and you’re set for the day. At the beach, stay sun smart with a wide brim straw hat and coverup. When you head off to explore the vineyards, stay cool from the summer heat in breezy linen dresses, silk skirts and loose singlet tops. Remember to bring a warm woollen jumper for sunset beach walks, as it can still get cool in the summer evenings.
Beauty: Beach holidays are the perfect chance to let your skin breath and give it a break from your day to day make-up routine. Sun protection is a must however and my current favourites are Mecca Cosmetica’s To Save Face and Body sunscreen range. Then just a swipe of bronzer, mascara and a dab of lip balm and you’re good to go.