I hate holiday time. Not because I hate holidays, but because the place fills up with tourists, I can’t get a coffee without queuing up, I can’t get a carpark in the main street, the beaches are littered with hot, sweaty, sunburned people and everyone who comes to visit us stays for the whole weekend instead of just for a glass of wine.
Why? Because we live on Waiheke Island.
However, I’m encouraging tourists to visit Waiheke in the hope that it’ll spread the load, keep the local business people busier and give visitors a taste of the island that we enjoy when there’s nobody else around.
If you’re staying the weekend you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation, and you’ll find the winter rates much more appealing than summer.
Waiheke’s beaches are legend, and while you possibly won’t want to dip your bodies in the surf when it’s only 15 degrees outside, you will want to walk with the sun on your back, pick up shells and bits of driftwood, and daydream about owning your own beachfront bach one day. Get adventurous and explore some of beaches. We have our favourites, which are usually stony and unpopulated. Close to Oneroa Village are Owhanake and Blackpool, where you can wander along the rock pools for ages at low tide, and Man O’ War Bay, a 20 minute drive away.
Waiheke probably has as many cafes as it has beaches, and lots of them are good. But our favourite is a great, barn-like place called Blend. Despite its funky, retro décor, it feels like a bit like a converted warehouse, which it may well be. But it’s thoroughly warmed up by good heating, fine coffee, extraordinary caramel and feijoa cake, great big concrete-topped tables where you can spread out the paper, and nice people to serve you.
We tend to take friends to Cable Bay because despite its upmarket architecture and classy reputation, it’s actually very user friendly even if you’re just wandering about in there with no intention of buying anything. There’s an art gallery which is very cool, and some stunning sculptures outside. We occasionally have a bottle of wine in the bar which is an especially nice, warm space in the winter.
Kennedy Point Vineyard is a great place. We like the winery decks tucked in under the trees where you can relax and try wine, honey and olive oil. If you visit after October there’s a fabulous lunch menu that’s innovative and not expensive.
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