90 MINUTES TO SPARE ON . . . WAIHEKE ISLAND
Chef and Oyster Inn owner Josh Emett shares his insider tips for Waiheke Island
Waiheke is a food and wine lover’s paradise, with world-class vineyards and great restaurants that are open year round. There are idyllic, beautiful beaches, more than 100km of trail walks, heaps of activities like zip-lining, kayaking and fishing.
Park Point Walk is a mixture of deserted beaches, NZ native bush, rocky coastlines and also a chance to eye some of Waiheke’s most luxurious homes. Although better reserved for a rainy day, the Waiheke Cinema is an unconventional and eccentric cinema where seating is locally donated couches and sofas.
If you have time for kayaking, the rock pools around Little Oneroa to Sandy Bay and Enclosure Bay are great for family kayaking and snorkelling and this side of the island is often protected from the wind. I also love visiting
Man O War Vineyards — the drive there and back lets you see a good amount of the island in one go and they offer a shuttle if you don’t have a car.
Don’t miss the Saturday market in Ostend — it's the best cross-section of Waiheke life, food purveyors and interesting local stalls. And try wine tasting at Goldie Estate. It's owned by Auckland Uni, so when you visit there for a tasting you’re supporting the hands of viticulture learning — plus the chardonnay is one of my favourites.
A place I’m loving is the newly opened plantfocused cafe Akito right opposite The Oyster Inn, I love their turmeric latte.
Holly at the Island Grocer makes a great coffee and I often grab one of their delicious juices as well, plus they have so much great produce. A toasted sandwich from the Palm Beach Store — I particularly love the cheese and three types of onion (red, white and spring). They also make their own jars of sambal and if you ask nicely they’ll let you add it to your toastie.
For amazing views, head to the lookout above little Palm Beach. Also at Batch Winery, there are great 360-degree views of the island. Mudbrick and Cable Bay have beautiful sunset views. The top of Trig Hill Rd near Onetangi is the highest lookout on the western side of the island, also with wraparound views. I love the views from The Oyster Inn across Oneroa Bay where sometimes you will see dolphins playing.
Waiheke has a diverse and colourful population, as well as laid back, relaxed energy. Even with the growth of hospitality here, there’s a relaxed vibe at all the venues.
Above: Josh Emett at Oyster Inn. Photo / Supplied Photo below / Miles Holden