Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Local's Secrets (17) : Tara's Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is a cultural oasis of happy people living life under the sun, drinking world-class wine, and eating the best food.  Escape from Auckland to float in warm, turquoise water or soak up some vitamin D with a glass of Syrah in your hand.

Waiheke Island

The Basics

What do people have to know about your city’s transportation? 
To ride the buses around Waiheke Island conveniently and at a cheaper rate, invest in an AT HOP card if you’re staying for an extended period of time.  Most locals have cars, scooters, or bicycles.

Tell us about the food scene! 

Signature dish and where to get the best servings: 
- Oysters from Te Matuku Bay are to DIE for.  They can be found at various restaurants on the island, but my favorite is Te Whau. If you’re in the shucking mood, purchase your own at Te Matuku’s shop and have a wine and oyster night at home.

- Waiheke Island is known as the island of wine and what goes better with wine than a delectable cheeseboard? I literally lost count of how many different cheeseboards that I have tasted while living here, but two of my absolute favorites can be ordered at Cable Bay Vineyard and Goldie Estate.

Fenice, Best Cake in Waiheke Island
Fenice has the best cakes on the Island.
- On the island one can find the crème-de-la-crème of coffee.  In the morning, head to Fenice with a good book and enjoy the best flat white in town made by my favorite barista, Fabio.
- My personal favorite fish and chip shop is the chipper down at Little Oneroa Beach.

Everyday food that foreigners might find exotic? 
Feijoas! Tart skin, sweet and soft insides, incredibly delicious.

Hidden Gems/ Tara's Secrets! 

Sell us the one or two "things you should experience before you die” in your city. 

Man O'War, Antipasta platter
Man O'War devine Antipasta platter
- My number one recommendation to anyone visiting Waiheke Island is to obtain a vehicle and make the drive out to Man O’ War Bay and Vineyard.  The drive alone is completely worth the 45 minutes, but Man O’ War is one of the best vineyards on the island.  Did I mention it’s right on the beach?

- Skip Oneroa Beach, which is packed in the summer time due to its proximity to the village’s main street, and walk ten minutes down the road to Little Oneroa.  If you have a car or hop on a bus, head even further to Palm Beach, which many deem the best beach on the island, or Little Palm for the nude beach.

Hidden gems in the city that tourists tend to overlook:
- The Waiheke Island Hopper is no secret to locals and tourists on the island.  It’s a hop-on/hop-off bus that stops at a handful of the island’s major vineyards. However, despite stopping right near the entrance, the Vineyard Hopper guides fail to mention the amazing vineyard of Te Motu!  Small and charming, Te Motu is a can’t-miss vineyard for red wine lovers.  Head to the outdoor tasting room during the day or to The Shed on Friday nights for a set, surprise three-course meal. You won’t be disappointed.

Mud brick Vineyard, Waiheke Island
Mudbrick Vineyard
- If you are in the mood for the best meal you’ve ever had in your life, reserve a table in the dining room at Mudbrick Vineyard.  It’s pricey, but the degustation menu is a full-blown amazing multi-course meal, with matched wine pairings for each course, of nothing but the best food combinations to touch your taste buds.  Sit by the floor-to-ceiling windows for an unbeatable sunset view of Auckland and Rangitoto Volcano.

- Head to Ostend on Saturday mornings for the Ostend Market.  Treat yourself with wholesome foods and creative goodies from different businesses around the island.  There’s usually live music too.

Let’s talk about the best festival in the city, and how to participate! 

In April, the Waiheke Wine and Food Festival is a can’t-miss event.  Wine connoisseurs and food artisans shower one another (as well as festival goers) with amazing food and drinking goodness. Enjoy live music, top-class wine, delectable food and a great atmosphere.

Tell us your favorite photo spots in your city and how to get there 
The Te Ara Hura is a network of walking trails covering Waiheke Island.  A personal favorite is the track from Oneroa Beach to Matiatia.  Some of the best photo opportunities on the island, private mini bays in Owhanake Bay, and the best spots to eat a packed lunch with a view.

Tell us about the best day trip destination from your city and why is that your choice? 
The island itself is full of fabulous day trips.  On Waiheke Island, if coming from the main village of Oneroa, a great day trip is a beautiful drive out to Man O’War and Stony Batter where the gun emplacements are located.

You can take the ferry across the water to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, where you will find lovely people, endless outdoor activities, and some of the most stunning beaches (ie. Cathedral Cove).

Rangitoto Volcano is situated on a nearby island that the ferry passes en route from Auckland to Waiheke Island.  You can take an easy hike to the top for panoramic views of the ocean, Auckland, and nearby islands.

(BONUS Tips) 

One of the best ways to experience the real magic that exists on Waiheke Island is to meet the locals and backpackers living there.  Everyone is incredibly friendly and kind-hearted.  Spontaneous conversations with strangers are the absolute best way to get to know special parts of the island and learn the secret spots to check out.


My name is Tara.  I am a 22-year-old American obsessed with finding delicious pizza.  In January 2016, I moved to Oneroa, New Zealand, which is on Waiheke Island off the coast of Auckland.  My blog, Read To Travel, is my creative space with which I aim to inspire through telling stories, sharing travel tips, and, my favorite, reading books in beautiful places all over the world.  Follow my adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin’, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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