Although New Zealand is an island, its larger centres don’t offer that “island time” experience. Our remedy? Spend the weekend just off the coast of Auckland on Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf.
This past weekend, Mr. Boomerlifetoday and I headed there – a return visit for him, a first for me. As soon as we left the ferry, I knew we were in for a great time because the first sign said “Slow down, you’re here” and how right they were. Waiheke is magical – you can do a lot or a little and never feel rushed.
Since it was my first visit, I wanted to see as much of the island as possible, so our first stop was the Saturday market in Ostend. It’s wasn’t what I expected – less farm produce and more flea market. However, among the stalls selling secondhand goods were some selling splendid artisan products (the best French pastries I’ve tasted since my arrival in New Zealand), beautiful chunky costume jewellery, aromatic essential oils, and much more.
Next on our itinerary, a drive through stunning countryside to visit the WWII gun emplacements. New Zealand feared being invaded by the Japanese in WWII, so they had these built as well as tunnels for equipment and munitions. History not your thing? Go anyway – the views are amazing!
Time for lunch and where better than one of Waiheke Island’s many wineries. We chose Poderi Crisci, famous for it’s pinot grigio, olive oil and lemon digestif. Lunch in their restaurant was a relaxed al fresco affair and the food was absolutely delicious.
Restaurant terrace- Poderi Crisci
Alas, it was time to return to Oneroa (the main centre) and check into our accommodation. We stayed in one of Waiheke’s dog friendly places, so our wheaton terrier could come too. After check in, we headed to a nearby beach for an evening stroll (dog friendly after 6:00 pm).
Track through native bush
Day 2 we explored more of the countryside by car and then headed out on one of Waiheke’s many walking tracks. We chose the track which follows the coast between Rocky Bay and Te Whau – absolutely stunning! The track wound its way through native bush and fields, down to secluded beaches and up along the cliff tops. It didn’t require a high level of fitness and took just 2 hours round trip. Even dogs were allowed, which isn’t the case with some of the other tracks on the island. To end the day we explored the Church Bay area of the island with its magnificent estates and wineries. Our day ended at Dragon Fired Artisan Wood Fired Food – delicious!
Church Bay area with one of the beautiful homes there in the distance
Day 3 and the weather began to deteriorate, but in the morning we took ourselves on an artisan food tour to Waiheke Fruit & Veg for Putiki Cheese from the Waiheke Island Cheese Company, Waiheke Island Herb Spread, and some oil from award winning Rangihoua Estate. From there we, headed to Ringawera bakery for their famous ciabatta and lavash. When we arrived, a photographer from Cuisine magazine was doing a photo shoot for their next issue – Ringawera’s herb lavash has been nominated for an award. We stayed for coffee and a chat before heading back into Oneroa. Once back in town, we stopped at Humble Pie Butchery for their sausages and pork pies (sadly the latter were sold out).
Since Waiheke is a haven for artists and craftsmen, it seemed only fitting to spend the afternoon visiting some of Waiheke’s galleries and artists’ studios. There are so many talented people on the island, but my favourite artist has to be Zoe Leeb-du Toit. She has a very unique style, best described as quilting with paints. I urge you to visit her Barrel Room Gallery at 52A Korora Rd, Oneroa. You won’t regret it!
Zoe with one of her paintings
Having spent a very enjoyable long weekend it was time to make our way to the ferry for our return trip to the mainland. But, we hope to return some day – I’ve definitely been bitten with Waiheke fever!
Until next time,
Your Boomer Life Partners
Disclosure: Mention of places, products or people in this Boomer Life Today blog post were not solicited or paid for by companies/persons in New Zealand or abroad.