In the fall of 2017, while having breakfast one Saturday morning, my husband and I were talking about our next vacation. He commented he would really like to go somewhere he’s never been, to a continent he’s never been. He grew up in Italy, has lived in four countries, and traveled for business and pleasure throughout the world over the years, so my question to him was… “So where would you like to go?”
His response…New Zealand. I am a traveler to my core. I did not have the good fortune to travel much in my twenties and thirties, but when I met my husband in my forties, I found my travel soul mate. He often comes up with ideas, for example, Aruba. I take the suggestion and before he knows it, I have researched the area and put together options for a trip. What can I say…that is how we ended up in New Zealand in March 2018.
But how did we end up in Waiheke Island? It wasn’t from reading about the island in Fodor’s or online at Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor. Nope, it was a conversation my husband had with a colleague who had been to New Zealand and recommended Waiheke Island. First, we had to figure out how to pronounce the island’s name correctly. It’s waɪˈhɛkiː. Then for me the fun began. Researching the island, learning about the wineries and olive oil tasting tours. The beaches, we love beaches. The food, local farm to table fare is everywhere.
But where to stay? My husband isn’t a big fan of staying in someone else’s home aka AirBnB. Neither of us really like big chain hotels and there aren’t any on the island anyway. What we do like is local, boutique hotels or inns that offer a more authentic experience reflective of the locale.
Much to our delight, we found the Oyster Inn. This Inn is truly a warm and welcoming base for exploring the Island. With a seafood restaurant that serves delicious lunch and dinner, a lovely boutique shop, and three, yes that’s right just three luxury hotel rooms. Each of the spacious three rooms have lofty wood beamed ceilings with white-washed walls furnished in a classic-contemporary style.
As a guest of the hotel, breakfast is also included. Delicious options from fresh yogurt and homemade granola to eggs prepared to your liking. And then there is the Flat White. I had never heard of a flat white, and the first day when the waiter strolled over to our table and asked if we would like to start with a flat white...my response was... "A flat white?" The waiter replied “It’s espresso with milk.” Much to my delight it is not just an espresso with milk or for that matter a latte, cappuccino or café latte. It is an espresso with steamed milk and a small layer microfoam consisting of fine milky bubbles with a velvety consistency. Delicious! Since our visit in 2018, you now see it offered in some coffee shops in the U.S. but in 2018, I had never heard of it. What a treat.
Waikehe Island is a vacation, day trip, second home location for New Zealanders. The island is also home to a wonderful collection of vineyards with their own selections of grapes and wines, olive producers, and manuka honey makers. As tempting as it was to travel around the island wine tasting and olive oil sampling via a moped, my husband and I decided that in our sixties driving a moped on the left side of the country roads throughout the island might not be the best choice. Instead we opted for the Hop On-Hop Off buses that circle the island. What a great experience, you grab your map of the island, decide where you want to stop and then hop off, enjoy as much time as you like. Hop on the next bus, hop off, you get the picture. The scenery is lovely, you enjoy at your own pace, and you are not bothered by trying to figure out where you are at or have the fear of breaking a limb while on vacation.
The people are friendly, informative and sharing of their country and their island. There is a serenity on Waiheke that you don’t find often in today’s bustling paced world. You come to respect their careful use of the land, their respect for the environment, their love of their craft.
After three days on the island, when it was time for us to go to the port and take the ferry transit back to Auckland, we both wished we had more time. More time to walk on the beaches, dip in the ocean, sip one more glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and linger over one more flat white on the patio at the Oyster Inn overlooking Ocean View Road, Oneroa, Waiheke Island.