Waiheke – Lesser known treasures & places to visit

At the risk of giving away too many local secrets we thought we’d share with you some of our favourite, less visited spots around the island. Great places to relax when the island feels like it might sink from the weight of visitors!

Enclosure and Sandy Bays

These northern bays are a great secret destination for those in the know. Enclosure Bay’s natural lagoon is a magical place in all tides. At low tide you can explore the rock pools and walk around to the secret bay to the east. At high tide the swimming is safe, the snorkeling is excellent and the water even warms up by the turn of the tide.  Just along the road is Sandy Bay, also a great swimming beach, and fine for swimming at all tides. This is an excellent place to launch kayaks and boats, and the fishing from the rocks can yield success. Use the free public gas BBQ to cook up your catch! There is also a public toilet at Sandy Bay. Being mere minutes from Oneroa these are very accessible!

Up Empire Ave from Enclosure Bay you will find the pou (Maori carved poles) signifiying the entrance to MacKenzie Reserve. This regenerating bush hillside is a wonderful example of how a community can come together and make something awesome. Once a forest of pine, the reserve has been planted in native trees by a dedicated army of locals.  The results are growing into something quite spectacular. Fun for the kids too – look out for the bug hotels!  There are no shops in this area, so come prepared.

We have a couple of fabulous family holiday homes on Empire Ave, Empire Escape and Empire Views, from which you have a prime seat to enjoy all this magic part of the island has to offer.  The gorgeous Hibiscus Cottage is also nearby.

Kennedy Point and Picnic Bay

Another area visitors tend to drive through without knowing the secret spots is the Kennedy Point area. When the wind is coming in from the north Picnic Bay and Takirau Bay offer lovely shelter, great high tide swimming and very few people. You can access Takirau Bay from the unnamed cul de sac off to the right of Kennedy Point Rd. Picnic Bay is accessed off Esslin Rd and has a permanent pontoon to swim out to. In summer holidays it is worth checking if the Te Huruhi School pool is open to the public (there will be a sandwich board on the roadside), as it is solar heated and a good option for little ones to cool off and practice their swimming. Note that both bays are Little Blue Pengiun nesting areas so not suitable for dogs. Again, we have a number of houses well placed to make the most of the area. 180 Kennedy Point is closest to Takirau Bay, while Picnic Bay and Tui Point are within walking distance of each other and great for extended family groups. In the same area, but with their own beach are the Putaki Bay Villas.

The “Bottom End”

You may have “driven the loop”, but chances are you missed some secrets on the way. Just after Passage Rock if you are heading to Orapiu is the pioneer cemetry, a must visit spot for those interested in colonial history. A wonderfully peaceful tiny graveyard nestled among mature trees this cemetery was reached by water, with coffins carried through the bush to their resting place. It is a who’s who of Waiheke pakeha pioneer families.

If you do head to Orapiu be sure to take your fishing rod or handline as the fishing from Orapiu wharf is excellent, particularly as it is just outside the marine reserve and breeding grounds. Also in the neighbourhood we recommend driving around to Otakawhe Bay, parking and taking the track around the coast to Pearl Bay.  It is an easy walk of about 10 minutes and leads you to a deep horse shoe bay with a handful of houses and excellent high tide swimming. Pearl Bay is within Awaawaroa and the marine reserve so fishing and shell gathering is not allowed.

Very few homes are available to rent at this end of the island but we are lucky enough to have the magestic Waikopou for a few weeks over summer. It is not far from Man O’War Bay and the vineyard tasting room/café, but once you arrive you might not want to go anywhere!

Shopping on Waiheke..an insiders guide

One of our team recently over heard someone saying “well, its not the shopping you come to Waiheke for” and we thought, “How wrong!”. So, we’ve pulled together this locals guide to the best of island retail to help eradicate the myth. There are two main shopping centres on Waiheke, Oneroa and Ostend both offering a range of retail treats.


Oneroa, perhaps the better know shopping district, has food, wine, clothing, gift and homeware gems squeezed between the real estate and eateries.

Gifts and homewares

Our favourite spot is Timmy Smith’s where you can have a tea tasting (hot, cold or sparkling) while you peruse her collection of jewellery, leatherware, tea accoutrements and stationery. On the high side of the village above the roundabout pop into Jones with its collection of handcrafted, and interesting new and retro bits and bobs including a great collection of sunhats, clothing items, and jewellery. Futher down the village on the same side Island Design has a range of kiwiana chic including island made products. Keep heading down the road to Veranda where you will find a very stylish collection of Waiheke, New Zealand and imported household goods and gifts.  For a uniquely Waiheke shopping experience visit Upcycle which is nestled in Pendragon Mall, behind the Oneroa Beach Club. Everything in this retail collective (you’ll likely be served by one of the product makers) is made on Waiheke and most items use recycled or re-purposed elements in true Waiheke style.


Over the years Waiheke has provided refuge for those escaping the mainstream. Many residents have found their new path through their connection with the island’s natural envirnment and their creativity.  Consequently the island has a proud tradition of artistic endeavour – not all of them just for therapy! Oneroa Village boasts three excellent galleries we encourage you to visit. Upstairs in the Artworks complex is the home of Waiheke Community Gallery. This gallery curates and hosts exhibitions of local and national artists in it’s three gallery spaces throughout the year. They also have an excellent gift shop with ceramics, jewellery, books, and more. In the middle of the village on the high side is the small entrance to the Tardis-like [ s p a c e ] gallery. This is another Waiheke collective and is manned by a roster of the artists whose work is available for sale. You will find scuptures big and small as well as paintings and mixed media works across three gallery spaces. Across the road is Toi Gallery the home of Sally Smith and Chris Bailey’s work. Both of these local artists have strong connections with the island’s Piritahi Marae and both are highly successful artists with works sent globally.


Until fairly recently clothing choices on the island were largely restricted to hunting thorugh the island’s three second hand stores: The Red Cross in Oneroa, WISCA (formerly SPCA) on Pacific Parade or New Hope at the tip in Ostend. While these can still come up trumps if they suit your style, as an island we’ve grown up a bit now and designer wear is no longer a ferry ride away. In Oneroa we recommend visiting We-Ar for fabulously sylish sustainable and organic yoga and street wear for men and women. Futher down the village you can satisfy your tourist urge for locally inspired t-shirts at Shop the Rock, across the road local artist Sally Smith has screen printed t-shirts in some of her key designs at Toi Gallery, and back on the high side Waiheke Central Supply Co. stocks t-shirts and a cleverly curated collection of street and designer wear for men and women. Continuing down the road, pop in to Glowing Sky for South Island made (originally made on Stewart Island) merino wear for men, women and children. Under the Oyster Inn you will find their store which has a its own range of “beach chic” clothing as well as designer eyewear and accessories including Karen Walker and Deadly Ponies. Shoes, accessories and other treats can be found at Body and Soles just down from the top roundabout, on the sea side.


The island’s Village Butchery is at the top of the village opposite the library. As well as expertly butchered fresh meats and delicious homemade sausages they have a treasure trove in their frezeers, and a growing selection of pre-made meals. Their sausage rolls, hot pies and traditional english pork pies are also hard to pass on. On Fridays they sometimes have (weather and whim dependent) fresh Hauraki Gulf fish, caught and processed by a local fishing boat.  The Island Grocer on the roundabout stocks everything you need for a treat filled holiday pantry and fridge. They are licensed and have an excellent selection of organic fruit and vegetables, a mouth watering delicatessen and cheese counter and a comprehensive selection of island made artesan food products.


No longer a “blink and you’ll miss it” village, Ostend is thriving and growing. Belgium Street, now home to the island’s supermarket is the main shopping street, but it is well worth heading to the light industrial area in Tahi Rd. Here’s your locals’ guide to Ostend.

Gifts and homewares

True Blue has something for everyone from babies to difficult to buy for blokes and everyone inbetween. It is also has hands down the best selection of gift cards on the island. Across the road, beneath our new office, our neighbours downstairs are well worth a visit. Eclectic Boutique have moved in from their spot in Surfdale and with the new larger shop have expanded their range of gorgous gifts, homewares and Heidi Altmann orginial upcycled furniture. They also have fabulously stylish clothing (see below). Next door is locals’ favourite Likerish which really does stock all-sorts: from bedding and rugs to crystals and dog beds. Tucked in behind you will find the Ostend Gallery, the art studio of Daisy Land and Ingrid Berzins who work and sell their paintings and screen printing on site. Just around the corner on Whakarite Rd is Colony, a vintage and antique store focusing on kiwiana and well worth a rummage if you are a treasure hunter. Across the road in Ostend Rd visit the Flower Gallery for gorgeous bouquets as well as a fantastic collection of gifts, potted orchards and terrariums. For toys, gifts and things to entertain the children head to Waiheke Art and Crafts which is across the way from Placemakers, down Ostend Rd. This is also the place to stock up on wool and art supplies, plus they sell NZ Skellerup redband gumboots for the whole family. Continue on from there to Tahi Rd and you will find Factory Ceramics. This working studio has a shop displaying their fabulous ceramic homewares. While their popular products are sold elsewhere on the island only the factory shop has seconds bins where you can pick up bargins which may have special wonky bits to set them apart.


Arriving on the island from a fashion career in Ireland Chrisy Macleod is the co-owner and buyer of Eclectic Boutique’s clothing and footwear. She has pulled together a masterful collection of designer clothing and footwear. Stunning items that will take you from the beach to fine dining and everything in between. Across the road at Out There you can pick up a surfboard, a pair of sunnies, a new swimsuit and a pair of jandals. They also have a great selection of streetwear for men, women and children including New Zealand labels Huffer and Federation.


Specialty food shops seem to be popping up throughout Ostend. RAW is open on Putaki Rd and offers an extensive selection fresh fruit and vege including organics, meats, Franco’s breads, and specialty grocery items. They are licensed for beer and wine and have a great selection of market flowers, so are truly a one-stop-shop. Te Matuku Oysters have a fantastic shop in front of the supermarket on Belgium Street. Head in for fresh island farmed oysters,  sustainably caught fish, Coromandel Smoked Fish products and a range of local and international specialty items. They have yummy lunch and premade dinner options too – their oyster pies and seafood chowder are hard to pass by!

Gulf Foods have opened a new cash and carry shop on Tahi Rd. Their refillery means you can shop without plastic packaging guilt. They also have a huge range of frozen goods and other bulk and specialty grocery items. The local milkman has also opened a fantastic shop, Sophia’s Gourmet Foods, on the corner of Poto and Erua Rds. This is where you will find divine cheeses, meats and specialty grocer items for great prices. Look out for their short date specials.

Spring activities on Waiheke!

Even though the arrival of spring is still a few weeks away, the daffodills are out, lambs are gambolling around the bottom end and the weather is feeling warm and settled. Chances are there will be a kick in the tail of winter, but there is lots happening to cheer the spirits regardless of the weather in the coming spring months.
The Jassy Dean Trust are building up to their big annual fundraising drives so they can continue to support island families with sick children. From buying in firewood and arranging transport to medical appointments, to funding therapy and equipment the trust has over nearly 20 years contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to make things more manageable for families that are under the strain of illness and disability. This year there are two fun events planned. On Saturday, 15 September Tantalus Estate is hosting a four course meal, silent auction and fireside chat with NZ performers and directors Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Michael Hurst. Tickets are available here.
Then, the well known Garden Festival (formerly Garden Safari) returns over the weekend of 10 – 11 November. This year there are 9 gardens open for ticket holders as well as a plant sale and yet to be announced garden related workshops, talks and events. This is a fantastic opportunity to be inspired or just to experience a variety of otherwise publically inaccessible Waiheke properties often with spectacular views, sometimes with artists at work in the garden. Tickets start at $30 for the two days and are available at Fullers and Paper Plus Waiheke from 1 September. Fullers will also be offering Festival, ferry and bus packages.
For classical music lovers spring has a number of opportunities to hear musicians at the top of their craft; on island. As a pre-spring warm up Artworks Theatre hosts the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra: Winter Romance on Saturday 18 August. Featuring the APO’s principal oboist Bede Hanley their playlist includes Bach, Vivaldi and Piazolla.
On Saturday 1 September the New Zealand String Quartet are playing at Cable Bay. A three course meal has been designed to accompany the works of three greats: Mozart, Beethoven and Debussy. You can find more information and tickets at Cable Bay.
Whittaker’s Musical Museum continue to host regular concerts from visiting NZ and international classical performers. For a full list of the amazing line up visit the museum’s website. By example, check out Vladimir Gorbach who is playing on Saturday 27 October.
For those who prefer a bit of kiwi rock, you may have missed the Feelers at Artworks in August but you can still get tickets to The Chills who are also playing at Artworks, on Sunday 7 November.
If making the most of Waiheke’s stunning outdoor environment is your idea of spring celebration the nine day long Waiheke Walking Festival kicks off on 17 November. Offering 50 guided walks and events over 9 days the festival has something for all interests, ages and abilities. It is worth registering at their website to stay up to date as the events take shape and for notifications about
the monthly walk series. This month is a full moon walk in Onetangi on Saturday 25 August culminating in telescope moon viewing led by Dark Sky Waiheke.
On top of all of this, spring on Waiheke offers the beauty of summer without the crowds: gentle markets; empty beaches; and a truly local vibe. Spend the weekend enjoying all the island has to offer – and take advantage of our THIRD NIGHT FREE deal through until the end of September – check out the options here!.

Waiheke for larger groups & corporates

Waiheke is an easy and relatively inexpensive destination for corporate off sites, group get togethers and reunions. In addition to the fabulous vineyard dining and tasting experiences on offer there are fun group activities for everyone.

Make the most of the Hauraki Gulf experience by getting out there on a fishing charter. Fishing Waiheke is licensed to take up to 14 people on their 40ft vessel Grace. Skipper Mikey and his Dad Terry who owns the boat know the Gulf like the back of their hands and you’ll come home from a half or full day charter with fish for dinner, and great memories of time on the Gulf. Advanced bookings are essential.

Well known chef Julie Buiso offers culinary and wine tours (for small groups) and cooking classes for between 2 and 10. She’ll even include your charter catch on the menu! Julie is happy to provide in-house cooking classes at your Be My Guest accommodation and will guide you to make the most of Waiheke and other New Zealand products.

The island is spoilt for fabulous foodies and a number of chefs with impressive international CVs are available to cater for you at your accommodation, or wherever you plan to be on the island. Chef Deb offers a heavenly range of menus to meet your needs from 8 course degustation to gourmet BBQs and beach picnic packs. The team of Jennifer Perry and Anthony McNamara are Luxe Waiheke and are well equipped to deliver whatever your culinary desire.  Check out their experience, give them a call to discuss your needs and then sit back, relax and enjoy.

Whether you want to sip your way around the island or if you are more about cultural experiences or physical challenges Waiheke has it all. For an excellent wine tour experience guided by locals contact Ananda Tours or Waiheke Island Wine Tours, both companies can cater for groups of all sizes and know the secret spots and provide great local information and historic tidbits between vineyard stops. For the more adventurous and those wanting to experience the island through a Maori perspective Potiki Adventures offer wine, food, mountain biking, kayak and marae experiences including discovering Maori musical instruments and weaving. Having grown up on the island, Potiki director Bianca Ranson returned from her OE in the early 2000s to offer visitors a unique perspective of life on Waiheke.

For a physical island team building experience there are opportunities for horse ridingsnorkelling and divingkayakingarchery and claybird shootingzipline, and yacht charters. Or, if you get the timing right, why not get training and come together for Waiheke Walking Festival events in November, the Waiheke Half Marathon in May or the more gruelling Waiheke Wharf to Wharf in March.

If your stay on the island is all about relaxation how about in house massage and yoga. Contact either Waiheke Massage or Island Massage to discuss massage, reiki, bach flower and yoga sessions.

For those groups wanting to channel their creative side a stone carving workshop might be just the thing. Or perhaps you are happier enjoying the works of others. We recommend taking a tour with Ananda to explore local galleries and visit artists in their studios. For an outdoor art experience how about arranging a tour of Waiheke’s world renowned sculpture park which is at Connell’s Bay at the eastern end of the island. Bookings are essential.

You might even squeeze some work into your stay…for audio visual or other conference equipment for your corporate offsite contact ISLE, or you could hire Waiheke Community Cinema for a unique setting for your strategic plan launch or just to watch a movie together.

Be My Guest has some great properties for large groups (up to 18 in a single property) – see here for a selection of larger houses. Talk to us now about your requirements!

Winter On Waiheke

Winter is a great time to visit Waiheke. The crowds have shrunk and locals begin
to pop their heads out from behind their hedges. While you may have to contest
with a fair amount of mud around the place, winter Waiheke has a lot to offer:
the beaches are magnificent both on clear crisp days or in stormy winds; the
stars twinkle extra brightly and there is nothing like a cosy place to stay with a
board game underway, or a book in hand with a fabulous view as the back drop.
If wining and dining is your thing, let’s face it, who cares if the weather isn’t great
when there is world class food and wine for consumption!
There is a great tradition of winter dining and theatre events on Waiheke. This
year is no exception; there are two fantastic fundraising nights coming up. After
their annual fundraiser The Onetangi Beach Races were rained off, Waiheke
Rotary are hosting a blacktie gala at a secret Oneroa venue. With MC Brooke
Howard-Smith and music by The Big Ticket, Friday 13 th July should be a night of
Swing dancing fun! Tickets are available through Eventfinda.
Then, in spring, the Jassy Dean Trust is holding a four-course meal, and fireside
chat at Tantalus Estate on 15 September. This fabulous charity supports families
with sick kids on the island. This event is a warm up for their major fundraiser,
the Jassy Dean Garden Festival, which is held annually on the second weekend of
With a new management team the island’s community run Artworks Theatre has
a great line up of local and “overseas” productions. The weekend of July 14 and
15 acclaimed Auckland Theatre Company touring play “Still Life with Chickens”
is on the island. Then, later in July and into August founder of Auckland Theatre
Company, Simon Prast directs a local production of the Pulitzer Award winning
play “The Diary of Anne Frank”.
When it really isn’t beach weather there is something for everyone at the
Artworks complex, at the top of Oneroa village. The beautiful new Waiheke
Library has free wifi and is a great place to play a game of chess or have a read. If
you are an Auckland resident you can use your library card to borrow books and
DVDs. The fabulous library staff and other locals run regular and holiday events
for children and adults, their website is kept up to date with events.
Artworks is also home to the Waiheke Community Cinema. Snuggle up on a sofa
to watch a recent release or an international festival film. Bookings are advised.
As the name suggests Artworks also houses the Community Art Gallery which
always has an interesting exhibition or two in the galleries. The shop has an
excellent collection of Waiheke and New Zealand ceramics, jewellery, paintings,
books and cards. Just next door to the gallery is the Whittikers Musical Museum.
Well worth a visit for music buffs, the museum hosts monthly concerts of NZ and
international acts. See their website for details.

The Waiheke Museum on the Onetangi straight has fabulous exhibitions
displaying island life from last century. They are open Wednesdays and
weekends 12 – 4. Entry is by koha (donation).

Activities to do with kids…

July School holidays are looming – and there is plenty to do in all weathers on Waiheke, it may pay to bring gumboots as Waiheke’s famous winter mud will not disappoint this year!

We do still have some great family friendly houses available for the holidays, and they are toasty & warm too – talk to us now!

But our insider tips this week are all about throwing a few ideas around about what to do with the kids…

The Waiheke Library is an important part of our community and this really shows when it comes to holiday programmes. The dedicated staff of librarians draw on their skills and those of others in the community, and pull together great events and workshops for kids. These holidays there is a Superhero theme with activities including an explosive morning of science to “explore the science behind the superpowers of superheroes like Batman, Storm & The Incredibles!” and a visit from some local heros including our voluntary firefighters, St Johns and NZ Police. See the library website for details.

Waiheke is a fantastic place to enjoy the stars! We are in Matariki at the moment and with the moon on the wane and the early darkness at this time of the year the school holidays will give perfect star gazing opportunities for kids. The library is hosting a Matariki celebration on Thursday 12th July 7 – 8.30pm with games, treasure hunt and star gazing in collaboration with local groups Waiheke Native Bird Rescue, Waiheke Waiata, Dark Skies, and the Plastic Free July Initiative.

Your primary aged kids birthday could be an excuse for a break with friends on Waiheke! For a seriously cool day for 5 – 10 year olds book a party at Talking Tree Hill. Be sure to bring those gumboots and keen kids with open minds and great imaginations. Talking Tree Hill is located at the beginning of the loop road at the eastern end, so after adventures there you could continue around the loop to Man O War Bay, or head back to Onetangi, for winter beach fun and to use one of the free gas BBQs. The July school holiday programme is fully booked, but take note for future holiday programme fun.

The island has fantastic play grounds built and maintained by Auckland Council. Smallest members of the family are catered for at Little Oneroa (with our pick for the island’s best fish and chip shop across the road), at the middle of Palm Beach, and at the Tin Boat Reserve in Onetangi. Bigger kids will find stuff to do at all playground and will enjoy the newest playground which is down by the house-boats in Ostend.

For older kids and teens the Eco-zip is an opportunity to take their breath away, even if it is the climb through the bush back to the top that gets them!

The Onetangi Sports Park which is guarded by a local rooster army (you’ll see what I mean when you get there) is a great place for everyone to get a run about when the Monopoly game turns sour. There are excellent tennis courts, just bring rackets and balls, and at this time of the year soccer and rugby goals are up if teenagers want holiday practice. There is also a great mountain biking trail and a frisbee golf course. The sports park also backs onto a 9 hole golf course where kids are welcome to join you on a round. The facilities are used by local clubs at various times, but they are more often than not available for public use.

There are three stables offering horse riding on the island, with horses and trekking opportunities for all ages and abilities. Winter is a great time to go for a ride either down the Eastern End of the island with Waiheke Horse Tours or in Onetangi for beach, farm and bush tours with Horseworx or Waiheke Equestrian.

Our picks for feeding the hungry hoards are Wild on Waiheke, on the Onetangi Straight and Solar, in Oneroa. Both have kid friendly menus, toys and outdoor play areas. Wild on Waiheke has games (archery and clay bird shooting), beer and wine tastings for grown ups too! If grabbing takeaway pizzas seems the best option we recommend Fenice in Oneroa.

Fishing from a wharf or rocks is always good fun! Pick up a hand line and some bait from the petrol stations at Oneroa, Ostend or Onetangi and head to Matiatia Wharf, the breakwater at Kennedy Point, Fishermans Rock at the end of Newton Rd in Oneroa or the wharf at Orapiu. If you want to get a little more serious about tackle visit Ox in Poto Rd for all your fishing needs and great local advice.

If the weather keeps you indoors Gaye at Waiheke Arts and Crafts, opposite Placemakers in Ostend, has a shop full of toys, games, art and craft supplies. While you are in the neighbourhood pop into the favourite breakfast and lunch spot for locals and tradies, The Carpark Café for the island’s best pies and home baking.