1. Cascades walk, Whakanewha
Whakanewha Regional Park in Rocky Bay, aka Ōmiha, provides a respite from busy tour buses and summer heat. From the Sculpture Car Park by Whakanewha beach, take the Nīkau Track which leads through dense nīkau groves populated by plump kererū and noisy tūī. Stay on the Tarata Track and continue to the Cascades Loop.
The falls are particularly exciting if it’s been raining when the stream swells from a sedate trickle to, well, a cascade.
Great for rock-hopping, eel spotting and soaking up the native bush serenity. Take a snack, a water bottle and some insect repellent. Waiheke mozzies are vicious.
2. Casita Miro
The vivacious Cat Vosper at Casita Miro is possibly the friendliest vineyard host on the island. Visit Casita Miro for a long lunch of authentic Spanish tapas or a wine tasting, but make sure you check out the work in progress by Cat’s multi-talented husband, doctor, winemaker and sculptor, Barnett Bond. His Gaudi-esque mosaic wall and terrace overlooking the restaurant pavilion has been a labour of love for years, with new additions popping up at every visit.
3. Enjoy the view on the way to Man O’ War
One of the best spots to stop and admire the view is on the road to Man O’ War bay at the ‘bottom end’ of Waiheke. There’s a bench overlooking the Spencer family’s (private, no-access) farmland and down to (boat-access only) Cactus Bay.
No matter what the weather, it’s worth pulling over to take in the view that stretches out to a vast horizon and reminds you that you’re on a tiny island at the bottom of the world.
4. The Courtyard, Oneroa
The Courtyard in Oneroa has one of the freshest, most interesting menus on the island. Casually tucked away downstairs below the main viewing platform on Oneroa’s main street, The Courtyard is favoured by local foodies for brunch, dinner and everything in between.
5. Te Matuku Oysters
It’d be rude to visit Waiheke and not partake in a cheeky dozen. But the best way to enjoy the local delicacy is to eschew restaurant mark-ups, buy a tray of oysters from the flagship Te Matuku store in Ostend and eat them with the sand between your toes on Onetangi beach.