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THE OYSTER INN
Tyler Brule, the achingly cool founder of Wallpaper and Monocle magazines, described The Oyster Inn as a highlight of his visit to Waiheke in his Financial Times column last year. He is not alone in singing the praises of this restaurant and boutique accommodation – it has just three rooms – with its friendly staff, fine locally sourced seafood and breezy holiday vibe. The outdoor deck is ideal for a lazy breakfast or lounging around with a cocktail and enjoying the view of Oneroa Beach. Guests can be picked up from the ferry in the inn's bright yellow vintage VW Kombi van, which is also used for island and winery tours. The bach (beach house) style rooms are comfortable and unpretentious. But light sleepers may need ear plugs if there are late-night revellers in the restaurant or nearby firefighters are called to action. Guest room for two from $150 a night.
Perched high above Little Oneroa Beach, The Boatshed is a curse for any sailor looking to stow their tinny, but a blessing for visitors longing for a secluded getaway. This luxury accommodation has an understated nautical theme, with a private balcony, en suite and lounge in each boatshed room. The Boatshed's veggie patch provides much of the fresh produce used by chef Tibor Matus to create exquisite dishes. The front lawn with its broad deck is perfect for a leisurely breakfast or lazing around trying to spot dolphins and orcas in the water. There is no communal dining but the open-plan kitchen and roaring fire are an invitation to strike up conversation with host Jonathan Scott or other guests. For an extra $145 , guests can also use The Boatshed's mini moke vintage military vehicle to explore the island. Boatshed rooms from $665 a night.
Shaped like a traditional Maori fish hook, Delamore Lodge clings to a cliff above Owhanake Bay and the Hauraki Gulf. Guests descend from the gardens, a curious mix of island natives and dairy farm curios, to the guest lounge, outdoor dining area and guest rooms. The heated infinity pool is a sweet spot to soak in the views, while the cave-like rooms and two-bedroom apartment bask in the sun. A Jacuzzi and sauna are available to rest weary bodies while massages and spa treatments can also be arranged. Chef Aaron Smith dishes up hearty meals using produce from the lodge's gardens and citrus trees as well as locally harvested and fished produce. Delamore Lodge has its own heli-pad, and is a 12-minute chopper ride from Auckland Airport for guests too impatient for city traffic and the 30-minute ferry ride. Suites for two from $915(including GST) a night.
TE WHAU LODGE
Inspired by the bachs of holidays past, but given a luxury makeover, Te Whau Lodge features the best of Waiheke. From the timbers used in the building to the wine cellar and the herbs in Gene O'Neill's cooking, the island's local products take the limelight. Gene and Liz Eglinton make an annual pilgrimage to Languedoc, which provides the inspiration for many of his Gallic-flavoured dishes. Te Whau brings guests together with canapes in the lounge followed by dinner around a communal table, lubricated of course with Waiheke wines. The four lodge rooms drink up the views and are fitted out with a king-size bed, en suite, iPod player and, on request, a television, while the lounge is stocked with books. And, of course, there is a hot tub to soak in after a gruelling day of wining and dining. Guest room for two from $480 a night.
Soaking up the sun between Little Oneroa and Palm Beach on Waiheke's northern coastline, Enclosure Bay is a haven from the island's day-tripper crowds. Each of the three rooms has a private deck with eye-watering views of the HaurakiGulf, Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Peninsula, while the spa has its own deck surrounded by tropical plants to hide from prying eyes. Small luxuries such as as under-floor heating and heated towel rails are provided while the two suites are equipped with kitchens and a Nespresso coffee machine. Meals, picnics and barbecues are all dished up to the tastes of guests who can also sample the wine cellar's collection of Waiheke Island drops. Little Barrier Room from $370 a night.
Waiheke Island's wineries and warm weather are reminiscent of Tuscany so it's no surprise to find an Italian farmhouse at the end of a lavender-lined driveway. Sitting high above Church Bay, Lavender Hill offers fine water views in a secluded location. Guests can stay in one of the Lavender or Olive suites or the Tuscan-style farmhouse, with rustic plaster walls, exposed beams and restored French oak doors. Each accommodation option has sun-drenched patios to relax on by day, and fireplaces to cosy up to at night. Lavender Hill offers a range of packages, including the two-night Little Italy getaway with Italian-inspired breakfasts, an "abundanza" picnic basket and two Vespas to explore the island. The Epicurean Experience features pre-dinner wine tastings and canapes, a picnic lunch of local produce and a private island tour that includes a visit to a local olive oil producer and two local vintners. Guest suites from $480 a night.
The writer was a guest of Tourism New Zealand.