Just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland across Hauraki Gulf, laid-back Waiheke Island is a wine-and art-loverâ€™s playground with more than its share of tasting rooms, lodgings, galleries, and restaurants. But where to begin? Andrew Glenn, co-owner of the islandâ€™s newest lodging optionâ€”the three-room Oyster Inn at Oneroa Bayâ€”takes us on a tour.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PAIRING OF LOCAL FLAVORS? â€śEasy: Te Matuku oysters with Man Oâ€™War Gravestone sauvingnon blanc.â€ť
WHAT OTHER PRODUCE SHOULD VISITORS LOOK FOR? â€śThe surrounding seas are teeming with deliciousness. Snapper, kingfish, terakihi, hapuka â€¦ a local fisherman named Terry Gallon catches these for our restaurant. And of course the oysters. The Waiheke Honey CompanyÂ produces great honey , and I canâ€™t say enough about the seasonal vegetables and fruitsâ€”mandarins, feijoasâ€”that we get from island farms.â€ť
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT?Â â€śWell Iâ€™m biased, of course, but Iâ€™m partial to the food at The Oyster Inn (124 Oceanview Rd., Oneroa; 64-9/372-2222). Our chef, Cristian Hossack, is a deft hand at cooking fish, picked up no doubt from his experience at both The Providores and Scottâ€™s in London.â€ť
A SECOND FAVORITE?Â â€śWaiheke has many great vineyard restaurants, butÂ it would have to be a tie between Poderi Crisci (205 Awaawaroa Rd.; 64-9/372-2148) and Casita Miro (3 Brown Rd., Onetangi; 64-9/372-7854).â€ť
WHAT ABOUT ART? â€śI like the work of Denis Oâ€™Connor, whose lived on the island for 40 years. I acquired a piece for our restaurantâ€™s private room from his â€śGulf Newsâ€ť series, which was apt, as the room occupies what was once the offices of the Gulf News, the beloved local news weekly. Waiheke is awash in resident talents, and the creative buzzÂ is atÂ its height during the biennial Headland Sculpture on the GulfÂ event, which sees the coastal walkway between Matiatia and Te Miro bays dotted with fantastic sculptures. Youâ€™ll have to wait till 2015 for the next edition, though.â€ť
AND YOUR BEACH OF CHOICE?Â â€śI love the far western end of Onetangi Beach. White sand, crystal-clear water, and at low tide I forage for clams to make a delicious spaghetti alle vongole back home. Palm Beach is another great spot on a sunny summerâ€™s day.â€ť
This article originally appeared in theÂ June/July 2013 issueÂ of DestinAsian (â€śFinding Your Way On Waihekeâ€ť)