Oneroa, New Zealand

Photo: The Boatshed
Photo: The Boatshed

New Zealand could easily become a destination to which you return time and time again. But it’s just so far away. After two long flights and a layover, you’re completely exhausted and disoriented by the time you arrive. If only there was a place where you could unwind, catch up on sleep, and simply relax each time you land in Auckland. That place might be on nearby Waiheke Island.

Waiheke Island sits in the Hauraki Gulf, just 11 miles and a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland. The gulf’s second-largest island is home to artists and wineries, gorgeous beaches and coastal hiking trails. Many people from the North Island have second homes—Kiwis call their beach cottages baches—here. One of them was turned into a boutique hotel with panoramic views of Oneroa Bay.

The Boatshed is a perfect beach bach. With its portal windows, planked paneling, muted colors, and nautical decor, it feels like a New England beach house. Multi-leveled terraces lead to five suites, two bungalows, and gardens filled with organic vegetables and indigenous dune grass. The cozy living room is lined with books. The kitchen is open, so you can watch the chef work with local produce. A Mini Moke—a beach buggy—sits outside. While sea breezes and glimpses of the calm bay are inescapable.

Photo: The Boatshed
Photo: The Boatshed

Your first night at the Boatshed is a wash. Despite a later-than-expected arrival, the owner still picks you up at the Waiheke ferry terminal, drives less than three miles to the hotel, and offers you a glass of Syrah as you settle in. In your suite, you open the glass doors, step onto the deck, and breath in the salty air. Then you promptly fall asleep on the comfortable bed. You miss sunset, dinner, and the chance to light the fire and sip a glass of port in your room at the end of the evening. Everything can wait.

Everything includes an early breakfast. You had planned on waking up early, sipping a long black on one of the terraces, and walking to Little Oneroa Beach to start the day. But your stomach is grumbling and the food—smoked fish cakes and ricotta hotcakes—smells delicious. A quick coffee stop suddenly turns into a slow breakfast by the garden with tips on where to find the best Bordeaux-style wines and ocean views around the island. Nearby Mudbrick Vineyard will be your first stop, after the beach, of course.

With comfortable rooms, delicious food, and helpful suggestions, the Boatshed is exactly what you needed to begin this trip to New Zealand. It might be where you start many more trips in the future, as well.

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