Waiheke Island is the epitome of paradise. Located a short 35-minute ferry ride from the coast of Auckland, it’s a must-visit stop for every traveler to New Zealand. Food and wine enthusiasts can enjoy full days of tastings at the lush vineyards and olive tree groves scattered throughout the island. Outdoor adventurers have the choice of watersports and fishing at the white-sand beaches or hiking and ziplining through the island’s rolling hills. Yet the most enjoyable part of my trip to New Zealand was staying at the Waiheke Island Guesthouse.
The owners, Grant and Nat, are a friendly Australian couple with immense knowledge of the island. With the goal of sharing their love of Waiheke, they welcome guests year-round to rent a room in their guesthouse and experience the laid-back island lifestyle.
"We love that this is a simple place of unpretentious beauty,” Nat told me. “It’s so peaceful and close to nature.”
On a typical morning, guests can partake in a number of activities, from feeding the couple’s three roaming alpacas to taking a yoga class led by Nat. A breakfast of muesli and fresh fruit is included in the stay and can be enjoyed in the communal kitchen or on the terrace. Guests will also find a bowl of fresh eggs — sourced from the couple’s chickens — that can be cooked and snacked on at any time of the day.
Though each room has a television with Apple TV and Netflix access, guests will likely prefer lounging in the outdoor hammock or taking a dip in the spa pool. Nat also offers guided luxury van tours of the island that can be customized to fit each guest’s needs.
During our tour, my family and I visited a few different wineries, had a picnic on the grass, tasted olive oils at a grove and finished the day with a waterfall hike. And, of course, the alpacas and Nat and Grant’s adorable dog, Shanti, were waiting eagerly on their driveway for our return.