Not many major cities can boast an idyllic island getaway a mere 35-minute ferry ride away. So if you’re spending time in Auckland, make a point of hopping on the ferry and heading across to Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf. With world-class wineries (about 30 vineyards in total), olive oil estates, beautiful beaches and a lively art scene, you won’t be disappointed.
Originally a hippie hangout, Waiheke attracts international celebrities, artists, writers, poets and regular folk who come to experience the quiet, laid-back vibe of a small town, while still offering the comforts of great food, wine and wonderful hospitality.
If you enjoy an intimate setting with stunning ocean views, personal service and fabulous food, then your itinerary should include a couple of nights at Delamore Lodge. Only one kilometre from the Matiatia Ferry Terminal, the lodge can arrange to pick you up or, alternately, you can opt for the more adventurous helicopter ride from Auckland city (10-15 minutes flying time lands you right at the doorstep). I decided to rent a car to explore the island, but there are also plentiful buses, taxis, electric bicycles and tour shuttle buses.
Once you enter the iron gates of Delamore Lodge, you may want to give a silent thank you to owner Roselyn Barnett-Storey for sharing this incredible spot. Her original plan was to build her private home here; but fortunately for guests of the island, this special spot is now available for our enjoyment. The curved walls of the Mediterranean-style lodge, with its structural timber beams, Italian-inspired outdoor fireplace and olive and citrus trees, give the place a real Tuscan feel.
The positioning of the infinity pool, set at the front of the property, allows you to enjoy the biggest drawcard of the lodge – the expansive view over Owhanake Bay. For extra relaxation, there is also a central courtyard with water features and a cave-like area that houses a large spa tub and sauna. Spa treatments can also be arranged on site.
The lodge itself is open plan, with a sweeping staircase that leads to a large lounge area, kitchen and fireplace. There are several seating areas, both inside and outside, with oversized leather couches and chairs. You can mingle with other guests or choose a more intimate corner and enjoy your privacy. There are four suites facing north across the bay, plus a two-bedroom apartment ideal for a family or couples travelling together. The suites are decorated in neutral earthy tones and the bathrooms have open showers with river rock floors. All rooms also have private patios, perfect for enjoying tea in the morning or a glass of wine in the afternoon.
Beach bags and towels are conveniently provided, so take a stroll to the beach below or head into town and choose from Oneroa or Little Oneroa beach – both are suitable for swimming and kayaking. Enjoy lunch in town and head back in time for pre-dinner wine and canapés in the central lounge. There are plenty of dining options in the village; but of course there is always the option to dine-in at the lodge in front of the fire, and we were happy that we did. Chef Eddie is talented beyond his years. A young local with a passion for food and a desire to please, he went out of his way to make sure we were well taken care of. Our meal included roasted eggplant with pomegranate, goats’ cheese and Moroccan spice, and a beautiful pan-seared John Dory. Other options included seared local duck with pomegranate jus, apple and fennel salad, prime Wagyu beef with a roasted smoked paprika and duck fat potato. Capping off the delicious meal was the house-made dessert – a deconstructed lemon curd tart paired with raspberry vinegar, goji berries, crystallised rose petals and salted caramel ice cream.
There is no set structure to the breakfast menu; instead, the chef is happy to accommodate your preferences. We started out with fresh fruit, pastries, yogurt and granola, and then ordered poached eggs and mushrooms. If you get peckish during the day, there is always the tea station in the lounge area with a selection of refreshments and delicious homemade cookies.
The owner has managed to create a space which draws inspiration from the cultural history of the surrounds. Using the traditional Māori fish hook – called a hei matau – as the basis for the lodge’s architectural design. Roselyn has not neglected her ability to command the attention of many people – once living the life of a corporate CEO, she now chooses to focus that same energy and commitment on guest satisfaction.