Waiheke Island may be renowned for its vineyards and scenery – both equally divine – but there’s more to the island than that.
Now you can get a look at some of that spectacular scenery from a totally different perspective – flying over it on a flying fox. Seven excited but slightly nervous girls are about to experience one of Waiheke’s newest activities, EcoZip, and the flying fox is actually a state-of-the-art dual zipline – three of them in fact. Each is higher than the last, which means the views and the thrills only get better as you go.
Our lovely – and very patient – guides Stacey and Helen get us into our safety harnesses and we’re ready to ride. The harnesses don’t do us any favours in the looks department, but at least we know safety is number one. A quick note: come dressed casually and comfortably – no skirts or stilettos welcome here.
The dual ziplines mean you can ride side by side and seeing your mate squealing and giggling next to you is part of the fun. We’re told we can curl up a bit to go faster, but I go for the undignified flapping arms and legs option instead.
Our confidence boosted, the next two rides are even more fun, though admittedly slightly scarier for some of us. The third zipline – appropriately nicknamed Kurinui – Big Dog – is definitely a notch up in the thrill stakes, and by far the most fun. Below and all around us is lush native bush, and the views stretch right out to the Hauraki Gulf and back to the city in the far distance.
After the adrenaline kick from Kurinui, it was time to unwind on the walk back through the bush. Stacey and Helen pointed out various native plants and trees along the way and shared the stories behind them, from the grand Totara to the huge cluster of Nikau palms dubbed the Nikau Cathedral.
By the time we were back at HQ we’d worked up quite an appetite, and luckily our next stop was The Oyster Inn in Oneroa Village. With views out over the water and the beach-chic decor already making a good first impression, we had high hopes for the food. And we were not disappointed.
We kicked off with a jug of homemade lemonade – perfect for a hot day – and house baked sourdough with Rangihoua Estate olive oil, produced on Waiheke.
If you’re in a group, order several different dishes to share – that way you get a taste of everything and no one tries to steal your salt and pepper squid. From the freshly shucked oysters to the pork belly, everything was superb. An honourable mention goes to the pulled pork rib slider with daikon, apple and chilli mayo – sublime.
Much of the produce is grown and sourced locally and the passion of the owners is evident in every bite. Of course, it also helps to have chef Christian Hossack at the helm, formerly head chef at London's Providores. We finished off with rolled pavlova and homemade ice cream before waddling back to the ferry to downtown Auckland.
What a fantastic way to spend a day. Who knew you could have this much fun on Waiheke without a drop of wine?