Thursday, April 29, 2010


Hekerua Lodge

Situated in an acre of beautiful native bush on Waiheke Island, Hekerua Lodge offers the perfect retreat away from Auckland’s madness. Chill out on the many decks, take a dip in their unique rock pool or relax under the stars in their large outdoor spa.

Only a fifteen minutes walk to the many restaurants, cafés, lounges and art studios, the Lodge offers a little from both worlds, nestled amongst the dense native bush land.

Enjoying a BBQ styled dinner with copious amounts of red wine, we relaxed on the outside deck and listened to some of the finest music ever created. Tom the manager of Hekerua and his staff used the marinated muscles from the Oyster Company in a fabulous potato bake. An odd combination, potatoes with muscles but strangely enough it worked.

Accommodation ranges from a teepee and camping to a self-contained double room with a private kitchen, ensuite and TV in the room. There is also private double and twin rooms with shared facilities or an 8-bed dorm room.

Type of accommodation: Rates:
Self/contained cabin for 7 $270
Single room $53
Twin share room $80
Double room $80
Triple room $108
Ensuite double with kitchen/TV $120
4 share room $36 pp
Dorms (sleep 4) $31 pp
Dorms (sleep 8) $29 pp
Camping $17 pp
Teepee $30 pp

For more information please visit their website at:

Breakfast on the Beach Lodge

Luxury waterfront accommodation, Breakfast on the Beach Lodge can be booked exclusively for special occasions, corporate and private functions, or by the room as an Island retreat.

Four luxury guest rooms with large en-suites, open lounge and atrium area that look out over wide sea views make up this Lodge. All rooms are only 30 metres from the beachfront, with three of the rooms having a king bed (including a bridal suite) and the fourth room having two queen beds.

Each room is meticulously set to cater for guests every need, including:

• Fine imported bed linen and feather/down mattress covers
• Bathrobes and exquisite toiletries
• Large flat screen TV, Sky channels and DVD
• Complimentary wine and non-alcoholic drinks in the room fridge
• Free internet access
• Massage and spa treatments available

Rooms are serviced daily. Turn down service includes port, cheese and chocolates to enjoy while relaxing in the evening and watching the twinkling lights across the sea.

The dining and lounge area is an architectural delight comprising floor-to-roof glass looking north and south, a three-sided gas fire and adjoining library. The library holds the latest best-sellers, magazines, local publications and a wide selection of board-games, DVDs and CDs.

Large sliders open out to the petanque court and outdoor garden areas where you can unwind in the hot outdoor spa, sip wine, listen to music and plan the next day's activities, or rest in the hammock under a tree with a good book.

For more information please visit their website at:

Waiheke Island Adventures

Waiheke Island Adventures have a wide range of transport options during your stay on Waiheke Island.

A fun way to see the tropical Island is on a Moped/scooter, however when we were there the weather wasn’t so flash so we opted for a car. There other transport hire includes:

Bus Coaches
Large groups can adventure around Waiheke Island in the luxury of their Waiheke Island Adventures coach. From vineyard tours, scenic and historical tours or just a trip to one of the many fine beaches Waiheke has to offer, they will be there to pick you up and drop you off when you need them.

Transport / Taxis
Taxi Vans offer mid-sized groups the flexibility of time with easy access to all amenities in air conditioned comfort. A great way to see all the sights in one round trip.

Transport / Tuk Tuks
For real adventure, choose a Tuk Tuk to take you places you've never dreamed of. Beautiful South Pacific coves, bays and beaches - majestic views over Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and beyond to Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Penninsula.

They also have many guided tour options including winery and scenic tours. For more information please visit their website:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Whitianga Dive HQ

Dive HQ Whitianga is located right in the heart of Mercury Bay, on the Eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. This was my very first scuba dive experience and I couldn’t have thought of a better place for my first time. The natural beauty is breath taking, with a rich backdrop of cliffs and native bush covered valleys that tower above the beautiful beaches. The abundance of marine life and the clarity of the water also make this a popular destination for diving.

They offer a comprehensive range of recreational and professional dive programs. All training is conducted, utilizing local pool and onsite, state of the art lecture rooms, making training convenient for students.

Ryan and Craig, our instructors for the day, went through some safety procedures in the HQ Dive store and provided me with my gear. Then it was time to board the “SCUBA DOO”. A 759 Super cab trailer boat modified and designed specifically for the needs of their divers.

The Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve was only a short boat trip from Whitianga. Ryan ran through a few more instructions and some hand signals before I stepped off the custom built exit platform and into the water.

The water was ice cold, and I could feel my heart beats getting faster and my ears starting to hurt as we went deeper. Following Ryan, I equalized my ears often, until I felt comfortable to explore the underwater sea…

Suddenly brown seaweed, humongous snapper and beautiful coral surrounded me. The transparency of the water was incredible, I could see so far into the ocean. The fish were not bothered by our presence at all, after a few minutes we became apart of their world and they would idly swim past me without a care in the world.

2 DIVES (gear hire extra) $130.00
2 DIVES (with tanks and weights) $150.00
2 DIVES (with all gear) $199.00

Kuaotunu Store- $5 Kuaotunu Killer

On our drive from Whitianga to Coromandel we stopped off at the Kuaotunu Store. Set in the serene beauty of Kuaotunu, the local store looks out over the river and sea offering magnificent views. The store sells your basic everyday items, however its specialty really is the "Kuaotunu Killer" ice-cream (five scoops of your choice).

I wasn’t game enough to order the Kuaotunu Killer, I couldn’t even finish the $3 ice-cream, which is 2 massive scoops. I can only imagine how big the Kuaotunu Killer is.

There's no better place to sit and enjoy an ice-cream than here.

Driving Creek Railway

Barry Brickell took 32 years to build the 2.6km of tortuous narrow-gauge railway track, after acquiring 22 ha of hilly scrub-covered land in 1973. Some major viaducts, 3 short tunnels, 2 spirals, and 5 reversing points were required to elevate the railway up to the terminus at the Eyefull Tower.

The 1 hour return trip on the innovatively designed train took us through replanted native kauri forest as it climbed up the mountain to the last stop. From here we witnessed colossal views over the island-studded Hauraki Gulf, Auckland and Whaiheke Island.

On the journey up to the Eyefull Tower Paul our train driver presented an informative commentary about the regenerated forest and the history of Driving Creek Railway. Along the way we caught a glimpse of the interesting pottery and artwork by Barry and local and international artists.

The vision behind the Railway and potteries complex is Barry’s passion for combining art, conservation and engineering. Not only has he constructed the narrow gauge railway, he started a major forest restoration project and established New Zealand’s most versatile pottery, sculpture, tile and brick-making workshop.

We disembarked the train at the shop where we found interesting local pottery, glassware, souvenirs and woodcarving.

This was a very cool train that is suited for all age groups. For more information please visit their website at:

Pepper Tree Restaurant

Majestically situated in the heart of Coromandel Township, the Pepper Tree Restaurant offers a unique dining experience rich in Coromandel history.

They offer fresh local seafood and modern New Zealand cuisine. I can just imagine enjoying a light lunch in their sun-soaked courtyard and shaded verandas over summer. However on the night we were there the weather was cold and rainy so I enjoyed a hearty steak with vegetables and mashed potatoes next a cosy open fire.

Anchor Lodge Motel

Anchor Lodge is located in Coromandel Town on the west coast of New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula and provides a wide range of accommodation. From spa apartments and suites with stunning views to modern motel units with full kitchen facilities to luxury hostel accommodation for backpackers. Facilities for all guests include an outdoor BBQ area, a heated swimming pool and a spa.

Located only 400 metres from the town centre overlooking Coromandel Harbour, we were walking distance from some of Coromandel’s best restaurants, including Pepper Tree.

Our apartment was set over three levels with the master king bedroom on a mezzanine floor, a queen bedroom, and two single beds in the lounge room. The large bathroom contains a large spa bath with private windows that overlook the native bush.

The fully self-contained apartment featured a large deck on which you can sit and enjoy the spectacular view of the Coromandel ranges. Well appointed, spacious, modern and sleek, this spa suite has everything you could possibly need.

Spa apartments: $185 - $330
Spa suites: $125 - $220

For more information on their other accommodation options and rates please visit their website at:

The Waterworks

Far from the hustle and bustle of daily life lies The Waterworks, five acres of fun filled gardens set in the beautiful Coromandel bush. A tourist attraction (formerly known as Waiau Waterworks) in the Coromandel, Waterworks is like nothing I have ever seen before. Showcasing the best of quirky Kiwi ingenuity, Geoff, the owner and operator assures me there is nothing like Waterworks in New Zealand nor the rest of the world!

There is something like 1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 litres of water on earth and Geoff and his crew have taken their portion of it and turned it into a liquid fun park! Water is used to keep accurate time on the wooden water clock, arming water cannons to blast away on, pumping H20 through the water-bikes, and for splashing about in the natural swimming hole. However the best part for me was the big flying fox- it was awesome.

The Waterworks offers a full catering service in their large café offering outdoor and indoor seating. Alternatively, you can bring your own food and refreshments, relax in the bush setting picnic sites and use their outdoor BBQ’s.

Getting to The Waterworks was an experience itself. Located along the 309 Road we were visited by some wild boar and their piglets. So we decided to pull over and feed them some of our muesli. Before we knew it one boar and two piglets turned into about 40 wild pigs all barging each other over trying to get to our muesli in the Wicked Van.

For more information please visit their website at:

The Oster Company

South of Coromandel township, this outlet serves freshly harvested and shucked oysters. The harbour side shop also sells fresh local mussels, their own marinated mussels, prawns, local scallops, kina and smoked seafood, sauces, souvenirs and a delicious Mussel Chowder.

Anne has been growing oysters for over 20 years in the pristine waters of the Coromandel and her aim is to provide premium Coromandel Oysters at an affordable price. The store is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm.


Rapaura is the realization of the vision and creativity of two very dedicated people. When Fritz and Josephine Loennig purchased 64 acres of scrub and grazing land in the early 1960’s, little did they know that Rapaura would become an international attraction.

Today, almost 40 years later, the present owner Sally Sank and her family are dedicated to the nurturing and on going creation of Rapaura.

Water Gardens

Rapaura is made up of native bush and ferns, water gardens, birds (Tuis, Fantails, Silver Eyes and Wood Pigeons), meandering walks over bridges and streams, and a bush walk to a beautiful cascading waterfall.

There are seasonal displays of native and exotic flowers interspersed with garden art. During the hours of 9 to 5 the Gardens are open to the public but when the gate closes, the estate becomes a private playground for guests staying in Rapoura’s Boutique Accommodation.

Popular for weddings and functions Rapaura’s Water Gardens are just stunning.

Koru at Rapoura

After our walk out to the spectacular waterfall we returned to the café to find a delicious curry soup waiting for us. Served in a china teacup this soup was just divine. My only disappointment was that it wasn’t bigger! However you can order it as a main, which I would recommend.

For a main I had the flounder, which was served with a side salad and freshly baked bread. If I thought things couldn’t get much better Sacha, the chef, gave us cheesecake and chocolate cake to take with us. I had the cheesecake and it was honestly to die for.

Rapoura Boutique Accommodation

They offer accommodation in either the Lodge or a Country Cottage, both are situated in the grounds of Rapaura.

The Lodge offers two bedrooms with queen-sized beds (one with an ensuite), a large open plan living and dining area, fully equipped kitchen, breakfast room, pantry and numerous decks. There is also a laundry room, adjacent garage and BBQ facilities.

The Garden Cottage comprises a bedroom with a queen-sized bed, bathroom, open plan fully-equipped kitchen and dining area, a lounge and an outside patio. Continental breakfast provisions (which are stocked in the kitchen prior to the guest’s arrival) are included as are books, magazines, music and games.

For more information please visit their website at: