Last week I shared with you our first night in New Zealand, spent at the colourful and charming Mollies in Auckland. See post here. The following morning we took the ferry from the Ferry Terminal across the harbour to Waiheke Island, which was an easy 35 min ride, taking in beautiful scenery on the way.
Once on Waiheke, it was an easy 5 min walk to the car hire office, where we picked up a small car to scoot around the island. We arrived at our digs minutes after that, knowing very little about it, and were so thrilled with what we found – Marino Ridge, exclusive luxury accommodation. What a find!
I had been googling luxury lodges of NZ for weeks and this place came up. As we only had a short time we couldnt visit the more remote lodges on the North Island and needed something near Auckland. It was also recommended by a few places on the island, whose lodges were booked out. So I thought we couldn’t go wrong. But I didn’t realise it was hosted accommodation until we got there. To be honest, we may not have gone there had we known what it was, as you never know what the “hosts” are going to be like, but so glad we did because it was a delightful and wonderful experience in every way and our hosts were utterly charming!
Our room was separate to the main building (actually beneath it) and accessed independently which suited us. We didn’t have to go through the house to get to our room. It also had the best views and was very private and separate, which we liked. The other three rooms are beautifully spacious and well appointed, but within the main house. It depends on what suits you.
The Rugby World Cup was on the night we arrived, which Tom was very keen to watch. I wasn’t! So Caroline and Peter set him up in a room off the garage with his own TV and armchair, so he didn’t have to disturb me or the other guests getting up at 4am to watch the final.
Our hosts Peter and Caroline have had incredibly varied and interesting lives and have recently built this stunning place to provide luxury hosted accommodation on the island in their retirement. Their knowledge of the country and island is fabulous and they are happy to share as much information and tips as you want to hear. Peter is a sailor and had many years experience not only in the navy but on luxury yachts and sailing around NZ and the world, while Caroline has years of experience in catering and hospitality, also on super yachts, she is an exceptional cook and their finesse and style is evident in all they do.
During our two days on the island we took in many wineries, restaurants and sights, it was almost a sensory overload. I can’t tell you how amazing the food, produce, menus and whole dining experience was. Not to mention the local wine, from over 20 wineries. Just spectacular.
The countryside on Waiheke is a bit like Cornwall meets the South Pacific, if you can imagine such a thing. The terrain is very English in its greenery, hills, vegetation and softness. And yet here we are stuck in the middle of the Pacific in a rather tropical locale, which makes it feel very much like Fiji when you look at the colour of the water, islands and the still seas. It’s quite breathtaking.
You can take a walk down the track to the little bay below the lodge, and wander around the headland where you get to peak at some of the palatial homes.
Every spot you lounge at Marino Ridge Lodge has panoramic views of the bays. Peter and Caroline provide breakfast each morning, catering to your every whim. They also provide delicious canapes and drinks before you go out for dinner each night. All beautifully prepared fresh and seasonal local produce.
We ate out at Mudbrick Vineyard one evening, which was one of the most sensational meals we have ever had. Simply stunning.
We also had a laze around at Cable Bay winery, where you can lounge about it giant bean bags with a bottle of wine and enjoy the sun and views. It was a unique experience and we are looking forward to returning soon to explore this amazing place in more depth. I highly recommend it.