Where does the name Hei Matau come from? It all started out with a purchase of a wooden carving at a school art fair which we thought would suit the property – it was called Hei Matau and its a large stylised fishhook. On researching what Hei Matau meant we found out that” Matau” is fishhook in Maori and a fishhook is associated with hospitality, strength and prosperity – if you have a fishhook you can feed your family. A “Hei Matau” as such is a stylized fishhook carving you often see people wearing and it is a good luck charm for travellers especially for travel over water. Putting all that together we felt Hei Matau seemed like an appropriate name for an island beachfront lodge.
Luxury Adventures work with a lot of properties in the South Pacific and particular New Zealand, a true beach front location such as Hei Matau is quite unique, was this intentional when you started Hei Matau? We saw the beach, the size of the property, the west facing nature of the site and the closeness to the ferry and Oneroa as our competitive advantage if we were to open up an accommodation business. It is unique on Waiheke Island– there are a lot of great properties with views but there is no other lodge where you walk straight from the front lawn directly onto a secluded beach.
Tell us about your location and the wonderful Waiheke Island. We are set in 7 1/2 acres in a semi rural setting at the western end of the island with uninterrupted sea views from every room- you look across the water to Motuihe and Rangitoto islands with the lights of Auckland way in the distance – it feels like you are miles from anywhere but the reality is that you are only 5 minutes from the ferry and Oneroa. On the way to Hei Matau you pass three world class vineyards and two of the Island’s top restaurants so you are hardly isolated… That is also the beauty of Waiheke – it is easily accessible from Auckland but feels like a world away – Waiheke has beautiful sandy beaches and scenery, great walks, a thriving art community, world beating olive oil producers and some of the best wine producers and restaurants in New Zealand – what more could you want on holiday!
Can you expand about the types of accommodation available at Hei Matau, and what type of guest the property is most suited to? We have a whole host of accommodation options from villa rental to hosted bed and breakfast. A family or a number of families can book the lodge and have the place to themselves on a self catered basis. We have a bunkroom wing with a separate bathroom, lounge and bunkroom with 6 bunkbeds which is ideal for kids and gives them their “own” space leaving the adults to fill the premier rooms. We have also hosted a number of corporate offsites again providing over night accommodation for senior management teams. On the hosted side we have 3 lodge rooms available (suites really) for people who want to be pampered and stay in luxurious surroundings with all the trappings to go with that – sorry no children under 12 allowed on a bed and breakfast basis.
What activities do you recommend to our clients staying on Waiheke Island? Start by relaxing at the lodge – go for a stroll around the grounds and coast, swim in the pool or at the beach. Luxuriate in the hot spa and have a massage in house – we have a great mobile massage service that comes to the Lodge. Then top of the list has to be a vineyard/island tour – you can either jump on an organised tour or have something tailored to you own requirements – hiring a car for a day is great option to get right around the island. From the lodge there are a number of great coastal walks that guests enjoy – you can walk through native bush and around the coast and end up at Cable Bay or Mudbrick Vineyards and while the day away with a glass of wine or two. For those into art we organise visits to galleries and artist studios and with plenty of advance notice visits can be organised to Connell’s Bay Sculpture park which is world class. For the more adventurous there is the Ecozip, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaking, fishing and sailing.
There are many great restaurants on Waiheke Island, where would be your top recommendation? At the moment our favourite is The Shed at Te Motu – it just won best rural restaurant in the Metro Magazine awards – their menu is interesting and inventive – that said, Te Whau, The Oyster Inn, Casita Miro and Poderi Crisci all were also in the Metro top 50 restaurants in Auckland so we are spoiled for choice. Stonyridge Restaurant is also a favourite for lunch where you can often find some visiting rock star!! On our doorstep we also have Cable Bay and Mudbrick – both have fine dining and bistro/winebar options – each has a fantastic outdoor area facing west where you can sit and watch the sun go down.
Tell me why people should stay at Hei Matau and what sort of experience can they expect? We recently had a German Travel writer stay with us and we asked her how we compared to other high end places she stayed in New Zealand, she said she thought our location and views are “unbeatable” – Our service is very much “personalised” and the surroundings are generous, modern and luxurious – the food is to die for and definitely not for the weight conscious!! You feel you are a world away from civilisation and have everything you need to relax onsite but really are only minutes away from civilisation.
If you could pick only one other New Zealand destination to spend 3 or 4 days where would it be and why? That would have to be Queenstown – fantastic accommodation, scenery, loads of things to see and do coupled with great wine and food, a bit like Waiheke really!
Do you find many guests pop back to Auckland either for restaurants or sightseeing, and use Hei Matau as a base? It is funny but not many people think of that until we point out to them how easy it is to do – there is basically a ferry every hour both ways so you can base yourself on Waiheke and enjoy the delights of Auckland from here. There are a huge number of great restaurants within walking distance of the ferry terminal. You can catch the “Explorer Bus” from the ferry terminal and this takes you to all of Auckland’s top attractions – just hop on and hop off going from one attraction to the other..
Tony Townley is a luxury lifestyle specialist and owner of Luxury Adventures. Talk to us about planning your next visit to New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands. Tony stayed at Hei Matau for the weekend last year.