Mawhiti, Waiheke Island, New Zealand (Vrbo): The days now have a touch of chill; the gourds have been picked, shined, and placed in charming piles; and the pumpkin spice lattes are being consumed like they’re water in the desert—winter is on its way to the Northern Hemisphere. This means only one thing: it’s time to start planning your escape from the coming snow to more friendly climes. New Zealand’s Waiheke Island would be a dream destination even if you had to rough it (in 2017, Vogue labeled it the “Hamptons of New Zealand”), but luckily for you, that sleeping bag can go right out the window thanks to Mawhiti, an architectural masterpiece that has plenty of luxurious rooms and plush amenities all situated in an outdoor paradise.
First things first, this property should be considered design royalty. The home was inspired by this feature that now also resides on the grounds. Known as the “Gateway Pavilion,” this sculptural piece was designed as a contender for the 2012 Venice Architectural Biennale and was created for Waiheke Island’s famed outdoor art installation, Sculpture on the Gulf.
Rather than one big living space, this home consists of multiple structures for communal living, private living, and, of course, outdoor living. In short: the best of every world.
Names hold power, whether you’re naming a newborn or a new slice of paradise. So, without further ado, may we present you with Mawhiti, which means “escape.” The listing agent says that this property was designed for “peace, tranquillity, and serenity.” But we could have told you that after one look at this photo.
There is nothing we like more than soaring ceilings that are only matched by sizable front porches. This is one of the places you’ll be lounging with a glass of New Zealand’s finest—or go even more local and choose a vintage from one of Waiheke’s several dozen wineries—as you watch the sunset against the backdrop of the ocean.
The entire house was designed to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out. When someone asks us to go camping, we assume this is what they’re talking about. (The wall slides all the way open to let in the great outdoors, after all. If that’s not camping, we don’t know what is!)
Waiheke Island isn’t the easiest destination to get to, which is part of the secret sauce that makes it such a delicious getaway. After you fly to Auckland, the largest city in the North Island of the country, you can choose to either jump on the ferry for a 30-minute ride to your final destination, or spring for a set of wings and helicopter on over.
Mawhiti is not only an architectural celebrity, it also is something of a local museum. The art and sculptures placed throughout the property were carefully selected from the work of the island’s finest local artists.
Just like this house with its cool but casual vibe, the island is all about the mix of high and lowbrow. While it used to be a bohemian enclave, it now attracts the poshest set, yet the island remains relatively relaxed. On days when you’re not quite feeling like birdwatching, you can strap on those binoculars and see if you spy any of the islands other colorful visitors. (Think Madonna, Beyoncé, Shailene Woodley, Taylor Swift, and Justin Timberlake.)
If you’re culinarily inclined, the house has a chef’s kitchen which we’re sure is calling your name. On the other hand, if your idea of cooking is moving dinner from a carton to a plate, rest assured that this island is equipped with plenty of options where you can eat, drink, and be merry without lifting a finger. Even more appealing is the fact that, while your dining companions might include the likes of Cindy Crawford, no couture is required.
This gorgeous view is one of the best features of the house. Over brekkie, look out over the Hauraki Gulf and its uninhabited islands.
The house features four bedrooms and four bathrooms and sleeps eight. The design not only provides very eye-pleasing symmetry, it also ensures that the sleeping quarters are the same size. For once, there will be no tussling over who gets the master.
Anyone up for a bedtime, dip? If you prefer your bodies of water to be more au naturel, then you can wander down to the private beach and dip your feet into the clear blue sea instead.
It’s clear why Vogue compared Waiheke Island to the Hamptons though, if we may be so bold, we think that New Zealand’s version has one long toned and tanned leg up on New York’s favorite glittering playground. After a year stuck at home stateside, you can’t beat the dream of relocating to the sunny climes of New Zealand to “winter” in style.
Book Your Stay: Mawhiti, Waiheke Island, New Zealand $1,815/night via Vrbo