Waiheke Island, Photograph by Luke Andrews
Waiheke Island, Photograph by Luke Andrews

On The House | Kick-Starting Waiheke Island’s Economy

More than 80 generous Waiheke homeowners and accommodation providers are donating their rental houses, baches and hotel rooms, (19-20 Jun) for a clever campaign designed to stimulate the struggling island economy.


Called On The House, the idea is simple. Visitors to the island will rent one of the participating properties, and homeowners will indeed let them stay On The House. The rental fee* will be passed on and converted into ‘Waiheke dollars’, a spending credit for goods and services redeemable across the island.


For example, if a house costs $1,000 to rent for the weekend, the renters will have the equivalent of $1,000* in Waiheke dollars to redeem at various Waiheke businesses participating in the programme.


The project is the brainchild of several local Waiheke residents including Kim Rae, owner of Stay Waiheke, a home rental business on the island.


“We want people to come to Waiheke and enjoy and experience what’s on offer. They can use their Waiheke dollars for wine tasting, ziplining, retail therapy, car rentals, e-bike rentals, green fees to play golf, eating at one of our incredible restaurants, cafes…the list goes on. You can even book a seaplane to get there. There are countless options of things to do for a fabulously fun weekend away.”


‘Waiheke dollars’ can also be spent at award-winning restaurants and vineyards including Tantalus Estate, Oyster Inn, Three Seven Two, Mudbrick, The Shed at Te Motu, Casita Miro, Man O War, and many more.


Rae says the concept is very ‘Waiheke’. “It’s a beautiful place to live with an incredibly caring and giving community so it’s very much ‘give back to get back’. So many businesses have been hit hard by the absence of tourism, and as locals it is up to us to drive money back into the local economy.


“We also want to remind New Zealanders that Waiheke is not just a summer destination, it’s a great place to snuggle by the fire with a glass of award-winning syrah. There’s so much to do and see, even in winter.”


A broad range of homes, from clifftop luxury retreats to simple cottages, offer a wide choice of accommodation options. Bookings close 12 June. Hotels are also supporting the programme, including The Oyster Inn, whose new owner Josh Emett has offered a room in support of Waiheke, as have internationally acclaimed, The Boatshed.


Businesses on the island have been hard hit with accommodation bookings down with one agency 72% for June compared to last year. One wine tour operator has seen their bookings drop from 490 people last May to only four people booked this May.


Owner of ziplining company Ecozip, Gavin Oliver says: “Our current forward bookings for the rest of 2020, are only sufficient to pay our team’s wages for five days.”


The campaign is part of a broader marketing campaign of the Waiheke Island Tourism Forum, a civic-minded community chamber of commerce representing over 100 of the island’s businesses, all heavily reliant on tourist trade. Accommodation, retail, hospitality, and transport employ upwards of 25% of the island’s workforce.


*after linen, cleaning and a small administrative fee is deducted. Visit onthehouse.nz for more information