- Near Auckland, New Zealand, is Waiheke Island, known as the Hamptons of New Zealand.
- I booked a 140-square-foot tiny house on the small island for $475 for two nights.
- The home was one of the most picturesque places I've stayed. It made using a porta-potty worth it.
About a 40-minute ferry ride off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand, is Waiheke Island. The 12-mile island is dotted with multimillion-dollar mansions, fields of vineyards, and seafood galore.
I landed in Auckland, New Zealand, with a few days to fill.
As I started chatting with locals and searching for a way to spend that precious extra time, Waiheke Island continually came up.
A couple at a bar urged me to visit for the multitude of wineries on the island. Another woman thought I might enjoy the island's pristine beaches. If I was into history, one man told me he thought the island's abandoned WWII reserve was worthy of a visit.
I was convinced. And clearly, other people are as well. The island, which is home to about 10,000 residents, welcomes 900,000 visitors every year, according to Auckland Council.
Waiheke Island has also earned a reputation as The Hamptons of New Zealand for its multimillion-dollar mansions and wealthy vacationers like Bill Gates, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé, according to Vogue.
After hearing Waiheke touted for its wine, views, and celebs, I set out to spend two nights exploring the island myself.
Waiheke Island swaps hotel chains for boutique hotels and mega-resorts for luxe vacation rentals.
Waiheke Island has a range of visitors. Some travelers take a day trip to visit the island's vineyards and wineries; others stay for longer.
For those who plan to sleep on the island, they won't find a Hilton or Marriott. But that doesn't mean the island can't accommodate all types of wallets. On Airbnb, for instance, vacation rentals can cost under $100 for small and simple accommodations. And according to Champion Traveler, the average nightly vacation rental costs between $140 and $580 for an entire home.
Tucked among these rentals are multimillion-dollar mansions, which is where you're more likely to find the island's celebrity vacationers. Lady Gaga, for instance, stayed in Fossil Cove, which anyone can book for $10,000 NZD a night, or about $6,219 USD, according to the property's website.
I wasn't working with a celebrity budget, so I found a tiny home for $475 — with a porta-potty.
For my trip to Waiheke Island, an affordable home with ocean views was my priority. I was worried the "affordable" part might be tough to find on an island known for wealth.
Surprisingly, I found a handful of seemingly good options as I scrolled through Airbnb and Vrbo. A listing on Airbnb called Lover's Point caught my eye.
"The moment you arrive at the stunning clifftop cabin, every way you look, the views, quite simply, take your breath away," the listing states.
After a few reviewers mentioned spotting penguins and dolphins nearby, I was sold.
But the Airbnb had one catch: It didn't have the traditional, Western-style bathroom with a flushing toilet or indoor shower. Instead, I'd have to rely on a porta-potty and outdoor shower for the two nights.
Typically, I wouldn't consider a $475 Airbnb without a funny functioning toilet, but I booked the tiny home hoping the views would be worth it.
Insider paid for the Airbnb, per our reporting standards.
I arrived at the island by ferry, picked up my rental car, and drove 10 minutes to the tiny home.
Most people, including me, embark on a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland. However, Vogue reported that for the wealthier travelers, it's just a 12-minute helicopter ride from the city.
Once I arrived on the island, I grabbed a rental car. It seemed like a rental car was optional depending on where you stay and what you plan to do. A hop-on-hop-off bus brings tourists to the popular wineries, but places like the WWII reserve are only accessible by driving.
I navigated the island's winding roads, scaled a steep driveway in my rental car, and arrived at Lover's Point.
The tiny house was on private property, but when I arrived I felt like I was in someone's backyard due to the proximity of the neighbor's house.
With another house nearby, I was a bit concerned about privacy — especially since my only option was an outdoor shower.
As I looked around, I didn't see the tiny house. The neighbor said hello and I spotted a gravel path that led to the Airbnb.
A gravel path marked the trail to the tiny house.
As I started walking down the gravel path, I was treated to a nearly 180-degree view of Waiheke's Enclosure Bay.
The sun was slowly setting, and the views were already incredible. I could see a few houses off in the distance to the right, but as I hiked down the path, even those went out of eyesight.
The tiny house was built into the cliff, and surrounding it was a wooden deck.
After my short walk, I arrived at the tiny house.
Sure enough, the views were impressive. A gradient of blues stretched from the shore of the bay to the horizon. All I could hear were the sounds of nearby waves crashing against the picturesque cliff I was now standing on.
There was also plenty of privacy. The tiny house was tucked away from the neighboring house. And while I had just driven through roads dotted with driveways and houses, I could only spot a few homes in the distance from the deck of my tiny house.
The front deck had a set of reclining chairs, a small table and chairs, and one of two outdoor showers.
As I watched the sunset from the deck, I had my choice between two reclining chairs or a small outdoor table with chairs.
Since the tiny house didn't have an indoor bathroom, this meant my shower was outside.
The property comes with two outdoor showers on either side of the home. The first, which was near the table and chairs, was more exposed but had views of the ocean.
Behind the tiny house was a second outdoor shower, a sink, and a water tank.
The second outdoor shower felt more private, located next to the home's water tank and surrounding foliage.
In the same area was an outdoor sink. While the tiny home had an indoor sink, I imagine this one would be helpful if I was using the barbeque or cleaning off gear from a beach trip.
Initially, an outdoor shower in cold temps didn't sound ideal. It was winter in New Zealand when I visited, which meant the weather in Waiheke would reach the 40s during the night. But plenty of hot water coupled with ocean sounds and stargazing changed my mind. And by the end of the stay, the outdoor shower was my favorite part of the tiny house.
A sliding glass door from the deck opened to the small home.
The tiny house had a single entrance, which was a sliding glass door that faced the bay.
Inside, the home had an open layout with simple, beach-themed accents.
Using the measuring app on my phone, I calculated that the entire interior of the home was about 140 square feet.
The host incorporated natural, beachy elements throughout the space. Wall decor bedazzled with seashells filled the wall above the bed and plants filled the windows. I thought the light decor made the tiny home feel both spacious and homey.
A queen-size bed and two nightstands were placed to the right of the entrance.
The tiny home had plenty of space for a queen-size mattress and side tables.
Through the windows, I could hear the soft sounds of the waves crashing, which felt like the Airbnb had its own white-noise machine.
The waves combined with warm, soft bedding made for the ideal atmosphere for falling asleep peacefully both nights.
The host provided beach gear on a bench, which was where I stored my luggage.
A built-in bench was positioned parallel to the bed. Here, my Airbnb host laid out towels, beach chairs, and an umbrella, all of which I could use during my stay.
The Airbnb didn't have direct access to a beach, but there was one within walking distance and a handful of beaches were just a short drive away.
During my two nights, I used the bench to store my luggage and also as a table when it was too cold to eat outside.
On the other side of the house was the kitchen.
While I didn't cook during my stay, the Airbnb was equipped with everything I'd need to make a basic meal.
Although I didn't have a flushing toilet, I was thankful for the indoor kitchen sink. I didn't cook, but the sink was where I washed my hands after the trek to the porta-potty and where I brushed my teeth before bed.
A kitchen cabinet opened up to reveal a small fridge, microwave, coffee maker, kettle, and toaster.
The Airbnb host provided milk, coffee, and tea for my stay. I also had access to other kitchen amenities like a microwave and cooktop burner.
I thought the pull-down door to the cabinet helped the tiny home feel clean and decluttered.
Outside the tiny house and along the gravel path was the porta-potty. I thought it was an upgrade from the ones I've used at music festivals.
It took me just a minute or two to walk from the tiny house to the porta-potty.
I braced myself for what was inside and opened the plastic door. Honesty, I was surprised.
It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. While it was similar to most porta-potties I've used, it didn't have the typically horrid smell I associate with them. I thought it was much nicer than the porta-potties I relied on at Coachella just a few months earlier.
Plus, the Airbnb host attempted to make the bathroom as pleasant as possible. There was plenty of toilet paper, room scent spray, and hand sanitizer tucked in a basket.
While the nightly treks to the porta-potty were my least favorite part of my stay, they were ultimately worth it.
Before bed both nights, I debated if I absolutely needed to go to the bathroom or if my bladder was large enough to hold it overnight.
I didn't risk it, and instead, turned on my phone's flashlight, laced up my sneakers, and embarked on a short journey to the porta-potty.
Those treks were my least favorite part of the stay since they meant crawling out of my warm bed and heading outside into New Zealand's winter night.
But ultimately, I think the 30-foot walk was worth it. Placing the porta-potty a short walk away meant it wasn't sharing space on the deck where I enjoyed an outdoor shower and dinner both nights.
I looked around, and the tiny house had everything I needed for two nights plus endless views of the ocean.
With just 140 square feet, there wasn't anything I was missing for the two nights. New Zealand's winters are mild, but the Airbnb host provided a small heater for the tiny house.
If I wanted to explore the nearby beaches, I was set with all the beach basics. Although, the thought of never leaving the tiny house was enticing.
I attempted to spend as much time at the house as possible. I soaked in the sunset views while dining on Thai takeout one evening, and the next morning, I set my alarm early enough to watch the sunset from the deck.
In a place known as The Hamptons of New Zealand, I expected the views and privacy to come at a much higher price.
While the tiny home was far from the luxury I'd expect to find in the Hamptons, it had the seaside charm and million-dollar views I associate with places like it.
No, Lover's Cabin wasn't a luxury vacation rental worthy of celebrities or millionaires. But that's not what it's attempting to be.
Instead, it felt more like a nicer version of glamping, and I'd choose Lover's Cabin over any of the five-star hotels I've slept in. Sure, it lacked a luxe spa, but its homey atmosphere, pristine ocean views, and privacy created a place I won't forget.
When I booked the tiny house, I wasn't sure the views would be worth using a porta-potty. But after two nights, I decided that it absolutely was.