Waiheke Island, just 18km from the city, is a popular escape from Auckland City’s hustle and bustle, offering a paradise for Aucklanders and backpackers alike. Whether you want to relax on the island, drink wine on a vineyard tour, visit Jazz Festivals or take on some challenging walks, water sports or zip lining through the trees, Waiheke is just the spot for you!
And we’re not the only ones who love it here, Waiheke Island was voted as one of the top 5 places to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet.
Waiheke is just an easy ferry ride away. Waiheke Island’s Matiatia Bay is only a 35-minute ferry trip from the Auckland City Ferry terminal. The ferries run regularly throughout the day from 5.35am until 11.45pm on weekdays (times may vary slightly on weekends and public holidays). Don’t forget to grab your copy of our Ezi Activity Discount Map for 20% Discount with Explore! If you need, you can also take your car with you by car ferry or if your budget bears no constraints, why not take a scenic flight over the islands of the Hauraki Gulf on your way to Waiheke.
There are a number of different ways to explore this blissful island so take your pick. Hiring bikes is a popular option for many people coming here for beach and vineyard hopping. But, beware, you will be tackling rather hilly terrain so if you need that little extra push up those hills, hire an electric bike. If biking ins’t your desired mode of transport, you can hire a car or scooter to get around Waiheke without breaking a sweat! Alternatively, you can take the bus around the Island. For those not venturing too far from Matiatia Bay, there are a several lovely walking tracks nearby and its just a 20-minute walk to the main town, Oneroa. If your a keen hiker, you can take the 2 hour Northern Walk loop (Matiatia, Owhanake and Oneroa) which takes in the Hauraki Gulf and then leads you inland to Oneroa where you can finish for a swim. You can also enjoy Waiheke’s beautiful coast from the water by hiring a kayak.
Waiheke has become a top wine-making region, attributed to the hot dry summers and ideal soil conditions so trying the local produce is a must. Waiheke Island is now often referred to as the ‘island of wine’ and with over 18 vineyards on the island, it would be a crime not to do a winery crawl. Most island maps will map all of the vineyards for you but pick carefully, all 18 might make it tricky to stay on that bike! Be sure to check the vineyard, wineries, restaurant and cafe opening times as these do change seasonally.
Cable Bay Vineyard
Words cannot describe the views from this place. Cable Bay Vineyard will blow you away with its modern sleek architecture, silver-service restaurant, terrace bar, incredible wine and magnificent views. This is a must but be warned… it is all too easy to get settled in here!
If your here in May and your up for it, why not give the Waiheke Half Marathon (presented by Cable Bay Vineyards) a crack? There is a 21km half marathon, 10km and 2km kids route which take you by stunning beaches, past vineyards and along quiet country roads, finishing at the spectacular Cable Bay Vineyards where you can celebrate your efforts with friends and family and probably a much needed glass of wine.
Onetangi beach stretches over 2 km, offering plenty of space for sun loungers, hungry picnickers, book lovers, dog strollers and frolicking children. This beach is safe for swimming but does often boast some quite large waves for the body surfers and boogie boarders. If you are here in February, you could have not timed your visit to Waiheke better. Onetangi Beach Races are held each year and is always a blast with tractor races, segway races, horse racing and the uniformed services race which sees the Fire Service, Police, St John’s and the Coastguard’s battle it out.
Take a trip to Tuscany by visiting Poderi Crisci, a top-rated family-owned vineyard and restaurant with Italian flair and a passion for traditional winemaking. Founded in 2008 by Antonio Crisci Poderi Crisci encompasses 7.7 hectares on a north facing slope of a sleepy valley at the end of Waiheke island. Poderi Crisci is all about serving fresh and fine island ingredients in deliciously robust, simple Italian dishes. The ravioli stuffed with braised beef and served with a delicious brown sage butter sauce is amazing.
If you’re more of an adventure junkie, Waiheke is not all about lying on the beach and drinking wine. The island offers an array of outdoor activities for adventurous types.
On the water, you can hire a kayak and go on a kayaking tour around Waiheke to isolated beaches, caves and rock channels. Or you might like to learn how to windsurf, paddle board or play on the water trampoline. We also recommend Explore’s Waiheke Sailing Experience which is a spectacular way to see the the Island (and you get 20% of with the Activity Discount Map). On land, you can go whizzing through the trees on a zip line and on flying foxes with Ecozip Adventures. Or if heights are not your thing, race down a hill with Waiheke Mountain Bike Club at Onetangi Sports Park. Alternatively, Waiheke Horse Tours offers horse treks with a few of our New Zealand movie stars… horses that starred in The Hobbit and The Last Samurai! Wild on Waiheke also offers a fun multi-day activity package including archery and laser clay-pigeon shooting.
Remember, it is best to book activities before you arrive on the island, just to be sure you wont miss out!