Waiheke Island is a real gem in the Hauraki; it’s a spot that’s becoming increasingly popular on tourists’ itineraries and is loved by locals too. It makes a great day trip from Auckland and many New Zealanders have holiday homes there, to accompany the 8,730 permanent residents during the summer months. It’s a beautiful island with stunning beaches and feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Auckland. But, it’s most well-known for its wine. With over 25 vineyards on the island, there’s a lot of choice!
A couple of weeks ago I turned 23 and, whilst I was at work on my actual birthday, I wanted to do something a bit special to celebrate. Because we had heard so many positive things about it from travellers and locals alike, James and I decided to spend a day on Waiheke Island, an island located in the Hauraki Gulf just off the coast of Auckland. Note: it’s pronounced “why-heck-ee”!
We didn’t have a map, so spent our morning was spent walking from the port in Matiatia Bay towards Oneroa village where we admired the beautiful views of Oneroa bay, before continuing up the coastal track to Hekerua Bay and Sandy Bay. These were the most stunning views of the day; the sky was clear, the air was silent and the boats were bobbing along in the water.
After lunch, we followed the sign to the wineries and passed the vineyards, stopping at Cable Bay, the first winery along Church Bay Road. The grapes we had seen growing outdoors were the same ones used in our drinks, and they are even pressed traditionally by walking on them. A wine tasting session of five different wines (2 white and 3 red) cost just $10 which was incredibly reasonable considering each tasting was just under half a glass! The wines were delicious, and although we didn’t buy a bottle, we sat in the Verandah and admired the stunning views.
We continued up the road and saw the Mudbrick and Jurassic Ridge vineyards but decided against anymore wine tasting (partly to save money and partly because I was feeling a little too tipsy… I’m a lightweight!)
You can view a whole list of the wineries on Waiheke Island on the Waiheke Wine website.
After all that wine, you’ll probably want something to eat – and although it’s a small island, Waiheke has a lot of choice. Seafood is a particularly big speciality.
We had lunch at the Local, a small, relaxed restaurant that overlooks Oneroa Bay, where we sat in the sun and were entertained by the owners’ parrot! I had the most amazing veggie burger and kumara fries. We were pleased to find it was really cheap!
I also recommend the Spice Café for a hot drink and chocolate brownie if you need to we escape the rain like we did!
From the ferry building in Auckland, there are many ticket options available from Fullers, the ferry operator. A return ferry ticket costs $36 for adults, a return ferry ticket plus all day bus pass costs $45, and there are many other combination ferry + vineyard tour / zip line / island tour options available. We chose the standard return ticket, though in hindsight I would choose the ferry + bus pass ticket since Waiheke is quite a big island!
Although we didn’t stay the night on Waiheke Island (it didn’t make sense as we live in Auckland!), there are a range of places to stay if you’d like to linger a little longer.
Visiting Waiheke has been a highlight of my time in New Zealand so far. Home to delicious, world-renowned wines and only a 40 minute ferry journey from the mainland, Waiheke is an absolute must-do for anyone passing through Auckland on their travels.
Thanks for reading,
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