Beautiful Waiheke Island

Having spent most of my childhood in Auckland, I clearly remember the excitement of getting on the ferry to Waiheke Island. Although it’s only a short trip, I seem to remember it being an epic journey across oceans to the faraway island that was always so full of adventure and mystique. In my mind the ferry was a monstrous ship that I could never seem to completely explore, despite the seemingly endless hours it took to get there.

In reality Waiheke Island is only a 30 minute journey and the ferry only a very modest two-level boat that you could easily walk around in a few minutes. My imagination isn’t what it used to be. Everything is more fun when you’re a kid.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Waiheke Island with some friends and the one thing that hasn’t changed from my childhood experience was the excitement of getting on that ferry. Maybe it was the nostalgia, or the gorgeous Auckland day, or going on an adventure with new friends, or maybe because we were going to drink wine and beer in the sun. Probably all of the above.

Visiting Waiheke Island is a very popular activity for both Auckland locals and visitors. The amount of people packed onto the ferry that day was testament to what a fantastic place it is to see. There isn’t a lot on the island, but if you’re up for adventure and stunning scenery, you won’t be disappointed. One of the most popular activities to do on Waiheke, and my excuse for setting my alarm for 5.30am and driving from Mt Maunganui, is wine-tasting!

Landscape photo of Onetangi Beach, Waiheke Island, New ZealandOnetangi Beach

Getting Around

Getting around the island is pretty simple. Buses are regular and will take you to almost anywhere you need to go. Many of the wineries and vineyards are within walking distance of the main bus routes, so you can easily create your own wine-tasting itinerary and enjoy walking and exploring. Of course, there are also a number of companies offering wine tours if that’s more your style. If you prefer to be chauffeured around in an air-conditioned van you will be able to visit more vineyards in a day, and this option is great for those who aren’t up to the (often strenuous) walking, or just prefer not to arrive at a beautiful hilltop winery sweating like they’ve just run a marathon. There is also the option of renting bikes for the day, which seems like a great idea, but could make for an interested ride at the end of a day of drinking in the sun. Sun and wine are a great/dangerous combination. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Panoramic photo on a walking track around Waiheke Island, New ZealandOne of Waiheke’s many walking tracks

Wineries

We only made it to three wineries due to opting for the walking tour. We started at the beautiful Onetangi Beach for lunch, then walked to Obsidian, then on to Stony Ridge, and finally Wild On Waiheke. Obsidian’s wine was by far my favourite, although I don’t consider myself much of a wine connoisseur, so don’t judge me. For the overall experience, though, Wild On Waiheke would be very hard to beat.

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Wild is a brewery as well as a winery, in fact the only brewery on the island. Being a much bigger fan of beer than wine, I was sold immediately. Their beer was phenomenal! They offer beer and wine tasting, a restaurant, and they also have really fun activities like archery and clay-bird shooting, amongst other things, although I’m still trying to get my head around the health and safety considerations of mixing booze and firearms! Unfortunately we were running short of time so couldn’t try the food or activities, but I will definitely be heading back there very soon! We did, however, manage to fit in a round of Cards Against Humanity, which was suitably offensive and helped to clear the bar of all the other visitors! Lucky they were closing anyway 😉

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We just made it onto the very full bus and spent the last few hours of sunlight drinking the day’s purchases and swimming at Oneroa Beach. I was glad to see the sun go down after a long hot day, and I managed to grab this shot of the sunset despite all the wine and beer in my system, not to mention very cleverly leaving my tripod in my car in Auckland.

Landscape photo of sunset over boats on Waiheke Island, New ZealandSunset over Waiheke Island

All in all it was a fantastic experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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