Located about 18km from Auckland, Waiheke Island is awash with artistic and cultural diversity. The 8,000 or so residents boast a wealth of artists, actors, writers, poets and musicians, and there is an element of eccentricity which gives the island its distinct flavour. With scenic beaches, swimming, kayaking, wind and kitesurfing, biking and an annual sandcastle contest; Wine and Jazz Festivals; walking tours, art tours, vineyard tours – there is plenty to do for people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Don’t just take our word for it though. In 2016, top travel guide The Lonely Planet voted Waiheke Island as one of the top 5 places to visit in 2016. Of all the places in the world. little old Waiheke Island was 5th on that list. A pretty impressive accolade for a destination that is growing in stature each and every year.
The wide range of accommodation on offer, to suit all styles and price ranges, will ensure that you find the right place to stay. From the relative ‘hustle and bustle’ of Oneroa, the biggest town on the island to the remote bays that litter the island, Waiheke is a place of discovery and ultimate relaxation. No matter what your budget is, try booking a bach for your stay – with over 450 available across the island, there’s something for everyone from the luxury to the basic.
Things to see and do
Wine Tasting on Waiheke
Waiheke Island is often referred to as the ‘island of wine’ and with over 30 vineyards on the islands, it’s easy to see why. Waiheke Island offers some of the best boutique cellar door wine tastings in New Zealand. Many of the vineyards on the island offer stunning views back over the Auckland skyline or out towards the Coromandel Peninsula. The island’s best export is Syrah (very similar to Shiraz) and it would be rude to leave without sampling a drop!
Some of the GO Rentals team’s favourite vineyards include Mudbrick, Cable Bay and Man-O-War (it’s a bit of a trek down a bumpy road to get there but we promise you it’s well worth the trip!)
An opportunity to meet the artists. Waiheke has a broad sphere of local artists, and the art trail will let you view and purchase their wares, as well as meeting the artists themselves. A bienneil Sculpture festival has become a prestigious national event.
This is a unique example of Tangata Whenua and Pākehā working together in partnership. Waiheke Island is rich in Maori history and you can sample and learn about it in this beautiful setting. There are also ancient Maori sites scattered around the island.
Stony Batter World War 2 battlements and Fortifications
Empty fortifications and gun placements can be seen at the Eastern edge of Waiheke. The extensive tunnel system is an interesting historical artifact, as is the more recent history surrounding the fortifications. Numerous disputes about access to the tunnels show that Stony Batter is a battlefield in more than one way! A Nuclear and GE free island, Waiheke was the first community in New Zealand to vote for a nuclear free zone, acting as the fore-runner for New Zealand’s groundbreaking nuclear free stand. Waiheke is also GE free by the choice of the locals.
Eco Zip Adventures
This is a pretty awesome way to spend a few hours. Head up to the top of the hill and ride the three flying fox ziplines that will whizz you through the native forest at a speed that’s enough to get the heart pumping. After all that adventure, you can sit down and watch all the other crazy people with a glass of wine in hand!
Getting to Waiheke Island
Ferry services run from Downtown Auckland to Waiheke daily, with Fullers offering a 35 minute service from downtown Auckland. Seacat has a vehicle service also; you can take your car across to get around in your own time. Airlines include Flight Hauraki and charter helicopter. The island has less infrastructure than mainland Auckland. The roads are mainly narrow and in many places unsealed and unlit, especially on the eastern half of the island.
Mercedes tours, vineyard tours, fishing trips, walking tours and rental bikes and cars give you plenty of options to look around while you’re visiting. Waiheke Bus Company covers most of the island, and links to ferry sailings. Or take your car across on the ferry and drive yourself around this Bohemian wonderland.
For more information on this popular holiday resort, visit Tourism Waiheke.