Just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island has great beaches, some of New Zealand’s best boutique wineries, a number of art galleries, scenic walking trails, and acres of olive groves, making it the ideal getaway. The island’s calm waters—perfect for watersports like snorkeling, sea kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding—and the relaxed bohemian atmosphere in Oneroa Village draw a steady stream of visitors year-round.
Waiheke Island is most often visited on day tours from Auckland. The most popular experiences include food tours, wine tasting excursions, adventure tours—and simply spending time on one of the many sandy ocean beaches. Wine enthusiasts should choose a wine-tasting tour to visit some of the nearly 30 wineries, many of which have locavore restaurants attached and make for the perfect way to enjoy a vineyard lunch. Adventure and culture also abound, with ziplining, hiking, and eco tours available for exploring the island’s lush forests and nature preserves, plus ancient Maori terraces and cooking pits to be discovered on cultural bike tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Waiheke Island is an outdoor- and food-lover’s destination for travelers and locals alike.
- The island’s beaches are some of the safest and cleanest in the world, prime for swimming.
- Excellent restaurants and cafes dot the island, with many offering food that complements the local wines.
- Private tours offer travelers personal attention from a tour guide and the ability to customize their experience.
- Sunbathers can choose between popular Onetangi Beach, secluded Palm Beach, clothing-optional Little Palm Beach, and Blackpool Beach (popular among windsurfers).
How to Get There
Waiheke Island lies in the Hauraki Gulf, 13 miles (21.5 kilometers) from Auckland on New Zealand's North Island. Fullers Ferries provides fast transport from the downtown Auckland ferry terminal (35 minutes), and Sealink has car ferries from Half Moon Bay and Wynyard Quarter in Auckland (45 minutes). Waiheke tours offer one of the most convenient ways to travel from Auckland, although it’s easy to hail a taxi or find a bus on the island. Rental cars, bikes, and motorbikes are also available for rent.
When to Get There
Aucklanders flock to Waiheke in droves in summer (December to February), the best time to hit the beach. During the less crowded month of March, some wineries offer additional experiences like the chance to stomp grapes or sample special vintages in honor of harvest time. Each Saturday from 8:30am to 1pm, a popular art and farmers market pops up in Ostend.
Waiheke Island Wine Tasting
Island wine tours often feature expert guides, combine visits and tastings at several wineries and boutique vineyards into one excursion, and leave the driving up to someone else. Some popular stops include Mudbrick Vineyard, Cable Bay, Stonyridge, Jurassic Ridge, Batch, and Casita Miro. Winery tours highlight the production process and unique terroir of Waiheke Island wine, while offering the chance to try the delicious wines.