Anyone who stays in Auckland would have heard of the beautiful Waiheke Island. Nestled just over half an hour away lies an island so uniquely distinctive from Auckland’s usual things to see and do.
Most people come here for a day tour, but you have the option to do an overnight stay here.
Recommended duration in Waiheke Island: 1 day
- How to get to Waiheke Island, New Zealand
- What To See & Do in Waiheke Island, New Zealand
- Getting Around Waiheke Island, New Zealand
- Where to Stay in Waiheke Island
- What To Eat in Waiheke Island, New Zealand
How to get to Waiheke Island, New Zealand
The only way Waiheke Island from Auckland is by ferry.
The cost of the ferries by Fullers Ferries from Auckland to Waiheke are as such:
- NZD 38 (USD 27.40) 2-way (adults)
- NZD 24 (USD 17.30) 1-way (adults)
- NZD 20 (USD 14.50) 2-way (children)
- NZD 12 (USD 8.70) 1-way (children)
The Auckland to Waiheke ferry takes about 35 minutes in total but do allow some buffer time as sometimes the ferry stops over at Devonport first before going back to Auckland.
What To See & Do in Waiheke Island, New Zealand
1. Waiheke Island Wine Tours
Stunningly, there are 32 vineyards on the island, with some being award-winning ones. That’s a lot for an island! As such, it’s hard to tell you what the best wineries on Waiheke Island are.
If you want a holistic wine-tasting experience at Waiheke Island, I’d highly recommend you to sign up for wine-tasting tours and visit these famous Waiheke Island wineries!
Some of the most popular Waiheke Island wine tasting tours include Waiheke Island Wine Tours, Ananda Tours and Waivino Wine Tours.
If you prefer more flexibility or a budget-friendly option, you can go for impromptu wine tasting sessions at some of the best vineyards, like I did. Just be sure to check on their operating hours first! Many vineyards close early at around 5pm.
I was fortunate that I still had time to do a short wine tasting at Stonyridge Vineyard. It was beautiful from the moment we entered, seeing how the buildings around were covered in green vines and people buzzing in and out. The best part was the view; you can have lunch here too facing their gigantic vineyard in the distance.
Wine tasting here costs approximately NZD 5/ USD 3.70 for 3 variation of wines.
Another popular vineyard, which was sadly closed when I went prior because of the Christmas period, was Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant. Explore what’s on the island and drop by!
2. Explore the beaches
There are so many beaches here from Oneroa beach to Onetangi beach and many many more! And yes, my favourite was definitely Onetangi beach. Spanning over 1.87km, it was one of the biggest beaches I’ve been to.
I brought my picnic mat, and after finding a shaded area under a tree, I sat down at Onetangi beach and just enjoyed a quick rest.
There’s no way you should miss this too, even if it’s for a quick 10 minutes. Have a look and be mesmerised.
3. Go shopping
There are lines of shops close to the ferry terminal at Oneroa selling cute Kiwiana (an endearing term for local Kiwi items) souvenirs, clothes, food and more. Prices may be a little steep since it’s a tourist island, but who knows, you might find something uniquely New Zealand.
If you’re planning to stay here for more than a night, there’s a supermarket called 4 Square here too in case you need quick, convenient supplies.
4. Hiking through the trails
If you’re here for a short day tour, there are 3 possible routes for you to choose from that are close to the ferry terminal – the Northern Walk route, the Southern Walk route or the Oneroa to Blackpool Walk route.
The more popular route is the Northern Walk route, which covers Oneroa, Owhanake and Matiatia (where the ferry terminal is). This is especially recommended for those with limited time and yet want to get a good view of the island and the surrounding regions (like Hauraki Gulf).
With so many trails to choose from, all you need to do is just pick one to match your fitness level!
5. Zipline with Eco ZipLine
I didn’t know how well-known this was here until I reached the ferry terminal. You usually have to book your slots in advance, otherwise you may not be guaranteed a spot to zipline on the actual day.
There are a couple of ziplines available for you to choose from, starting from a massive 200m route. If you want more details, have a look here.
6. Sign up for tours!
And if you’re clueless about what to do here or where to begin with, don’t pound your head too hard; just sign up for a tour and let them show you around Waiheke Island.
There are many options to choose from. I was given the opportunity to try the hop on hop off bus by Fullers Ferries:
Waiheke Island Explorer Hop On Hop Off bus
Purchasing tickets from Fullers Ferries and is a real time-saver. Since the vineyards and Waiheke Island attractions are quite sporadically spaced, I’d have to walk almost the entire day had I not have any transport.
With the hop on hop off option, I could more quickly get to the destinations I want, hop down for some wine sampling, then hop back up again.
Ranging from award-winning vineyards and cellar doors to smaller towns filled with good food and beaches, the bus service helped me get a good overview of Waiheke Island.
- All-year round except for Christmas Day and ANZAC Day
- Buses depart every 30 minutes starting from 09:45 at Matiatia Wharf and ends at 19:30
- Adult (1-day pass): NZD 60
- Adult (2-day pass): NZD 90
- Child (1-day pass): NZD 30
- Child (2-day pass): NZD 45
Other tours, ranging from half-day bicycle tours (such as the famous Maori Cultural Bike Tour) to segway tours (offered by Segwai), give you a beautiful view of Waiheke Island that you won’t ever forget.
Getting Around Waiheke Island, New Zealand
There will be plenty of buses available for you to ride, covering most of the popular places you would want to go, from Onetangi beach to Southern Rocky Bay.
I frequently saw these buses driving past me as I walk down the streets, so I’d say the bus interval is pretty good! If you want more information, have a look at options like Waiheke Bus Service that offers day passes at a more affordable rate.
Needless to say, due to the sheer size of the town, there’ll be plenty of bicycle rental companies, be it in Auckland or on Waiheke Island offering half-day or full-day bike rentals.
They’re pretty efficient to have around and there aren’t that many cars on the road, so you can scoot to your destinations in a snap.
In fact, I was told that Waiheke Island is pretty big at 92km2 in size (that’s 9.2 times the size of Singapore’s Pulau Ubin!)
Having a car here would be really good for you to explore the untouched, less touristy parts of the island. There is a wide range of car rental companies here, such as Europcar.
I won’t recommend it at all because Waiheke Island is really huge (no joke!) but walking from point to point within a region is still alright.
Where to Stay in Waiheke Island
It’s possible to enjoy the beautiful island without breaking the bank! While I spent a day trip in Waiheke Island, you can still enjoy a 3D2N stay on the island in comfort.
If you want to pamper yourself and relax the best way possible on the island, there are plenty of options here.
- Breakfast on the Beach Lodge, starting from NZD 576 (USD 419.20)
- Te Whau Lodge, starting from NZD 482 (USD 350.80)
- Marino Ridge, starting from NZD 581 (USD 422.85)
Now if you don’t mind spending a little more to enjoy the island, rejoice! Bring your partner or your family and spend a great 3D2N holiday at Waiheke Island and see more of the huge island.
- Watermark Holiday Studios, starting from NZD 178 (USD 129.55)
- The Dome House – Waiheke Island, starting from NZD 206 (USD 149.95)
- Onetangi Beach Apartments, starting from NZD 171 (USD 124.50)
Here are some of the best affordable accommodations on the island that cost less than NZD 150 (USD 109.60) for 2 people, which I’ve gathered from my good friends!
- Koi Roc, starting from NZD 138 (USD 100.60)
- The Courtyard Oneroa, starting from NZD 117 (USD 85.30)
- Waiheke Island Motel, starting from NZD 146 (USD 106.30)
What To Eat in Waiheke Island, New Zealand
There is literally a lot of food to eat here – you just need to choose! From oysters to Asian delicacies and beyond, it’s like you never left Auckland Central.
Oysters were my favourite here! This island, due to its close proximity to the waters, is known for them and several restaurants serve tasty oysters in abundance. A popular place where you can find oysters is none other than the famous The Oyster Inn (yums!)
Address: 124 Ocean View Road, Oneroa, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Charley Farley’s is a beachfront restaurant that serves great meals all day long. Dig in and have a meal overlooking Onetangi beach. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Address: 21 The Strand, Onetangi, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Another popular beachfront restaurant that serves hearty meals and fantastic ambience is The Boathouse Cafe & Bar. You can have a meal outdoors and enjoy the cool breeze as you eat the delicious seafood platters and more!
Address: 1 Fourth Ave, Onetangi, Waiheke Island 1081, New Zealand
4. Delight Cafe
Get your afternoon post-lunch fix with a snack at this cafe. There’s a Turkish twist to all of the dishes here that’s certainly proved popular.
Address: 29 Waikare Rd, Oneroa, Waiheke Island 1081, New Zealand
This fine restaurant, secluded from much of Waiheke Island, serves up such good food for everyone. I’m not kidding – prices might be pretty high but you can’t argue the quality of the meals.
Address: 76 Onetangi Road, Onetangi 1971, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
6. Too Fat Buns
Get the best burgers in town. Surprisingly, there are no fast food restaurants on Waiheke Island, so this is your next best choice – and they’re really good!
Address: 4/118 Oceanview Rd, Oneora, Waiheke Island 1081, New Zealand
Can you imagine a better way to spend a day at the beach? How about a day on the beach with pizzas?! Dragonfired pizzas are so yummy and delicious. And the best part – it’s so affordable!
Address: 1 Goodwin Ave, Oneroa, Auckland 1081, New Zealand
What’s your favourite island memory? 🙂