Waiheke Island is the third most populous island of New Zealand (after the North and South Islands), with 9200 permanent residents, 2000 of whom commute to Auckland each work day. In summer the population swells dramatically, as the island is a popular destination for both overseas travellers and New Zealanders. The microclimate is well suited for winemaking and the island has over two dozen vineyards. Olives are well established and some extremely nice olive oils are produced. Waiheke is administered by the Auckland Council.
- 1 Visitor Information Centre, 118E Oceanview Rd, Oneroa, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 9AM-5PM. There is also a centre on Matiatia Wharf.
Fullers passenger ferries (phone +64 9 367 9111) run from downtown Auckland to 1 Matiatia on Waiheke Island, taking 40 minutes, hourly or more frequently between 6AM and 7:15PM and less frequently at night. Last departures from Waiheke are at 12:30AM M-Sa and 10:15PM Su. Ferries leave Auckland from Pier 2 ferry terminal, near the corner of Quay St and Albert St. Fullers buses and the hop-on-hop-off bus depart from Matiatia, and taxis and hire cars are available there. Return fares are adult $36, child (5-15 years or high school ID) $18, seniors with a Supergold card are free - family passes are available. The AT Journey Planner covers the Fullers ferries and Waiheke buses.
360 Discovery ferry stops at Orapiu on Waiheke at weekends on its return trips from Auckland to Coromandel. It departs Pier 4, downtown Auckland, Sa, Su and public holidays (except 25 Dec) at 8:45AM. Return trips depart Hannafords Wharf, Coromandel Harbour, at 4:30PM. Orapiu is on the south-eastern tip of the island, well away from the island's main residential region, and there is no public land transport. Auckland-Orapiu adult $25 one way, $41 return.
Sealink (phone +64 9 300 5900) operate a passenger/vehicle ferry service from Half Moon Bay in eastern Auckland to Kennedy Point on Waiheke, taking 45–60 minutes. Transfers are available from Kennedy Point. Standard return fares are adult $36.50, child $20, senior/student $31, car $170 and there are different family passes. Check their website for "hot deals" - sometimes two people with a car only have to pay for the car. Cheaper fares are also available with 10-trip tickets or with day return passes.
Waiheke Ferries lists sailing times for all ferry providers scheduled to and from Waiheke Island for the current day. These timetables are great to use for a day trip or if you are unsure when the next few ferries are going from a particular wharf.
- Helilink makes charter helicopter flights to Waiheke.
- Flight Hauraki operates flights from Auckland (Ardmore) and Great Barrier Island.
By public transport
Waiheke Bus Company. These Fullers-owned buses run around the main populated areas between Matiatia Wharf and Onetangi and Rocky Bay. They do not cover Kennedy Point, Orapiu or Stony Batter. All-day passes are available from Matiatia Wharf or can be bought with your ferry ticket from Auckland (but not before 9AM on weekdays). Day passes are not sold on the bus, but bus fares are reasonable. There are multiple taxi and shuttle services.
Waiheke Explorer Hop-on Hop-off tour bus. You can just stay on these Fullers-owned buses and have a 1½ hour tour of the island, or hop on and off as often as you want at any of 15 stops, which include vineyards, beaches and restaurants. Adult $55, child $30.
By personal vehicles
Cars, scooters and bicycles can be hired near the Matiatia ferry terminal, or you can bring bicycles on any of the passenger ferries.
- Waiheke Rental Cars, Matiatia Wharf. From $89 per day.
Hitchhiking is commonplace with locals and visitors. There are few destinations and distances are relatively short, which increases the chances of a driver stopping for hitchers.
- 1 Waiheke Island Historic Village, 165 Onetangi Straight, Onetangi (the Onetangi bus, number 1, stops here – just ask the driver to stop), ☎ . Open year round Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays if they are public holidays, noon–4PM. Visit the woolshed museum and a 1930s restored cottage. There is also a photographic gallery and a textile display area. Admission is by donation ($3).
- 2 Stony Batter. 9:30AM-3:30PM. World War II gun emplacements and tunnels. Located at the eastern end of the island. There is a 1.2 km (20 minute) walk from the carpark. Tunnel entry $5 per person, $15 per family; double those prices for a guided tour.
- Fullers Waiheke Island Explorer Tour. a one hour 30 minute bus tour and commentary, twice a day in conjunction with ferry trips from Auckland. The tours start on arrival of the 10AM and noon sailings from Auckland. Bookings are essential. Fares include return ferry trip, the bus tour and an all-day bus pass for the regular bus services. Adult $55, child $27.50, under 5s free..
- Fullers Taste of Waiheke Tour. tastings at 3 vineyards and a light lunch. Ferry leaves Auckland at 11AM. Days vary with time of year. Waiheke Island produces some of New Zealand’s finest red wines which thrive in the hot, dry summers and stony soils. The vineyards are not large and wines are produced in limited quantities. Fare include return ferry trip, the tour and an all-day bus pass for the regular bus services. Adult $135, not suitable for children..
- 1 Whittaker's Music Museum, 2 Korora Road, Oneroa, ☎ . Daily 13:00-16:00 90-minute live performance at 13:30 on some Sat.. Collection of accordions, pianos, organs and the like. Learn their history and the period they were made for. donation.
- Waiheke Island Jazz Festival. Takes place over the Easter weekend.
- Try deep sea fishing with Fat Snapper Fishing Charters, 21 Waiheke Road, Onetangi, +64 9 372-8755 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Full or half day deep sea fishing. Includes all equipment (rods, reels & bait). Half day charter $80 per person. Minimum charge $200.
- Go walking round the island's tracks and bush reserves. Including roadside tracks there are some 100km of walks on the island. Pick up a copy of the guides locally.
The northern side of Waiheke is known for its relatively uncrowded white sand beaches, while the southern side beaches are quite tidal and swimming is dependent on the tides.
- 2 Oneroa Beach. The main beach, located along the northern side of the town of Oneroa.
- 3 Little Oneroa Beach. A small secluded beach at the east end of Oneroa Beach, separated by a protruding cliff wall.
- 4 Palm Beach. Similar in shape to Oneroa Beach (complete with protruding cliff wall on the east end that separates a small private beach in Boatshed Bay), it gets its name from the mature phoenix palms at the east end.
- 5 Little Palm Beach. A small clothes-optional beach at the west end of Palm Beach.
- 6 Blackpool Beach. The south-facing counterpart of Oneroa Beach, lining Blackpool and popular for kayaking and windsurfing.
- 7 Surfdale Beach. A zoned-in beach on the southern side of Surfdale, separated from Blackpool Beach by a small, protruding peninsula, which has a scenic unsealed route called The Esplanade linking the beaches. Popular for kitesurfing.
- 8 Onetangi Beach. A 1.9 km long, north-facing beach lining Onetangi. For many years it has been the site of the Onetangi Beach Races. Its western (and often inaccessible end at high tide) is clothes-optional.
- 9 Cactus Bay. Considered by many Waihekeans as the island's most perfect beach and, with nearby Garden Cove, a romantic place for picnicking. The beach is accessible only by boat or kayak, as its land access was blocked off by a private landowner.
Oneroa has the main shopping street with a post office, two banks, a chemist, a greengrocer, a wine shop, a small supermarket, real estate agents and some clothes and souvenir shops. Ostend has a full sized supermarket, with a Placemakers next door if are looking for a bag of cement.
- 2 Four Square Supermarket, 151 Ocean View Road, Oneroa. Mon - Sun, 7:30am - 8:30pm. four aisle supermarket
- Ajadz, Oneroa Arts complex. Basic Indian, eat-in or takeaway.
Waiheke wine are premium brands, with bottles starting around $25 in the supermarket, and many costing a few times more.
- Molly Malones, Miami Ave, Surfdale. Irish styled pub with reasonably priced beers including of course Guinness on tap. Nice food as well - particularly the Guinness Pie. Outside seating and pool table. Good place to watch the rugby or listen to live music on the weekends.
- Take a ferry back to Auckland.
- Head out to Great Barrier Island for a more remote experience.
- Catch the weekend and holiday ferry to Coromandel town.