For those in Auckland for the day, Waiheke Island makes a great day trip for those eager to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. I recently visited thanks to Fullers, the main provider of ferry services to and from the island.
First on the list was Onetangi, this was recommended by a local bus driver as the best beach on the Island and didn’t disappoint. Beautiful even on a not so beautiful day, Onetangi screams kiwi beach with its white sands and deep blue waters. Check out the cafe Charley Farley’s for a taste of Waiheke’s famous wines, most are produced in the local vineyards, and the killer chicken quesadillas. Transport to Onetangi is easy from Matiatia Wharf (where the ferry lands), bus services run direct. You can pick up an all day bus pass from Fullers for $10.
A five minute-ish walk from Charley Farley’s is the Forest and Bird Reserve, The main gate is cunningly hidden on Waiheke Rd, take care not to walk past it. Part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Reserve, this 2 hour walking track allows visitors to get a glimpse into native New Zealand bush and the local flora and fauna that inhabit it. Keep an eye out for Tui, Fantails, Kereru and more. The signposts directing you through the bush leave much to be desired so allow plenty of time to get lost.
Hop back on the bus across the road from where you arrived in Onetangi and head toward Palm Beach. This beautiful beach makes for a well deserved rest on the way to Oneroa, the centre of life on Waiheke.
When you arrive in Oneroa, take a moment to just relax and wander around this lovely little town and check out the many Kiwiana shops that line the main street. Oneroa is also where you can uncover the more artistic side of the island and hosts a variety of galleries and art shops. Opt to complete the 3km Waiheke art walking trail, taking you down the main street of the town to the ferry terminal. Make sure to start with a caffeine hit from Double Shot Espresso, who make good coffee and even better anzac biscuits. Highlights of the trail include Toi Gallery (Contemporary art), Waiheke Library (Architecture), Alison Park (Sculptures) and my personal favorite, Waiheke Community Art Gallery.
This is a lovely little gallery and I was pleasantly surprised by both the quality of the gallery itself aswell as the artwork that it contained. This gallery even featuredin the New York Times book: 36 hours in Asia and Oceania, grab a copy from the gallery – it’s a great read.
Finally, take the walk back to Matiatia Wharf through Atawhai Whenua reserve, a 15-20 minute walk that pops out on the beach next to the ferry terminal and is a great alternative to catching the bus direct from Oneroa. You can find the entrance across the road from Alison Park near the main street. Say goodbye to Waiheke as you head back across the water to Auckland, making sure to check out the views of Rangitoto Island and the city on your approach.
All in all, Waiheke makes for a beautiful day trip from Auckland, as well as an idyllic holiday spot that I will be heading back to soon and encourage you to do the same.
Thanks again to Fullers for the complementary Ferry tickets and bus pass.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Fullers provide ferry services on a daily basis to and from the Island between early morning till dark. The ferries depart regularly from Pier 2 at ferry terminal located in Britomart, Auckland CBD. A return fare costs A$36/C$18 NZD. There is a variety of accommodation ranging from backpackers to luxury lodges on the Island for those wishing to extend their stay.