«Sorry, but there are no more tickets for Rangitoto Island, you’ll have to choose another island”, the lady at the ticket counter told us this Sunday morning. A little frustrated, we left the queue. Rangitoto has been on my bucket list for ages and for some reason I haven’t made it on there yet. And it seemed like this wasn’t going to be the day for Rangi, either.
Waiheke Island, here we come!
After thinking through our options, we decided to give Waiheke Island a go instead. There are far more ferries going to this popular island in the Hauraki Gulf. So we joined the queue again, bought the ferry tickets to Waiheke and joined the next queue.
The Fullers Waiheke ferry only takes 35 minutes but seems to bring you to a different world. As we arrive in Matiatia, we pass hills that are bright green, the sea is dark blue and calm and so is the sky. Waiheke’s ferry terminal reminded me of those mini-airports you see on tropical islands. The vibe of the island instantly takes over as you’re switching from stressed city life into a holiday-like-groove. I’m instantly loving it!
We first headed to the information desk, where we took all the brochures on walks and wine we could find, grabbed a timetable and jumped on the next bus that was just about to leave.
Getting around Waiheke is really easy. You can take your bike to the ferry for free or you can hire bikes (although I don't think that's such a hot idea), scooters and cars once you’re there. If you want to see Waiheke Island’s many wineries and taste , it’s probably best to go by bus. There, you have two options: either you take the Island Explorer, a hop-on / hop-off bus with commentary, or you take to local commuter bus. We decided on the last option.
Let's explore the island
Sitting in the bus, we tried to figure out where it was headed. Since we originally didn’t plan to go to Waiheke, I didn’t research like I usually would. We decided to get off in Palm Beach, mostly because the name appealed to us. Turned out it’s a lovely place that has all you look for in a beach: white sand, clear blue water to play around, some rocks to discover the local sea life at low tide and even some name-giving palms.
Enjoying the unexpected holiday feeling, we got the maps out to decide where we wanted to go next. A walking path named Te Ara Hura Track spans 100km all around the island, and we decided to walk just a little section of if, from Palm Beach to Onetangi Beach. It looked like there would be a winery along the way, which would be quite welcome for a wine tasting or two.
The walk took us from the beach up a hill with amazing views, through farmland, along some lesser travelled roads and fancy houses. No sight of all the people who have been on the packed ferry before. It looks like Waiheke is big enough to accommodate everyone. After a while, the path dropped us on to a street that connects to Onetangi Beach and overlooks a huge area of vineyards. A few hundred meters further down, we see the sign for the Obsidian Winery. We turn and walk down a path.
Waiheke Island Wineries Trail
The winery is small and quiet, and some tables and benches sit under big white sails. We ordered the wine tasting, which meant we were able to try 4 different wines for NZD 10 and because we bought a bottle, those 10$ got deducted again from the price.
While sitting and drinking our way through the tasting menu, we discovered people coming from the vineyards. After observing them for a while we asked where they’re coming from and, fancy that, there is an actual vineyard walk that connects Obsidian with the other wineries in the area! We decided to skip the beach and followed the wine trail instead.
Next one on our tour was Casita Miro, a Spanish themed winery. Which was awesome, as I had the feeling of being in Spain since arriving on the island! The winery is on a hill and has an awesome view over the ocean. The tapas in the restaurant looked very espanol (we didn’t try them, though) and the bar, where the tasting is located, looks just like Barcelona with its mosaic bar and decorations.
To reach the other wineries, we had to walk a little further. Which isn’t such a bad thing as it gives you time to sober up a little bit as you walk past the rich vines and olive trees. The path is extremely beautiful and gives you the feeling of being somewhere in Europe.
On the other side of the vineyard walk, there are three more wineries. But because it got quite late already, there was only time for one more. We decided to give Stonyridge a try.
The entry to the winery is stunning! We were welcomed by an overgrown house, and the terrace outside the restaurant is beautiful too. It felt very European. On the side they built a very stylish lounge bar with music and loungers. We took our wine glasses and positioned ourselves on a big cushion under the olive trees, overlooking the vineyards. Life is sweet!
We would’ve gone and tested some more wineries, but unfortunately, they all close at 5pm. Instead, we jumped on the next bus and looked for a nice restaurant in Oneroa, the Waiheke’s main beach. We found a lovely pub and shared a platter, while over looking the ocean.
The most beautiful sunsets happen on water
Having dinner on the island turned out to be a great decision, as we ended up taking the ferry that drove us directly into the sunset! It was absolutely breathtaking to watch as the sun slowly sunk behind Auckland’s skyline and drenched everything in orange and purple. Best ferry ride ever!
Waiheke Island Info
Getting there: There are two ferry companies from Auckland to Waiheke,
Fullers and Sealink. Fullers ferries go a lot more frequent and are
pedestrian ferries, while Sealink is a car ferry.
The ferry ride to Waiheke takes about 35 minutes
Getting around: There are countless options. Take your bike or hire one, walking,
hire a car, hire an e-scooter, take the bus or take the
Hop-on Hop-off Explorer
Wine tours Waiheke: The islands is most famous for wine, so it's no surprise there are
loads of wine tours. A perfect date is the twilight tour and if you
are looking for luxury, why not going by helicopter
Weather in Waiheke: The island lies in the Hauraki Gulf, which means it’s sheltered
from the open sea. It has a steadier climate than the mainland and
is dryer, similar to the Napa Valley. This makes it perfect for
The average temperature is between 19° and 25° C all year