Why you should not ride a bike on Waiheke Island

Over Easter this year, we decided to give the infamous holiday traffic a miss and stay in Auckland over the long weekend. Instead, we left our cars at home, grabbed our bikes and camping gear and jumped onto the ferry Auckland to Waiheke Island. I thought, since there are so many Waiheke Island bike hire, it would be a biker’s paradise on the island. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong!

Here are some reasons, why you should never take a bike to Waiheke Island, unless you are a biking pro, of course.

Waiheke Island is very hilly

To be fair to the island, I did know from previous visits that there are many hills. What I never realized, though, was how steep they are! When you visit the wineries on Waiheke on a day trip, you usually either take the regular bus or the Hop-on/Hop-off Explorer and don’t really care about how steep it is. However, when riding the bike, the hills feel like little Everests. Don’t expect to get from A to B quickly, even if it looks close on the map.

Breathtaking view require breathtaking climbs

Breathtaking view require breathtaking climbs

Taking buses with bikes are a game of luck

You might have made it from Matiatia ferry terminal all the way to Onetangi Beach with your bike. But the thought of riding back via on the ups and downs creeps the hell out of your already sore muscles. Good thing every local bus on Waiheke is equipped with a bike rack in the front of the car, they will take you back to Fullers Ferry. Well, maybe they do. Even though every bus can fit 3 bikes on their rack, it takes a bit of luck to find a driver who’s willing to take you and your bike. The fact that it takes a while to load the bikes on the racks and the roads that are narrow with a lot of traffic causes many bus drivers to refuse your bike and you might end up having to wait for the next bus and try your luck there.
And don’t even think about getting a bus once it’s getting dark. No bikes allowed on the racks of Waiheke bus company at night because they obstruct the head lights. Guess when I found out about this rule. 😉

Bikes on buses on Waiheke. We were lucky this time

Bikes on buses on Waiheke. We were lucky this time

Riding a bike on Waiheke Island is dangerous!

There are almost no bike trails on Waiheke Island. Which means that most of the riding is on street or on small paths right next to the street. Most roads are very narrow and winding and there is surprisingly much traffic for an island. Buses, big cars with boats in tow, camper vans. Now imagine yourself on a bike, slowly climbing a hill. You have no chance of jumping to safety when they come racing around the corner! We did have a few near-misses and Chris once got a huge fright when a bus honked behind him and overtook extremely closely to us.

The other reason why riding a bike on Waiheke is dangerous are the drink-drivers. There are about 20 wineries on the island, and they all offer wine tastings. It’s extremely tempting to drive from one winery to the next to be more independent compared to the people on buses. Now combine drink-driving with narrow, winding roads and a slow bike around the corner…


We will think twice about taking our bikes to Waiheke Island next time. While bringing your bike to Waiheke by ferry is free of charge (both at Fullers and Sealink), it really isn’t a biker’s heaven. However, we will most likely give the island another try when we are going to explore the lesser known eastern part. But the car will come with us, too, next time we do bring the bikes

Alternatives to cycling on Waiheke

Of course, there are always the buses to get around Waiheke Island and personally, they are my favorite way of transport on the island. If you want to be more independent, thought, feel like pedaling at least a little bit and don’t mind the narrow roads so much, why not hire an e-bike? There is also a scooter hire Waiheke and you could also rent a car. Or, alternatively, just use your own two feet and explore one of the amazing walks on Waiheke. There are so many options to choose from.

Cascades falls on Nikau Track, one of the many walking tracks on Waiheke

Cascades falls on Nikau Track, one of the many walking tracks on Waiheke

Did you ever explore Waiheke on a bike? How was your experience? Leave a comment below!