A Day Trip to Waiheke Island

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It was about halfway through the ferry ride that I realized I was in trouble. Even though this was my fourth trip to New Zealand, it'd been a few years — and I had forgotten how unrelenting the sun was, with barely any ozone layer to soften its rays.

I was going to get a sunburn.

Auckland, New Zealand

But, somehow, I didn't care. The turquoise waters, fluffy white clouds, and sails unfurling in the wind kept me on the outside deck of the Fuller's ferry from Auckland. I was headed to Waiheke Island, and the idea of sunburn was less and less concerning to me the closer we got to our destination.

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

I'm ashamed to say that, even though I'd heard people rave about Waiheke Island plenty before, it took me four trips to New Zealand to finally make it out there. Shame, shame on me. Because this place is incredible.

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Located just over 10 miles from downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island is a popular day or weekend trip from the city — and I can definitely attest to this, judging by how full the ferries were on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

After a smooth 40-minute ride, I caught a bus from the ferry landing into the little town of Oneroa. A quick trip to the beach had me nearly convinced to just spend the day in one spot with a cold drink and my Kindle, but the adventurer in me wanted to see more of this island I'd heard so much about.

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Oneroa Beach, Waiheke Island

Fifteen minutes of searching and forty dollars later, I had my plan: an electric bike that would be perfect for tackling Waiheke Island's hills.

The island is small, but not so small that you can walk all of it. You really need a vehicle of some sort, and I was very happy with my semi-motorized choice.

Electric bike on Waiheke Island

I headed first out to Blackpool, a small village on Huruhi Bay. I rode along the Esplanade (partially an unpaved track), stopping every 2 minutes or so to snap photos of the turquoise water. New Zealand definitely has a distinctive color to its water.

The Esplanade on Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

From there, I rode through Surfdale, crossing the island and heading in the direction of Palm Beach. I hit some killer hills, though, and my bike struggled. Poor bike. To prevent myself from sweating into a puddle trying to ride up those hills, I soon turned around and headed back toward Oneroa.

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

But I wasn't quite ready to be done with my exploring. So I followed the road (and then the signs) for Cable Bay, a popular winery with killer views back out toward the mainland. I don't drink wine (or much other alcohol, for that matter), but I happily enjoyed a Coke and an order of shoestring fries while enjoying the views.

Vineyards on Waiheke Island

Cable Bay Winery, Waiheke Island

All told, my adventure lasted about 6 hours from ferry dock to ferry dock. And, I must say: everyone was right. Waiheke Island IS definitely a must-do in New Zealand!


Getting there: There are a few ferry companies that operate now between Auckland and Waiheke Island. I took Fuller's ($36 NZD return), but you can also go with SeaLink or Explore.

Once there: You can book bus tours of the island if you want a guided go-round (these usually come with free bus passes good for the whole day), or you can do what I did and explore on your own. You can rent cars, bikes (electric and regular), and even scooters. I paid $40 to rent an electric bike for half a day, which I picked up in Oneroa.

Where to stay: I only went to Waiheke Island for half a day, but you can stay overnight if you want to make a weekend of it. For a luxury experience, go for the Delamore Lodge. For a more budget-friendly options, check out the Kiwi House Waiheke.

Does Waiheke sound like a place that would make your NZ itinerary?


Day Trip to Waiheke Island from Auckland, New Zealand


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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29 Comments on “A Day Trip to Waiheke Island

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  1. It looks awesome! I hope I can swing by Waiheke Island when I visit NZ this year. Thank you for sharing this post to me. I’ll surely come back and share my own NZ travel experience.

      If you get the chance, I highly recommend it! Especially on a nice day, Waiheke makes for a fantastic afternoon trip from Auckland!

    Look at those incredible views! The water looks like a crystal clear blue and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Can’t wait to see New Zealand.

      New Zealand has so many incredible spots like this!

    wow!! I can see why you didn’t care about the bit of sunburn 😉 looks amazing! Thanks for sharing all those scenic photos 🙂

      Yeah it was pretty gorgeous!

    YAY! I’m so glad the weather was good for you – Auckland is miserable when it’s raining (and imagine the ferry over would be awful) but hard to beat on a sunny day.

      Yes, I lucked out and had beautiful weather while in Auckland! I don’t think I would have bothered with this trip if it had been raining – it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun on a bike!

    We went for a day with a freind of a freind and her colleague (as you do when you are travelling) and had a fab time. We hired a car there (think Russian Mafia Car with real Walnut dashboad and no suspension) and toured for the day. Picked up food from probably the only store on the island and made for the beach. Then the winerys. What a fantastic day! The Aussies apparently say that NZ is 2 hours ahead and 10 years behind, well this island is about 50 years behind, and that is not a bad thing.

      Not a bad thing at all – in fact, that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much, I think!

    NZ is the absolute first player on my bucket list, unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to get there… I totally fell in love with that country and your pics have made my feeling much intensive, I want to get there now! I think a lot of us would leave their jobs for a new life in that paradise land…

      It certainly is a destination worthy of any bucket list. I hope you make it here someday!

    Thank you.. I enjoy reading your stories. NZ is my future plan. I know I will love that country

      It’s a hard place to NOT fall in love with!

    It’s so picturesque here! Like a little secluded mini-earth from the real thing… the concept reminds me a little bit of Mackinac Island, which I also love.

      It was gorrrrgeous – and very New Zealand!

    Looks so beautiful! I’m so jealous that you’ve been to NZ FOUR TIMES! I’ve already been to Aus to going back in that general direction isn’t a high priority for me right now, but someday!

      What can I say? I left my heart in New Zealand, and it just keeps pulling me back!

    But the big question…how sunburned did you end up getting on this journey?? 🙂

      Haha not that bad. Just a bit red on my nose and cheeks, but it didn’t really hurt or anything!

    I am going to live on Waiheke Island one day, in a treehouse (seriously). If you get a chance to go back again, go for the weekend and take over a car. It is definitely hard to get around the island without one as buses only stop in a few places 🙂

      I totally support this treehouse living on Waiheke Island idea! That sounds great!

    4 trips to New Zealand, thats pretty good! I live in Australia and have only ever been the once. Though I do think NZ is worth a return trip or two. The little island looks like the perfect picnic get away

      What can I say – I love New Zealand!

    I LOVE Waiheke! I’ve spent a bit of time there over the years, and it keeps calling my name – it’s so close to Auckland but feels like a world away, bliss!
    Enjoy NZ!
    – Petra

      Yes, it definitely does feel world away from Auckland! Probably why I enjoyed it so much. 🙂

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