Waiheke (pronounced why-hee-kee) Island is known around the world for its picturesque wineries and beautiful beaches. It is located in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf just a 40 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. A Waiheke Island day trip is a must when visiting Auckland. The island gained extra attention in 2015 when it was voted the 4th best island in the world in a poll conducted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine.

Waiheke has over 30 vineyards, many of which provide wine tastings and serve food. It’s worth noting that most of the wineries do charge a small fee for tastings, unlike those in many parts of Australia. 2 of the wineries, Wild on Waiheke and Tantalus, also contain microbreweries.


Getting there from Auckland

The best option is to get the Fullers ferry from Auckland’s Downtown Ferry Terminal (located here) to Matiatia on Waiheke Island. The return ferry costs NZ$36, but can be combined with the Explorer hop-on hop-off bus for NZ$55. The journey takes about 40 minutes and there are some great views of Auckland’s CBD as well as some of the other islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

The ferries leave every half an hour starting at 6am on weekdays and finishing at 12:30am. On weekends they start later (7am on Saturdays, 8am on Sundays) and have a slightly lower frequency. The ferry timetable can be found on the Fullers website.

The ferry in Matiatia, Waiheke Island

How to get around the island

The Explorer hop-on hop-off bus is a good option as it goes from the ferry to Onetangi on the other side of the island and back, stopping at numerous wineries and the beach towns of Oneroa and Onetangi. As mentioned above, the combined price of the ferry and bus ticket is NZ$55. The buses run from roughly 10am until 6pm. The buses are every half an hour (or every hour in winter) and have well-marked stops and helpful onboard guides with a very good knowledge of the island. Even if you decide not to get on the hop-on hop-off bus, make sure to pick up one of their maps as it has good information on wineries and other attractions around the island.

Waiheke's hop-on hop-off bus

Hitchhiking is also extremely easy on Waiheke. It is reasonably common among locals and visitors. We hitchhiked part of the way around the island as we were there in winter and the buses were only every hour. Most people on the island are very friendly and one person who picked us up even joined us for a drink at one of the wineries.

Mountain bikes can be rented from Waiheke Bike Hire near where the ferry arrives. They cost NZ$35 per day. Electric bikes can be rented from eCyclesNZ in Oneroa for NZ$60 a day.

Cars can be hired from Waiheke Rental Cars near where the ferry arrives, starting at about NZ$90 a day. A car is probably unnecessary though, as the bus covers everywhere that most people will want to visit.

Walking is an option if you don’t plan to go too far and intend to stay in the west of the island. There are scenic walking trails along the coast. Three vineyards and the main town of Oneroa are also within easy walking distance from where the ferry arrives in Matiatia.

Walking tracks sign in Matiatia, Waiheke Island

Awesome beaches

Oneroa is the small reasonably quiet main town on Waiheke. It has some shops and cafes. The town is perched above a beautiful beach which can be accessed by some steep paths. Oneroa is about a 25-minute walk from the ferry.

Oneroa beach, Waiheke Island Oneroa beach, Waiheke Island

Onetangi is on the other side of the island. The village is smaller than Oneroa and because of that I think the 1.9 kilometre-long beach has a nicer, more remote feel to it.

Onetangi beach, Waiheke Island Onetangi beach, Waiheke Island

Some wineries worth visiting

There are so many wineries on the island, all with their own charm. Deciding which ones to discover is part of the fun. Here are just two that we enjoyed.

Wild On Waiheke

The outdoor seating area surrounded by vines is a nice place to relax and try some of their wine or some of their craft beers, especially on a sunny day. If you are feeling more adventurous, they also have  archery and laser claybird shooting. The archery costs NZ$30 per person and the combination of the two costs $60 per person. If you’re here for the craft beers, make sure to also check out Tantalus, a little further along the road on the same side.

Archery at Wild On Waiheke

Cable Bay Vineyard

Cable Bay is the perfect place to watch the sun set over Auckland before going back to the ferry. It is connected to Matiata, where the ferry leaves from, by the road and also by a walking path.

Cable Bay Vineyard, Waiheke Island Cable Bay Vineyard, Waiheke Island A view of Auckland from Cable Bay Vineyard

Where to eat

A lot of wineries have restaurants but they can be quite expensive and apparently vary hugely in quality. One place that nearly everyone seemed to recommend was The Boathouse in Onetangi. The guides on the hop-on hop-off bus recommended it, as did some of the locals that we hitchhiked with. We got fish ‘n’ chips for lunch there and can confirm that it was pretty good. The place has a deck overlooking the beach across the road and is also conveniently right beside the bus stop.

Fish 'n' chips at The Boathouse, Onetangi The Boathouse, Waiheke Island