Waiheke Island is the ultimate island retreat. You’ll feel another world away, and yet Waiheke is just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. Known as the island of wine for its many wineries and vineyards, a wine tasting or tour is a must. Enjoy a day trip or stay longer and enjoy some of the fantastic activities on offer.
Tour the wineries
Join a guided tour to experience some of Waiheke’s fabulous wineries. Enjoy tastings of award-winning wines and relax over a scrumptious vineyard lunch.
There are lots of activities for adventure seekers on Waiheke – try archery and laser clay pigeon shooting, hire a scooter, take a scenic flight or zoom across the tree tops on a flying fox zipline.
Take to the tunnels
Explore the tunnels and gun emplacements at Stony Batter Historic Reserve, an old World War II fort named after its unusual rocky outcrops.
Discover art for art’s sake
Check out Waiheke’s fantastic arts scene, from local galleries and studios to an inspiring sculpture park. Look out for regular art events too.
Waiheke Island is a place of lazy days and holidays, vineyards, olive groves and beautiful beaches, all just a 35-minute cruise from downtown Auckland.
Because it’s so easily accessible from the city, Waiheke is an ideal day trip destination. If you’d like to stay longer and enjoy more of what’s on offer, there’s a huge range of accommodation, from luxury lodges to holiday homes and traditional Kiwi baches.
Waiheke Island is a national taonga (treasure) with many special places. Home to historic sites, wildlife and diverse habitats, the island is an important part of New Zealand’s landscape. Waiheke’s National Reserves protect natural, historical and cultural heritage and help to safeguard the biodiversity of the planet.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Auckland Council both manage park lands and public reserves on Waiheke Island. Reserves managed by DOC include Stony Batter Historic Reserve, Matietie Historic Reserve and Te Matuku Bay Cemetery and Scenic Reserves.
Waiheke Island is part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, which protects the natural and historic features of the gulf that are of national and international importance. The quality and presence of wildlife and plants, not found anywhere else in the world, make the marine park a highly protected area. Visit www.doc.govt.nz to find out more about how you can help protect this beautiful part of the world.
With its wonderful landscape and laid-back lifestyle, this is the perfect place for a relaxing escape or a new adventure – you can do as much or as little as you like on Waiheke. There’s so much to see and do, whether you have a few hours, a few days or a few weeks.
Known as the ‘island of wine’, Waiheke has around 30 wineries and vineyards, many of them internationally renowned. Join a tour and enjoy tastings or take your pick and relax over lunch with friends and family.
Waiheke is equally known for its numerous beautiful beaches. Pack a picnic, take a dip or enjoy a slow stroll along the white sands.
Adventure seekers can hire a scooter to explore the island and try their hand at archery, laser clay pigeon shooting, kayaking or even zoom across the tree tops on a flying fox zipline.
There are lots of walks – a great way to discover the natural beauty of the island – as well as a number of mountain bike tracks.
With a large population of writers, poets and artists, Waiheke is one of New Zealand’s most important and exciting artistic centres. Get a taste of the local arts scene on the island with a tour to some of the independent studios and galleries – simply admire the paintings, ceramics, glassworks and sculpture or pick up a one-of-a-kind piece to take home. You can also discover the island’s deep-rooted Māori history on an interactive tour with a local guide.
A guided tour is the perfect way to see some of the island's treasures. There are several tours to choose from to suit all tastes and budgets. Many stop off at wineries, olive groves or art studios, whilst others offer personalised itineraries, including Harley Davidson rides and hop-on, hop-off buses to explore the island on your own.
For a completely different perspective, take a scenic flight and see the beauty of the island from above.
From elegant wineries and top-notch restaurants to casual cafés, Waiheke has gained a reputation as a gourmet food destination. Seafood caught daily and locally grown fresh vegetables feature on many menus, but there’s a wide variety on offer from Thai and Indian to French and Italian. Bookings are advised when possible, especially in summer.
Waiheke is buzzing with events year round – art exhibitions, multi-day music and cultural festivals, guided walks, sports events and much more. The island comes alive when there’s something special on; because it’s so accessible from downtown Auckland, day trippers and other visitors join the locals to celebrate.
About Waiheke Island
Waiheke is the second largest island in the Hauraki Gulf, and boasts 134 kilometres (83 miles) of spectacular coastline. Just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke is also the most populated and most accessible of the Hauraki Gulf islands.
Waiheke was discovered and settled by Māori around 1000 years ago. Some Māori legends say that one of the pioneering waka (canoes) to New Zealand came upon the island.
The first traces of Europeans arrived with the missionary Samuel Marsden in the early 1800s, several years after Captain Cook passed by and acknowledged the island in his travels through the Hauraki Gulf.
Māori pa sites
Signs of Māori occupation on Waiheke Island still exist today. Archaeological sites are scattered over the island, including more than 40 pa sites, cooking pits and terraced areas. Look for walks and tours that will give you a glimpse into the island’s Māori history.
Stony Batter Historic Reserve
Located on the eastern tip of Waiheke Island is Stony Batter, an historical WWII defence complex. The reserve is accessible by a countryside walk that offers striking views of the Hauraki Gulf and Coromandel Peninsula. Stony Batter is open to visitors and you can walk through the network of underground tunnels and chambers that link to magnificent gun emplacements.
Waiheke Island is home to a permanent population of around 8000 residents. About 2000 of these residents commute to Auckland via ferry every day for work. The island’s beauty and proximity to the city make Waiheke a popular holiday destination and the population is said to swell to about 50,000 over the summer months.
Much of the population lives close to the western end of the island, or close to an east-west isthmus between Huruhi Bay and Oneroa Bay. The settlements of Oneroa and Blackpool are here and immediately east of these are Palm Beach, Surfdale and Ostend. Further east lies Onetangi, which is located on the central north coast on the wide ocean beach of Onetangi Bay. Much of the eastern half of Waiheke Island is privately owned farmland.
Get free information and advice about things to do and places to stay on Waiheke at one of our i-SITE Visitor Information Centres. You can also make bookings for activities, accommodation and transport – including discounted ferry tickets to the island – before you go, or pop into Waiheke’s own i-SITE in Oneroa village when you arrive.
Princes Wharf i-SITE
137 Quay Street, Princes Wharf
118E Oceanview Road, Oneroa
09 372 1234
Waiheke is just a 35-minute trip by fast ferry from downtown Auckland or 45 minutes from Half Moon Bay to Kennedy Point on the car and passenger ferry. Getting around the island is easy, with a wide range of rental options available, from luxury chauffeur cars to scooters, regular bus and taxi services and even a hop-on, hop-off bus.
With some 30 boutique vineyards and wineries, it’s no wonder Waiheke is known as the island of wine.
Waiheke’s hot, dry summers and stony soils create perfect growing conditions for a variety of grapes and the island’s quality wines include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, cabernet franc and chardonnay.
Sip on award-winning drops with a private or group wine tasting and try the locally grown and pressed olive oils. Many of the wineries also have cafés or restaurants offering superb dining from fresh platters for sharing to gourmet cuisine. Scattered across the island, the vineyards themselves are as varied as the wines; some boasting sleek, modern restaurants and tasting rooms, some more rustic. What they all have in common is the world-class quality of wine and the stunning scenery that surrounds them.
The combination of natural beauty, excellent facilities and fine food and wine makes Waiheke wineries extremely popular spots for weddings and corporate functions.
From rugged bush-clad bays to white-sand beaches, Waiheke’s scenic coastline provides a diverse range of waterside retreats. Whether you’re after a secluded hideaway, lively water sports or a family-friendly shore, Waiheke's beaches have plenty to offer.
The larger beaches on the northern side of the island such as Palm Beach tend towards surf action and are sandier and deeper. Beaches on the southern side such as Surfdale are usually calm and shallow and generally a mix of stony or sandy.
NORTHERN BEACHES AND BAYS
Facing the sunny north, Oneroa is a delightful little village with a beautiful white-sand beach in its bay. Oneroa Beach is known for its calm waters, perfect for mooring boats and safe for swimming. The village centre itself is a popular visitor spot, with a great selection of cafés, restaurants, bars and shops, as well as plenty of accommodation options.
This picturesque, sheltered bay is a tranquil combination of soft white sands, shady pohutukawa trees and calm waters ideal for family swimming. A popular mooring bay, Little Oneroa is within walking distance of shops, restaurants and the bustling centre of Oneroa village.
Palm Beach is a sun-drenched, sheltered spot with calm waters and white sand. At certain times of year, phosphorescence fills the bay, making a stunning display in the water. Set in native bush, Palm Beach has a restaurant, beach shop and playground and is a five-minute drive to Oneroa village.
The two-kilometre stretch of white sand on Onetangi Beach makes this settlement a popular holiday destination. The beach is perfect for water activities, including windsurfing, swimming and surfing. The shore is lined with houses and holiday homes and also has some great cafés and restaurants.
WESTERN BEACHES AND BAYS
Its calm waters dotted with yachts, Matiatia’s pretty bay is the first view of Waiheke for many visitors. Matiatia is home to the island’s main ferry terminal, with an information kiosk, café and bus and taxi services. Situated at the western end of Waiheke, it’s just a 5-minute drive to Oneroa village.
Church Bay is fast growing into an exclusive retreat with its sprinkling of vineyards and olive groves, including the renowned Mudbrick and Cable Bay. Situated just south of Matiatia, Church Bay has some of the island’s best luxury accommodation and spectacular views across the Hauraki Gulf.
SOUTHERN BEACHES AND BAYS
Set around a leafy southern bay, this peaceful retreat is graced with thick native bush and three sheltered coves. Popular with artists and boaties, Rocky Bay has wonderful views across the Hauraki Gulf. This bay is a relaxing escape with plenty of scenic bush walks, a playground and Māori pa site.
Whakanewha is a 2700-hectare regional park with a mature native forest, a large wetland, rare bird species and remains of Māori and European settlement. With picnic areas, a campground and shallow swimming, Whakanewha Bay is another great family beach location.
Home to a sandy, shaded beach, Surfdale is a favourite spot for windsurfers, with a frequent breeze to set the sails and a sandy bottom to protect the feet. Surfdale is one of Waiheke’s largest villages, and has a range of shops, services and restaurants.
Set on a peaceful rocky beach, Blackpool is a small village just a short walk from Oneroa village. The bay is a popular spot for sea kayaking, and with views stretching across the Hauraki Gulf and back to Auckland city in the distance it’s a great place to watch the sunset.
EASTERN BEACHES AND BAYS
Man O' War Bay
Man O' War Bay is located on the eastern side of Waiheke, known as 'The Bottom End'. A very popular bay for anchorage, Man O' War is known for its peaceful location and beautiful, world-renowned vineyard. A Department of Conservation walking track leads up to the historic site, Stony Batter.
Walks on Waiheke Island are the perfect way to get immersed in nature and discover the beauty of the island. Explore the coastline, pass through native bush and visit historical sites. There’s a great range of walks, from short and easy to the more challenging.
While some Waiheke Island walks are gentle strolls, some walking experiences are of tramping track standard and require a reasonable level of fitness.
Stony Batter Historic Reserve
Access: Man O' War Bay Road (follow signposts)
Stony Batter is Waiheke’s most significant historical site. Explore the fascinating fortifications or venture into the maze of underground tunnels (entrance fee applies). The views across the Hauraki Gulf are fantastic and the easy walk is suitable for all ages – a great family outing any time of year. Find out more about this walk.
Whakanewha Regional Park
Access: Gordons Road
On the south side of Waiheke Island, Whakanewha Regional Park is known for its mature coastal forest, cascading streams and sweeping crescent-shaped beach, which is cut in two by a forest-covered headland. At high tide the water is shallow, warm and ideal for children to swim and play in.
Access: Matiatia Wharf
This walk is a great option if you want to take in as much of the island as possible without venturing too far from the ferry and Oneroa village. The main loop takes about three hours at a leisurely pace, while several side trips take in some of Waiheke Island's historical highlights – keep a look out for World War II pillboxes on Delamore Drive and the terraces of a headland pa.
Church Bay circuit
Access: Matiatia Wharf
Spectacular views, a special scenic reserve and an area of historical significance are features of this sometimes strenuous walk. Follow the beach to the southern end, cross the stream and climb the hillside to the first track intersection.
Access: The Strand
Onetangi is Waiheke's longest ocean beach. A particularly beautiful part of the island, Onetangi Bay has a long, white-sand beach that’s perfect for family outings, safe swimming and picnics, and offers a choice of refreshment establishments if you need to refuel.
Oneroa / Blackpool stretch
Access: Tui Street
Go beach-to-beach in this popular walk, starting at the island's main village, Oneroa. This walk features a series of coastal reserves and walkways linked by residential roads. It takes you through Oneroa’s, showcasing its charming shops and cafés. The beaches below the village are sheltered and safe to swim in. Two access ways are available from Oneroa village to sunny Oneroa Beach – one on the corner of Oceanview and Waikare Roads, and the other opposite the Red Cross Hall.
Hekerua Bay to Palm Beach
Access: Top of Goodwin Ave & Queen's Dr
This lovely walk takes you between two popular swimming spots. Hekerua Bay and Enclosure Bay boast shingle beaches, rocky pools and coastal rock outcrops. Palm Beach is a very popular white sandy beach ideal for swimming and sunbathing. Follow the path that zig-zags down through Watters Glen to Hekerua Bay. Turn hard-right from the end of the concrete path to access Te Aroha Avenue. The incline is gentle and grassed for 250 metres, then becomes a steep track with more than 100 steps.
For more information on Waiheke Island walks visit doc.govt.nz or visit the Waiheke iSITE.
Waiheke Island is a national taonga (treasure) with many special places.
Home to historic sites, wildlife and diverse habitats, the island is an important part of New Zealand’s landscape. Waiheke’s National Reserves protect natural, historical and cultural heritage and help to safeguard the biodiversity of the planet.
Waiheke Island is part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, which protects the natural and historic features of the gulf that are of national and international importance. The quality and presence of wildlife and plants, not found anywhere else in the world, make the marine park a highly protected area.
Do your bit to help us protect the precious environment of Waiheke Island. If you’re planning a bush walk or water activities in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, please read the details below.
Help look after Waiheke Island’s reserves
- Do not light fires
- Do not take dogs or other animals into any of the reserves or into the Stony Batter walkway as they threaten wildlife and farm animals
- Take your rubbish away with you
- Do not remove or disturb any artefacts or other historic remains
- Do not camp on the reserves – there is a designated campground in Whakanewha Regional Park for those wishing to camp
- If a walkway crosses private farmland, leave gates as you find them. Follow the orange marker posts and do not disturb stock or farm operations.
Non-compliance with these conditions may result in prosecution. For more information, visit doc.govt.nz, visit the Department of Conservation (DOC) Auckland Visitor Centre (at the Princes Wharf i-SITE) or call +64 9 379 6476.
How do I get to Waiheke Island?
Getting to Waiheke Island couldn’t be easier, with regular ferries running from downtown Auckland seven days a week, as well as scenic flights and helicopter flights available for charter.
The passenger ferry to Waiheke Island from downtown Auckland takes 35 minutes. There is no charge to bring a bicycle with you on the ferry. Transport on the island includes a bus service and taxis, with cars, scooters and bicycles available for hire. If you want to take a car, the vehicle ferry runs from Half Moon Bay to Kennedy Point and takes around 45 minutes.
Scenic flights and helicopter flights
Travel to the island in style on a scenic flight or by helicopter. There are numerous flight operators to Waiheke from various locations around Auckland. Some vineyards and accommodation providers have helicopter landing facilities and the flight time to Waiheke from downtown Auckland is approximately 10 minutes.
Find out more about scenic flights here.
How long does the ferry to Waiheke Island take?
The Waiheke Island passenger ferry from downtown Auckland takes 35 minutes, and the vehicle ferry from Half Moon Bay to Kennedy Point takes around 45 minutes.
Where do I catch the ferry to Waiheke Island?
Passenger ferries to Waiheke Island depart from the Fullers ferry terminal in downtown Auckland.
Is there a car ferry?
You can take your car to Waiheke Island with SeaLink’s Waiheke car ferry from Half Moon Bay to Kennedy Point. The trip is approximately 45 minutes.
What kind of transport is there on Waiheke Island?
It’s easy to get around Waiheke Island. Public transport, tours, rental bikes, taxis and transfers are available from the ferry terminal at Matiatia Wharf or by pre-booking at an Auckland i-SITE Visitor Information Centre.
You can buy an all-day bus pass from the bus driver on the island, or when you purchase your ferry ticket at any of the ticket offices. The pass gives you unlimited travel on all public bus services on the island for that day.
EFTPOS, Visa and Mastercard services are available at most businesses. Cash is needed for public buses on Waiheke Island.
Please note: there is no public transport to Stony Batter, an historical site at the eastern end of the island.
It takes around 20 minutes to drive from Oneroa to Onetangi, or about one and a half to two hours to cycle.
The Waiheke Discount Card provides discounts at more than 70 businesses in Waiheke Island, saving you hundreds of dollars. Buy the Holiday Maker or Day Tripper cards at the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre in Oneroa Village.
What kind of accommodation is there on Waiheke Island?
There is a wide range of accommodation on Waiheke Island to suit all tastes and budgets.
Choose from luxury lodges, self-contained apartments, boutique properties, hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, holiday homes, baches and cottages.
What is there to do on Waiheke Island?
There are so many activities on Waiheke Island, whether you’re after relaxation or adventure – or both.
Find out more about what to do on Waiheke Island here.
Where are the wineries on Waiheke Island?
Waiheke is known as the ‘island of wine’ for its many boutique scattered across the island. Find out more about visiting Waiheke Island wineries and tours.
How can I plan my trip to Waiheke Island?
The easiest way to plan your trip is to drop in to one of our Auckland i-SITE Visitor Information Centres. Visit us or call 0800 AUCKLAND (0800 282 552).