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 history
The history of Waiheke Island
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.
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.
Visit the Waiheke i-SITE Visitor Information Centre for more information about the island or to help plan your trip. You can also collect free Waiheke Island maps from the i-SITE.
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.
Get a taste of the local arts scene on the island with a tour to some of the island’s studios and galleries. Simply admire or pick up a one-of-a-kind piece to take home. Join an interactive tour to discover the island’s Māori history and stories.
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.
With some 30 boutique vineyards and wineries, it’s no wonder Waiheke is known as the island of wine.
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 – all served with stunning scenery on the side.
From rugged bush-clad bays to white-sand beaches, Waiheke’s scenic coastline boasts 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.
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.
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.
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).