Kia Ora! It’s finally here! My first New Zealand post! First, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year! Let’s make 2017 a memorable one. I’m currently in New Zealand exploring this beautiful country and I can’t wait to see more of it in the coming year. There are so many things to see and do here. I’m afraid I won’t be able to do everything so I’ve tried to narrow down my list to the top 5 things I want to see/do while here; more on that later. First, let’s talk about dreamy Waiheke Island.
Waiheke is an absolute paradise that’s perfect for relaxation. Amazingly, it’s only a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland. The island is home to boutique vineyards with fancy restaurants, beautiful beaches, an impressive network of walking trails and a fantastic arts scene. For a lot of visitors from the city, Waiheke is just a day trip. However, if you do decide to stay overnight on the island, you’ll get to explore more of it in a more relaxed way. So if you’ve got 48 hours on Waiheke Island, here’s what I suggest you do:
1. Check out the beaches
Three of the best beaches on the island are Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi. All have long stretches of white sand that’s perfect for strolling on a nice sunny day. The warm(ish) water that surround the island is also great for swimming. The local buses can reach these beaches, which is great if you don’t plan to rent a car. Alternatively, you can also rent an ebike or a scooter to get around the island (an electric bike is highly recommended because the island is hilly!). I suggest you visit Oneroa first as it is just next to the town and only a short bus ride or 15-minute walk from the passenger ferry terminal.
2. Visit the wineries and restaurants
Since Waiheke is famous for its vineyards, a wine testing tour is a must (or at least a visit to one of the wineries). A lot of the wineries have their own tasting rooms and top-notch restaurants. Besides the great wine and food, some of the wineries also offer spectacular views. For instance, Cable Bay Vineyards and Restaurant has a stunning view of Auckland. If you want a more remote and exclusive location, Man O’War is a great option (you literally have to drive on a dirt road to get there, or you can take a boat).
3. Go for a hike
The perfect way to discover the island and its amazing natural sceneries is by going on a hike. Waiheke has an impressive network of walking trails. The collection of walks is called “Te Ara Hura”, meaning “path of discovery”. The 100km continuous route ranges from short and easy to the more challenging that can take you hours. Te Ara Hura is divided into four areas that you can do in stages: Headlands, Beaches ‘n’ Baches, Forest Heart and the Far End. I personally did parts of the Headlands and Beaches ‘n’ Baches trails. These trails lead you through nature reserves, coastlines with spectacular views and even the backyards of some of the multi-million dollar mansions facing the ocean.
If you still have spare time, here are some of the other activities I recommend you do on the island:
Visit the galleries:
Waiheke has a thriving arts scene. There are a few galleries and studious around the island. The biggest one is the Waiheke Community Art Gallery. They host a variety of exhibits throughout the year including the headland Sculpture on the Gulf, a contemporary outdoor sculpture exhibition.
This is a little bit on the pricey side, but you’ll see Waiheke from a different perspective. Their package also includes a mini tour of the island, including pick up and drop off. I suggest doing it just before your plan to go back to the city so you can get a ride back to the ferry terminal.