Set in the heart of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island is one of the best day trips away from New Zealand’s most populated city. Here are some prime ways to soak up the stunning winemaking region.
What to do
Waiheke Island sits just 12 miles from Auckland. The most regular service to the island is operated by Fuller Ferries, departing from under the clock tower on Quay Street in downtown Auckland (check the full time table here). Of course, the journey is just the start of your island adventure. Waiheke Island has a plethora of activities to experience and beautiful lodging, but here’s a small collection of some of our favorites:
Wine tours. If you’ve set a gloriously gluttonous day for food and wine, the best way to get some of NZ’s finest is via a hop-on-hop-off wine tour.There are plenty of different company’s shuttling tourists around the popular spot, but Around Waiheke Tours is always friendly, fun and informative. You’ll hop on a shuttle bus and soak up the coastal vistas around the island as you go to each cellar door. Check out their website for a full list of tours available. For something more indulgent, Waiheke Island Wine Tours offer luxury options such as heli-flights.
DIY wining and dining. For a more casual afternoon of wining and dining, pick one of the island’s wineries, book a table and treat yourself. You can get a cab or a bus from the ferry terminal upon arrival on Waiheke. A table under the hanging vines at Stoneyridge is wonderfully romantic. The sunny courtyard captures the heat and overlooks the rolling grape vines, making it a picturesque haven at any time of year. They pride themselves on their Bordeaux-style red wine — try the Larose. Or, if you’re more of a foodie, tuck into a Spanish feast of grilled wakanui grain fed rump of beef, pan-fried calamari and more at award-winning eatery Casita Miro. During the summer, you can book a chic picnic on their pretty lawns (perfect for a couple). Alternatively, if you’ve got a group, or are feeling the winter chill, order a round of tapas, cured meats (Leeland lamb ribs, pan-fried calamari and more) and other local produce to one of the tables in the rustic restaurant. I’d suggest finishing off the meal with a Madame Rouge fortified wine.
Getting active. If you’re feeling physical, mix up your day on Waiheke Island with some outdoorsy fun. There are full and half-day cruises, lovely beachside strolls to be had, zip-lines, fishing trips, kayaks or bike rentals. There’s usually no need to book; just walk straight to the small hire office from the ferry terminal and pick up your cycle, helmet and map (there’s heaps of tourist information at the wharf so you won’t get lost). Even for a rookie rider, this is a delightful way to check out the island. A pedal into the tiny town of Oneroa will take about 20 minutes from the ferry where you can pick up some fresh fish and chips to enjoy on the beach.
Where to stay
Delamore Lodge. Inspired by the land, the Mediterranean and the image of a Maori bone fishhook, Delamore Lodge is the top luxury lodging on the island. The building, designed by local architect Ron Stevenson with the owner, Roselyn Barnett-Storey, features stunning views overlooking the waters of Owhanake Bay on the north western tip of Waiheke Island. They offer fine dining of a five-course dinner tailored to the day’s homegrown harvest, spa treatments such as the Lithos treatment using chilled rocks as therapuetic instruments, and can host corporate events.
The Boatshed. This small, boutique hotel (closed during the winter months) is designed following the shape and theme of classic Kiwi boatsheds — high, peaked ceilings and bright and airy spaces. The elegant accommodation is made up of three separate sheds, each with their own balcony, bathroom, lounging area and entertainment facilities. A spa featuring a range of massages, wraps and full-service treatments will put you into a state of serenity.
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