Our planned days out on the island
While spectacular beaches and long lunches in the vines are the quintessential Waiheke experiences, there is plenty more to do on the island. Here are some of our
favourite ways to spend a day.
For a true exploration of the island, hop on a boat or head down the dusty gravel road to the remote eastern end of Waiheke. A half hour’s drive from Oneroa, make your first stop at Stony Batter Historic Reserve for uninterrupted views across the Pacific and a visit to the network of subterranean tunnels created as a WW2 military defence fortress. Next, head to nearby Man O’ War estate for a crisp glass of rosé, some freshly shucked oysters and a hearty woodfired pizza in the waterfront outdoor dining area – where you’ll often find a DJ entertaining daytrippers on summer weekends. Man O’ War bay is great place to anchor up if you’re travelling on the water, and also ideal for a refreshing afternoon swim. To finish, a gin tasting session at Waiheke Gin Distillery is a must. If you’re driving, be warned – your car will get dusty!
From the clear blue waters and white sands on the north side of the island, to the picture-perfect bays to the south, there are dozens of beaches to explore on the island, and there’s always good food and wine close by.
Popular Oneroa and Onetangi are beloved for their sunny, north-facing stretches of golden sands, crystal clear water and oceanside bars and restaurants. If you’re into surfing, Onetangi is also your best bet for waves on a windy day.
Palm Beach is our favourite option for an afternoon BBQ using the facilities at the eastern of the beach, or head around the rocks to quiet and sheltered Little Palm for its clear, calm waters. Small and sheltered Enclosure Bay boasts the warmest waters on Waiheke, with great snorkeling off its pebble beach.
Wines and vines
With over 30 vineyards spread across the island, you could spend days sampling Waiheke’s exceptional wines. If you’ve got just one day, we’d recommend starting at the cellar door of Goldie Estate, the island’s original vineyard, where Chardonnay is the star. Enjoy sampling the hand-crafted wines, and be sure to stroll to the top of the hill under the old oak tree to soak up the views over native bush to Putiki Bay. Next, take the short hop to Tantalus Estate for a tasting session and an upscale long lunch amongst the picture-perfect rows of vines of Onetangi valley. Then, as the sun dips toward the horizon, there’s no better spot for a sundowner than the garden bar of the island’s most romantic destination, Mudbrick Vineyards and Restaurant.
A taste of Auckland
If the city is beckoning at you from across the water, jump on the ferry for the 35-minute day trip to Auckland. Your first stop is Daily Bread – favoured by Aucklanders for its excellent coffee, breads and pastries, it’s a short walk from the ferry terminal on Galway Street in Britomart. Or pay a visit to Amano, also in Britomart, for a locally-sourced, Italian-inspired brunch from one of Auckland’s most good-looking eateries – which is also open for lunch, dinner and takeaways. While you’re in this fashionable precinct, explore the New Zealand designer boutiques dotted throughout its cobbled streets and historic dockside warehouses. For lunch, make a quick stop in at Perch corner bar for some handmade dumplings. In the afternoon, Commercial Bay and lower Queen St offer luxury and international fashion houses. And for a bite on the way back to the ferry, Alma, one of our favourite restaurants, is a must-visit for its award-winning Andalucian menu and cosy ambiance – or stop in at hidden speakeasy Caretaker to sample handcrafted seasonal cocktails. If you arrive early for the ferry, Shucker Brothers is a must do for delicious, fresh oysters & seafood and a drink while you wait.