Just a 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland in the Hauraki Gulf lies the beautiful island of Waiheke, offering the perfect escape from the city and a great combination of nature, food and culture.
Flanked by sandy beaches and rocky bays and boasting 26 boutique wineries and an equal number of galleries and arts and crafts stores, Waiheke offers the best of both worlds.
Waiheke’s main draw is its stunning sandy beaches on the ocean side of the island. Oneroa Beach is the island’s main beach, by the vibrant town of Oneroa on the sunny north side of the island, and is ideal for families wanting a wide range of facilities. Within walking distance of Oneroa is the more picturesque Little Oneroa beach, with its pohutukawa trees and gentle waters perfect for swimming. Fans of kitesurfing and windsurfing should head for Surfdale Beach, whose regular breezes and feet-friendly sandy bottom create the perfect conditions. Cactus Bay is considered by most to be the island’s most perfect beach and the fact that it is only accessible by water means that numbers are kept down, adding to its feeling of seclusion and exclusivity - charter a yacht or pack a picnic and paddle around to it in a kayak.
With its warm, dry and sunny summers and drainage-perfect stony soils, Waiheke has the ideal conditions for growing grapes and producing extremely high quality wines. Taste your way around the 26 wineries scattered across the island and follow it up with an award-winning meal with a view at one of the wineries’ excellent restaurants. Many also boast olive groves and beehives so you can add olive, olive oil and honey tasting to your wine tasting. If you want to combine action with sipping, the winery and microbrewery Wild on Waiheke also offers archery, clay shooting, petanque, and a giant chess board.
Explore the island via a network of trails scaling clifftops, dropping down to sandy beaches, and disappearing into native bushland. The Stony Batter walkway, at the eastern end of the island, leads into a fascinating complex of World War II gun emplacements, gun stores, and magazine and engine rooms linked by almost a kilometre of underground tunnels, all of which can be navigated through.
Before the millionaires realised its potential as a holiday home haven, Waiheke Island was almost exclusively populated by a community of writers, poets and artists, leading to it becoming an important artistic centre. 26 studios and galleries can be visited, where sculptures, paintings, ceramics and textiles by local, national and international artists are displayed.