If you, like me, happen to like the taste of fermented grapes on your lips (read: wine) and want to get out of Auckland for a bit, Waiheke Island is the perfect destination for you.
A short 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland takes you to this paradise, which makes it a perfect day trip or weekend trip if you want to stay overnight. There are a few different companies that runs ferries to Waiheke, but we used Fullers, where you can get a return ticket for $38 ($20 for children), with ferries leaving every hour.
Fullers also offer a Waiheke Explorer pass for $60 that includes the ferry as well as a day pass for the hop-on hop-off bus; a great way to explore the island at your own pace without bringing your car over (which you can do, although it is a bit more expensive).
What to expect? Amazing wine, beautiful landscapes, gorgeous beaches, cute little cafes and restaurants, crafty shops and art galleries and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Definitely a must-do if you visit Auckland!
Getting to know the island is of course important, and here are some fun facts that can be fun to know before you go:
1. The name “Waiheke” means “cascading waters” although the original Maori name for the island was “Te Motu Arai Roa”, meaning “long sheltering island”.
2. It is the third most populated island in New Zealand, after the North and the South Islands.
3. Around 9000 people live there permanently, with around 1000 commuting in to Auckland each day for work. During summer the population goes up to 40.000-50.000 with seasonal residents and tourists.
4. There are over 30 vineyards on the island, although not all of them are open to the public. The first one was Goldie Estate established in 1978, and the island is now home to many well-known vineyards like Mudbrick and internationally renowned Stonyridge.
5. The island have two primary schools and one high school.
6. There are nine police officers on the island. There is a very safe community on Waiheke, with most people not locking their windows or doors when they sleep.
7. The island covers 92 square kilometres and is the second largest island in Auckland’s Hauraki Golf, after Great Barrier Island. It has 133km of coastline and 40km of beaches, and at its thinnest part it is 600 meters.
8. The island residents relies on rainwater harvesting for drinking and household use, and during the summer months many locals need to purchase water from water delivery trucks that operate on the island.
9. There is no hospital on the island, so if patiens need further care than what the local doctors can provide you have to go to Auckland.
10. Waiheke has been voted number four best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveler, only after Palawan and Boracay in the Philippines and Ischia in Italy (ahead of islands like Santorini in Greece, Bali in Indonesia and Maui in Hawaii). It has also been rated the fifth best destination in the world to visit by Lonely Planet.
You shouldn’t need any more convincing than this! Just get over there! 😃<<