Waiheke Island is a picturesque island in New Zealand filled with charming scenery, wineries and restaurants.
I heard about Waiheke Island for the first time from a friend of mine who said it was one of her favorite parts of New Zealand. As a wine lover, I immediately added it to my list of things to do in New Zealand.
TIP: Bring your passport, a divers license won’t be accepted.
After an incredible, but exhausting road trip from the South Island to the North Island of New Zealand, I was more than ready to drop off the rental car in Auckland, say goodbye to the windy cliffside roads, and relax with a glass of wine in my hand.
Despite planning our day trip from Auckland to Waiheke Island at the last minute, it was a breeze. The ferry to Waiheke island was easy to get tickets for, as we opted to purchase the ferry tickets online.
Transportation once you’re ON the island however, is a little more complicated.
How to Get to Waiheke Island
Getting to Waiheke Island is just a ferry ride away from Auckland. There are usually 1-2 ferries leaving from Auckland every hour which takes visitors to Waiheke Island.
How Long is the Ferry Ride to Waiheke?
The ferry ride is only 40 minutes and has spectacular views of Auckland.
Transportation on Waiheke Island
There are limited transportation options on Waiheke Island.
You can take a cab on the island, but these were super expensive, so we opted not to use them. Gas is very expensive on New Zealand.
Waiheke Island Bus
There’s an affordable bus day pass that costs around $10, and stops at various points throughout the island, however we found the timetable to be limiting and the stops to be far from some of the wineries we wanted to visit. We didn’t realize this until after we purchased the bus day pass, so we only used it to get to the first winery, and after that we hitchhiked the rest of the way.
There are bike rentals on the island for visitors. Since we knew we would be having some wine, we decided against these, but for those more interested in the hiking, or sightseeing the bikes would be a great option. Warning – be prepared for some hilly roads!
After taking the bus to the first winery, I ended up hitchhiking the rest of the time on the island. While it’s not something I would normally do, and there’s always some risk involved in hitchhiking, the island felt super safe and was a fairly normal way of getting around. Ironically, our drivers were all from the U.S., and we didn’t get picked up by any New Zealand natives.
Waiheke Island Wine Tasting Tours
There are many tour operators that offer wine tasting on Waiheke Island. We considered purchasing a wine tasting tour for our visit, but in the end we decided against it, because they were $100+ and didn’t stop at the wineries we wanted to visit. Most of the tours provide transportation once you’re on the island, 3 wine tastings and include lunch. If you don’t want to worry about transportation once you get to the island this could be the best option for you.
We wanted more flexibility, and to save some money, so we opted to do our own tour. For reference, the wine tastings typically cost $10-$15 NZD for 3 to 5 samples of wine.
My Waiheke Island Wine Tour
My sister and I created our own wine tasting itinerary, stopping at the following wineries:
The Goldie Estate, established in 1978, is the oldest vineyard on Waiheke. When we went for a wine tasting, we met some students from the University of Auckland’s Wine Science Center. The Goldie Estate works with the university partnering with students and researchers on wine education. The wine tasting was $10, for 4 wine samples. Everyone raves about their picnic baskets, though we didn’t buy any food there.
Cable Bay Vineyards
Cable Bay is a modern looking winery, with wine tastings in the cellar. We sampled some wines and then purchased a bottle and sat outside on the grass, enjoying the spectacular view of Waiheke Island.
Mudbrick Restaurant and Vineyard
Mudbrick was by far the most beautiful vineyard that we visited. There was an intricate garden leading up to the Mudbrick Restaurant, beautiful outdoor seating with incredible views, and a perfectly rustic-chic restaurant with amazing food.
Views from the patio:
Scallops for dinner at Mudbrick’s restaurant: