An Aucklander’s guide to Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is more than just wine, you know.

It looks like the weather has finally cleared up, just in time for many summery antics! We've also been blessed with a few long weekends, which is the perfect opportunity to call all your friends together and head out for a day trip.

Exploring Auckland is a great way to build knowledge about New Zealand's beautiful assets, and also a chance to connect with your peers for friendship, course support and just to avoid boredom. And what better place than somewhere a little way out in the water – Waiheke Island.

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One of New Zealand's most popular islands

Known in Maori as Te Motu-arai-roa, meaning 'the long sheltering island', Waiheke Island has always been a place rich in resources and picturesque views. You're able to spot this island from many points in Auckland, so of course, it didn't take long before early European settlers embarked on a cruise to explore it. The earliest evidence suggested that this first happened around 1801.

Waiheke Island is located in the Hauraki Gulf, and was originally covered in dense forests, bushes and native plants. Although you probably won't learn about Waiheke Island in your studies, it's still fascinating to know a little bit about this hot tourist spot.

What activities are there on Waiheke Island?

First of, you may have heard that Waiheke is home to a lot of wineries, with not much else to do. That's a big misconception! It may not be an island teeming with wild adventures and exhilarating activities, but fun can always be found in this little retreat. 

  • Embark on one of the many wine tours

The climate on this island is slightly warmer than Auckland, making it the perfect summery getaway. Stopping off at a vineyard should be an essential in your plans. You'll get to sip on some of New Zealand's world famous wine, grown right here on this small island!

Depending on the vineyard you choose, you could easily spend a few hours on a tour, learning about the fermenting process where grapes end up as a nice vino. 

  • Bask on a beach

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Once a wine tour has mellowed everyone out, why not soak up some vitamin D at the beach? The beauty of such a tiny island is that there will be a lot of scenic beaches to choose! Just make sure you slip, slop, slap to protect your delicate skin.

  • Defy gravity on a flying fox

Whether you love hair-raising adventures, exploring nature or a bit of both, you have to sign up to this unique zipline experience at EcoZip Adventures.

You'll be hooked up to state-of-the-art flying fox ziplines for a wee stroll into the heart of Waiheke's ecology. It's a chance to get up close with greenery that contributes to Waiheke Island's beauty, all the while in an adrenaline-packed position. 

EcoZip Adventures even offers a ferry shuttle service, with many drop-off locations after your ziplining experience.

  • See Waiheke Island from a horse's POV

Fancy yourself quite a rider? Or have you never even touched a horse before? Whatever your level of experience around a horse, a Waiheke Horse Tour will be the perfect way for you to explore the island.

It's a magical, immersive way to connect with the land for a few hours. You'll pass mussel and oyster farms amongst some of New Zealand's most beautiful landscapes

Plan your weekend

As you can see, there are a lot of things to do on Waiheke Island. You can easily catch the ferry there from the Britomart terminal. Just make sure you know which times the ferries arrive and leave, and also organise a way to get around the island, whether bus or rental car.

For more information about activities to fill your summer weekends with, contact the team at AIS today.