Get some wheels and immerse yourself in this happy and hippy part of the world.
Waiheke is the Hauraki Gulf's most popular island. It is just 35 minutes by ferry from the city of Auckland, so is almost a suburb. It is a favourite with locals as a weekend escape with weather generally warmer than that in Auckland.
For a long time, Waiheke was a place of artists, writers and alternate life-stylers, but is slowly evolving into a place for yachties, wine growers and up-market accommodation. Mike Morgan is a well-known artist and favours an off-beat style of painting. He has sold many works, including some to the Irish band U2.
The bays and beaches are beautiful, and Onetangi Beach has 2.5km of firm, white sand. There is plenty of native bush, vineyards, olive groves and laid-back seaside villages.
Just 8000 people live on the 92 sq/km island, with most of them living on the western side. The largest town is Oneroa where Matiatia Wharf is the main ferry stop. Right at the wharf you will find Waiheke Rental Cars and while scooters are very popular with visitors, they are only 50cc, so if you want to explore more of the island, you are better off with a motorbike or car.
A popular thing to do is to "drive the loop". It is 65km altogether and takes from four to eight hours, depending on how often you stop.
There is a wide choice of accommodation on Waiheke 100 homestays, farmstays, b&bs, baches or flats, ranging from very cheap to fairly expensive. Rocky Bay has the island's only camping ground. We found a delightful bach with no name but great views over Oneroa Bay and sleeping up to four.
The Boatshed overlooking Little Oneroa is a father and son operation. David and Jonathan Scott had owned land on Waiheke for 20 years and it is where school holidays were spent. Now it is the site of superb accommodation which captures the nautical roots of the area.
Guests may stay in Boatsheds or Lighthouse, both of which are beautifully appointed and with attention given to every last detail. Simply prepared, delicious and healthy meals are prepared in an open kitchen and can be taken outdoors or indoors. There are extensive open spaces and guests enjoy a local wine by the open fire, a picnic under the jetty or simply browsing historic memorabilia and local art. They have purchased more land and plan to extend.
Rooms offer ensuites with heated flooring, fine linen, robes and slippers, beach amenities bag, television, video and private shuttered balconies with tank steamer chairs.
Waiheke has the right climate and soil to produce some pretty special wines, particular the red variety, and excellent olives and oils. Volumes of both are small and are eagerly purchased by the home market as well as being sent to select restaurants world-wide.
Te Whau Vineyard on Putiki Bay covers 11 hectares and grows cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, merlot and chardonnay grapes. People love to enjoy a meal in Te Whau's restaurant, taking in the views and enjoying a glass of wine which was grown right there.
Auckland Harbour on New Zealand's north island.
Qantas flies daily to Auckland. Return economy airfares start from $581 from Melbourne; $598 from Sydney; $702 from Brisbane; $856 from Adelaide; $975 from Perth and $1283 from Darwin, per person. Travel until October 19, 2002, except Brisbane travel period which is from October 12 to December 09, 2002. Prices include charges and taxes. Sale ends August 18, 2002. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Waiheke Rental Cars has overnight motorbike hire from around $55.
The Boatshed costs around $385 per double per night.
Bach accommodation can be booked through the Waiheke Visitors Information office from $55 a night and the Boatshed from $385 per double per night.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Waiheke Information Office
2 Korora Road, Oneroa New Zealand
Ph: 0011 64 9372 1234
Fax: 0011 64 9372 firstname.lastname@example.org
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland New Zealand
Ph: 0011 649 372 3242
Fax: 0011 649 372 email@example.com
Waiheke Rental Cars
Waiheke Island New Zealand
Ph: 0011 649 372 8635
Fax: 0011 649 9372 firstname.lastname@example.org
Te Whau Vineyard
Ph: 0011 649 372 7191
Fax: 0011 649 372 email@example.com
Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13