of Waiheke Island
Auckland Tours and Activities
a taste of something different in Auckland then all you need to
do is hop on to a Waiheke ferry.
is an island in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour and is both a step
back in time and a place of escape for wealthy Aucklanders.
passenger ferry takes about 35 minutes from downtown Auckland while
the vehicle vessel leaves from Half Moon Bay in the city's eastern
suburbs. The car ferry takes about 45 minutes.
is quite a small island - about 93 square kilometres - and needs
three days to have a sedate explore around it.
western part of the island, around Oneroa, boasts nice beaches -
particularly Palm Beach - art galleries and some pretty good eateries.
Vino is one to mention. It overlooks Oneroa Beach and has an excellent
central part has a lovely beach at Onetangi - along with more restaurants
- and a cluster of wineries. We ate at Salt, having had the fish
recommended, and found it excellent.
the east you can enjoy some lovely landscapes in relative peace
major eastern attraction is the World War II fortification at the
strangely named Stony Batter.
fort is the largest underground fort in New Zealand and was built
with the help of the Americans to protect Auckland against Japanese
invasion and Allied shipping from German raiders.
main defences were 9.2 inch guns that could lob a 170-kilo shell
30 kilometres and hit targets sailing over the horizon.
Batter is a terrific place to visit if you have any interest at
all in military history.
$8, plus $5 to hire a very necessary torch, you can explore to your
heart's content the concrete passages, rooms and gun emplacements.
can drive most of the way to Stony Batter but a dispute with a local
landowner - who doesn't seem to understand the phrase public access
- means a 1.3km walk to the fort.
is worth it - not only for the visit, but to ram it up an antipodean
checking out the eastern part of the island we can thoroughly recommend
dropping into Passage Rock winery.
from some rather fine wines - taste the sauvignon blanc and the
syrahs - the winery also has a terrific cafe.
had three entrees on a blazing hot afternoon and they were more
than enough to satisfy the hunger. The calamari was fabulous.
have to say Passage Rock was the best of the four wineries we visited
during our stay on Waiheke.
of the other places - closer to Oneroa - were pretentious with a
capital P and, it must be said, a rip off.
many Waiheke wineries are not overly friendly to folk travelling
through wanting to taste their wares.
Rock happily offered free tastings - which you would expect - and
so did Man O War, but nearer the main centres things changed.
Saratoga it's a $5 charge to sample only three of their wines, which
comes off if you buy a bottle, and if it means going past their
quota of tasting bottles they won't open another.
nearby Stonyridge - a lovely looking winery - you pay for each wine
cheapest is $3 for a slurp going up to $8 for better quality offerings
and $15 for a taste of the top-of-the-range $200 bottle.
spent many afternoons winetasting in Hawke's Bay and Australia I
found some Waiheke wineries thought they were much better than their
staff may try to baffle by pointing out the subtleties of the vino
on offer but I have had many better in New Zealand.
Waiheke is a place where you can just roam, or laze, depending upon
how you are feeling.
and here's a hint. If you are taking your car to Waiheke it will
set you back quite a bit in ferry costs - about $140 return.
are much better off to book your accommodation before you reach
the island as in many cases you can get that same ferry trip tacked
on to your motel bill for only $25 extra.
On In Auckland