On Waiheke Island, the wineries are one of the best places to visit

Waiheke Island | Places To Visit On This Laid Back Gem

Waiheke Island makes a great day trip as there are many fanstastic places to visit on this laid-back little gem! Just a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland, you really can’t miss this island when visiting the area. It’s known as the “island of wine” with about 30 wineries and cellar doors, but there are also many great restaurants, wonderful sandy beaches to explore, multiple walks, and some interesting history.

The island is full of greenery and rolling hills with amazing views from their vistas, like the view of Rangitoto Island in the photo below and its eastern end was once a volcano that erupted about 15 million years ago. Originally settled by many tribes, the Maori name for “Waiheke” is “Cascading Waters” for the stream at Onetangi where travelers once came for water.

On Waiheke Island, the wineries are one of the best places to visit
Waiheke Island View


Waiheke Island Places To Visit

Wineries On Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is best known for its high-quality red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc as well as its red wine blends, but you can also find other great varietals.

There are about 30 wineries on Waiheke Island, many of which have either tasting rooms or restaurants and most are top notch places with amazing views. I’ve listed those below that offer tastings and/or food, but make sure to always check the websites in advance as each is different and changes occur seasonally. Many are by appointment only or require lunch/dinner reservations.

Most Popular Wineries

As you can see, the list of the wineries on Waiheke Island above is pretty long. It can be a bit overwhelming to review them all, so I’ve listed a few of the most popular places to visit below. Please remember to make reservations.

Mudbrick Winery

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  • Mudbrick, with their Provence-style restaurant, is one of the most beautiful locations to have a meal or just taste wine, as it sits on a hill with spectacular views of the sea. It’s also just a 5-minute drive or 20-minute walk from the ferry, so it’s easy to access. They also offer accommodation if you fall in love with it (see below).
  • Cable Bay sits near Mudbrick, so has similar panoramic views. They have 2 restaurants and also offer accommodation.
  • Goldie Estate is the first and oldest winery on Waiheke and overlooks Putiki Bay. They’re open to the public for tastings a few days a week.
  • Man O’War sits in the west end of the island, the only winery on the beach. They offer tastings and have a restaurant. Since they’re a bit farther, they offer a coach to and from the ferry for a small fee. See their website for details.
  • Tantalus is known for its restaurant with sweeping views of the vineyard and Onetangi Valley, they also offers tastings and sit near Putiki Bay, east of Goldie Estate.
  • Stoneyridge has Veranda Café, an atmospheric cafe with casual dining and decks and lawns to enjoy tastings. This winery is located near Tantalus.
  • Awaroa is one of the most awarded small vineyards and produces organic wines. They offer tastings and grazing platters. Awaroa is located near the center of the island.

Note: If you’re wondering how to visit some of these wineries if you don’t have a car? See the details on the Hop On Hop Off Bus Explorer under Other Activities below. There are also taxis on the island (but no Uber).

Restaurants On Waiheke Island

In addition to the amazing restaurants at the wineries above, there are also a few others you should consider.

  • One of the most famous is The Heke, the cellar door and brand home of Waiheke Whisky craft distillery and Waiheke Brewing on Waiheke. Their menu offers a variety of tastings as well as burgers, pizza, and seasonal dishes. The Hele is centrally located on the island on Onetangi Road near the Tantalus and Stoneyridge wineries. Walkins are welcome, but reservations are recommended.
  • The Oyster Inn is a beachside bistro that gets great reviews. Located near Oneroa Beach, about a 5-minute drive from Matiatia Wharf, they offer excellent food as well as a great view of the sea from the balcony. And, as the name implies, they also offer accommodation.
  • Ki Māha is a boujee destination, overlooking Onetangi Beach. They offer sustainably harvested seafood and ethically farmed meats, with locally sourced fruits and vegetables.
  • If you’re hungry for Italian, visit Fenice Cafe & Restaurant. This is the sister eatery to Mudbrick. They’re located across the street from The Oyster Inn near Oneroa Beach.
  • Also near Oneroa Beach is Too Fat Buns, a gourmet burger place that often has a queue (and has a name too fun to miss!).

Walking Trails On Waiheke Island

There are several walking trails here, most leading to some of the most incredible places to visit on Waiheke Island. One of the first ones is very close to the ferry, taking you to the wineries nearby (Cable Bay and Mudbrick). When you get off the ferry, at Matiatia Wharf, head to the right. Beyond the parking lot (still to the right), you will see a large wooden sign that says “Track To Vineyards”. Follow that.

It mostly passes through the trees, so is shaded for a good part of the walk. The first winery you will come to is Cable Bay, then Mudbrick (an Olive Tasting Room is also close by).

This is the scene you will see when you exit the woods near Cable Bay. Simply spectacular! It’s well worth the walk, and you will be ready for a tasting and fantastic meal at one of these wineries. I did this and ate at Mudbrick, which was sensational!

Matiatia to Winery Walk

On the way back, just look for the wooden sign that says “Track To Matiatia/Ferry”.

This walk is about 20-minutes each way. It’s known as Matiata to the wineries direct route. You can also take the longer route, which walks along the coast before coming back to the wineries.

Another walk that starts at the ferry is Matiatia to Oneroa – The Mokemoke Pa headland walk. This track takes you along the northern coast from Matiatia to Cable Bay (not the winery) and Owhanake Bay, then on to Oneroa village and beach.

You’ll pass the historic Mokemoke Pā site along with multi-million dollar homes, and in and out of tranquil coves and bays. The walk is 2 hours each way. Note: they say to avoid this track at high tide.

These are just the two most convenient walks from the ferry. For a full list of trails on the island, visit Waiheke Island Walks.

Beaches On Waiheke Island

Waiheke island is covered with rocky coastline and many beautiful beaches and bays, making them one of the best places to visit. The beaches to the north are noted to be a little calmer, but the southern ones can also be clam be at high tide. These are the top 5 beaches on Waiheke Island.

  • Oneroa Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Waiheke. It has a long curved beach with calm water on the north side of the island, a 5-minute drive from the ferry. There are also picnic areas as well as many restaurants nearby, making it the perfect place to hang out.
  • Little Palm Beach is just east of Oneroa, this beach is also great for swimming, as the water is calm, and has picnic areas and a gas BBQ.
  • Onetangi is one of the longest beaches on Waiheke, about 2 km long. It’s perfect for swimming, fishing, and coastal walks. It’s located in the northern side of the island, east of both Oneroa and Little Palm Beach.
  • Man O’ War Bay, near Man O’ War Winery, is fairly remote, so less crowded. There’s also a walk here to Stony Batter, the historical defense ruins of the island (see below).
  • The beach near the wharf at Matiatia, where the ferries dock, is very calm and a good place to kayak. There’s not much beach, but it’s a great place to relax and spot wildlife, like dolphin and stingray.

Other Activities & Places To Visit On Waiheke Island

  • There is a Hop On Hop Off Bus Explorer that makes visiting Waiheke super easy. And it’s affordable! The bus stops at a selection of wineries, restaurants, shops, art galleries, beaches, and nature walks in a 1.5-hour loop. Just stop where you want and catch the next bus.
  • Just to the right of the ferry exit there are a couple places for activities if you prefer this. Kayak Waiheke has kayaks, stand-up-paddle boards (SUP), and electric bikes. There’s also the Waiheke Adventure Center, which offers a variety of guided kayak and SUP tours and more. There are also several bike hire companies just beyond the ferry.
  • The Allpress Olive Groves Tasting Room is an alternative to wine tasting (or in addition to). It’s located near Mudbrick and Cable Bay Winery, a short drive from the ferry.
  • For those that love history, Stony Batter is a WWII coastal defense fortress near the eastern end of the island. There are 1.2 km’s of tunnels and chambers all created by hand. They offer guided tours and theres a bus here from Matiatia Wharf. See their website for full details and costs.

How To Get To Waiheke Island

Fullers Ferry is a passenger only ferry to Waiheke. It leaves the Downtown Ferry Terminal on Quay Street in Auckland very frequently. See their website for costs and time schedules as well as biosecurity details to protect the island.

It’s recommended to purchase your tickets in advance or arrive well before the ferry you want to catch, but if the line is too long, you can wait for the next one. They say to arrive 30-minutes before departure if you have a ticket in advance. I got lucky and arrived early and bought my ticket above 30-minutes before the ferry left.

Matiatia Bay

The ferry ride takes about 40-minutes each way. There are bathrooms on the ferry and there are some food options, but they are limited. It’s best to save your hunger for the amazing food on the island.

If you want to bring your vehicle, use the SeaLink Car & Passenger Ferry instead. See their website for more details and embarkation points.

Where To Stay On Waiheke Island

There’s so much to see and do on Waiheke Island, you may be thinking about staying here a night or two after reading this post. I did not stay here myself, but these places look absolutely glorious and I will definitely stay at one of these on my next trip!

  • The Lodge At Mudbrick is a holiday home is fitted with 3 bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen just a few feet from Mudbrick Restaurant. This sells out frequently, so book in advance.
  • Cable Bay Views is located walking distance between two of the most loved wineries here, Cable Bay and Mudbrick. They offer self-contained apartments & larger houses with garden or water views. Studios include a kitchenette and both the Lodge & House have a full kitchen & butler kitchen views is 5 minutes walk of both Cable Bay Vineyard and Mudbrick Restaurant & Vineyard.
  • Wild Thyme is a short walk east of Oneroa Village and Beach, offering self-contained luxury studios and a 4-bedroom lodge with a terrace or balcony.
  • Delamore Lodge, boasting panoramic views over the Hauraki Gulf, offers luxury 5-star accommodation in Oneroa. Every suite features floor-to-ceiling windows and a private patio. This last one is a splurge destination!

There are so many places that look amazing in so many areas, for a complete list see them all here at Waiheke Island Rooms. It’s most helpful to use the map feature, as the island is fairly large.

Want More Of New Zealand?

For other great things to do in the North Island, visit Wellington, New Zealand’s cute little capital. There’s also can’t-miss Tongariro National Park for a hike Tongariro. It’s not every day you can hike in a live volcano and the Crossing is considered one of the world’s best day hikes. Another amazing hike on the North Island Cape Brett Walkway near the Bay of Islands.

For other great hikes in New Zealand, see my posts on Routeburn Track, Abel Tasman Coastal Track, Key Summit Track, A Day Hike on Kepler Track, Ben Lomond Track, and Queesntown Hill Walkway. Routeburn, Kepler, and Abel Tasman are 3 of New Zealand’s 10 “Great Walks”, but all of these hikes are amazing!

If visiting the South Island, make sure to visit stunning Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world, the unmissable Milford Sound, sometimes called the 8th wonder of the world, and all the stops along the way on the drive from Queenstown To Te Anau and Te Anau to Milford Sound.

There’s also incredible Wanaka, with the hidden gem hike up Roy’s Peak Track for an incredible view, amazing Skydiving, Franz Josef Glacier where you can walk on a glacier, and Marlborough, the premier wine tasting area in New Zealand for Sauvignon Blanc. Christchurch is also a delightful city to explore.

To help plan your trip, see my New Zealand Travel Guide. It covers the top destinations above, how to get around, when to visit, safety tips, and more.

Safe Travels!

Julie

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

2 Comments

  • Paula Cullison

    Great article. Thank You for the memories. We only spent a day on Waiheke Island and one on Rangitoto Island, when we were based in Auckland. Your articles make me want to return to NZ. Keep on traveling!!!

    • Julie

      Both are beautiful! Rangitoto is next weeks article 🙂

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