Waiheke Island is New Zealand’s fifth largest island, and the third most populous, after the North and South Islands. Situated 17.7 km east of Auckland City, and 21 km west of Coromandel. Waiheke is a 35 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, but with its warmer climate, and island lifestyle it seems worlds away.
Waiheke Island, with 92 km². is the second largest island in the Hauraki Gulf, after Great Barrier Island. From east to west is 19.25 km, and the widest north-south point is 9.65 km. There is 40 km of stunning beaches on the 133 km coastline, Most of the island is rolling hills, with farmland, olive groves and vineyards. The highest point is Maunganui at 231 m. The ferry terminal is at the port of Matiatia at the western end of the island.
Most of the 8000, or so, inhabitants of Waiheke live at the western end of the island. Oneroa and Ostend haves banks, shops and a full range of services. Onetangi Bay, on the north coast, also has a small coastal settlement. Waiheke Island is a popular holiday spot, and is also a frequent day trippers destination, with regular ferry and air services, leaving from Auckland, almost every hour during the day.
Waiheke Island has spectacular coastal scenery, beautiful white sandy beaches and sheltered bays. The island has a long Maori history, interesting sites include; Te Putiki O Kahu, which is a fortified Maori settlement first inhabited 700 years ago. The Stonybatter Historic Reserve, contains remarkable rock outcrops, extensive tunnel systems and gun installation sites dating back to World War II. There are internationally renowned boutique vineyards, trendy cafes, fine restaurants in fabulous locations, and many artists, each with a flavour of their own. The Waiheke Island Historic Village has a collection of artefacts, photographs and archives it even has a whaler's cauldron, for melting down blubber.
There is a great range of activities on Waiheke, options include hiring a bicycle, mountain bike, scooter, car, or van from Matiatia, and check out the island. Water activities are abundant, there are plenty of opportunities go sea kayaking, surfing, fishing and swimming. There are some great golf courses, or enjoy a relaxed vineyard tour. The Waiheke Easter Jazz Festival attracts musicians from all over the world. The Ostend Market, held every Saturday from 8.30am to 12.30pm is a colourful weekly market with a great atmosphere.
If you are planning on spending some time here, you will find a very good range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, there is bed and breakfasts, homestays, holiday homes, backpackers hostels, hotels, motels, lodges, resorts, retreats, self contained apartments and camping grounds. Accommodation can be in high demand, so visitors are advised to book in advance.
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