Waiheke Island, a
40-minute ferry ride east of central Auckland, is easily the most populous of the Hauraki Gulf islands. Almost 8000
people call this rolling, cove-scalloped nugget home, and the population swells
greatly on weekends and particularly in summer when Aucklanders come to enjoy
their holiday homes, relax on the beaches and lunch at some of the superb
Fullers ferries start early and finish late making is
possible to pack a lot into a day trip. Without renting a vehicle it is easy
enough to walk or catch a bus into the main settlement of Oneroa, where you immediately
get that slower-paced island feel. Enjoy the beach and cafés before walking the
coastal path around Matiatia Headland then making for a long winery lunch at Cable Bay or Mudbrick.
It takes a little
more effort to visit the eastern end of the island where you might lunch at Casita Miro, just near the island’s
longest beach, Onetangi. Push on to the tunnels and gun emplacements of Stony Batter, a headland fortification
from World War II. Art buffs really must book a time to visit Connells Bay Sculpture Park which is
packed with pieces commissioned from new Zealand’s finest sculptors.