Auckland is a great place to be over the summer holiday season. Why? Because heaps of Aucklanders leave for their holidays in the Coromandel or elsewhere and the crazy traffic dissipates. This makes visiting well-known Auckland spots so much easier and relatively stress-free. So, when an old friend and I were in Auckland over the holiday period, we decided to spend a day on Waiheke Island.
Waiheke Island is about 35 minutes ferry ride from Auckland’s waterfront and should be a must-do for any visitor to Auckland. The island certainly has beautiful swimming beaches, plenty of wineries and restaurants and great views of the surrounding sea and of Auckland city. I have been a couple of times before and it can be a nice escape from Auckland although can be quite populated in summer. However, it is still pleasant to visit.
We chose a sunny, china cup blue day and off we went. Getting into the city was easy due to the reduced Auckland traffic and it was no problem finding a park in a relatively empty carpark building right on the waterfront and costing only $10 for the day as it was a public holiday. Five minutes later we were buying a return ticket from Fullers terminal on the wharf for the ferry – $46 for my friend but no cost to me as I have a Supergold card. You will need to get a ‘Hopper’ card first in Auckland if you have a Supergold card. It costs around $15 and is available from transport centres and train stations. Keep it forever and use it for free transport on Auckland trains, buses and the Waiheke Ferry.
The ferry trip was fun. We chatted to friendly people sitting near us. They were visiting family in Auckland. All of us joined in singing some sea songs – The Sloop John B, The Drunken Sailor and even the Skye Boat Song. Madness. It’s amazing what holidays do to people. When we reached the terminal on the island, we caught a bus up the hill to the Waiheke village. It’s not too far to walk if you’re fit and don’t have knee replacements. The village has plenty of shops in which to browse. My friend bought herself some beautiful silver flower earrings – a memento of Waiheke.
We then walked down to Oneroa Beach which is three minutes’ walk from the village, to sit on a bench and chat in the sun. The blue sea called to us, so we paddled in the gentle warm waves and chatted to a couple who were waiting for their son to pick them up in his sailing boat. After our time on the beach, we headed back up to the village. There are also some lovely cafés and eateries and we decided to have a late lunch in a lovely restaurant that overlooked the beach. Now where could one have a nana-nap, oops, I mean a power nap?
As part of the day, we were going to take a bus to a winery to have a glass of wine but decided instead that we had better head back to the ferry terminal before it got too busy with returning passengers. We thought we’d come back to Waiheke another time for that glass of wine and maybe stay a night or two. The return trip was pleasant, and we passed Devonport Heads where the Navy has its base. The boat rolled gently over waves adding to our feeling of relaxation.
It was a lovely day, restful and refreshing. A plus was that the car park vending machines weren’t working so we didn’t have to pay the $10. Bonus.