Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Waiheke island - Paradise

Waiheke island is located just outside Auckland city centre and is the second largest island in this part of the world, Great Barrier island being the largest. The island has over 8700 permanent residents, so ferries are frequent and reasonably priced. Departing from the Britomart (bottom of Queens Street) every hour and only costing NZ$36 with return, it offers a great escape from the city.

See timetable on Fullers site (the ferry company)

Working full time in a bar is all well and good, but sometimes it's nice to have a break. All over the island you will find hidden bays and beaches, one of the most popular (and closest to the ferry) being Oneroa beach. Walking through the beach, you'll pass through Oneroa village which offers a wide range of small shops and cozy cafes, so do make sure you have a look.

Hiking (or tramping as Kiwis call it) tracks are all over the island. When you arrive in the ferry terminal, make your way over to the information/ticket office and ask for a map of the island. They'll give you a copy (free) which has all the hiking tracks on the west side of the island. You'd think that the tracks would be filled with tourists in flip flops, falling over whilst taking pictures with their cameras, but actually no.

After a full day of walking, I think I'd met a total of maybe six people on the tracks, seven if you count the baby sleeping on his dads back. As I was walking around the island, I did so in pure bliss. It gives the soul itself energy seeing scenery like this. Absolutely stunning.

I mixed together a few of the tracks, but mainly focused on the green and yellow. All along the tracks there are signs and painted polls, so getting lost isn't an issue. Do take care though, parts of these tracks can be quite physically demanding and some parts you need to take great care in where you step. So make sure you check with the local information at the ferry terminal (and tourist office in town) before you head out on your own.

A big selection the walking tracks can be found here: Auckland Council

Walking through the island, you'll pass several vineyards of various size. You can also attend wine tasting on some of them. Check with the tourist office or online at Waiheke Wine Tours.

Could I live here? Most definitely. This is, by far, the most beautiful place I've seen in New Zealand (I have not been to South Island yet). It's peaceful, it's relaxed, it's's simply paradise.

If you are in Auckland, you need to make sure you spend at least one day on Waiheke, even if that means only having a few hours to explore the city centre. I personally can't wait to go back and explore it even further.

Check out the rest of my photos from Waiheke on my Flickr profile.